Advocates For More T Funding And Oversight Rally On Beacon Hill

Public transportation advocates held a rally outside the State House Thursday, calling on elected officials to provide more oversight and funding for the MBTA.

The event, organized by the coalition Transit is Essential, follows a number of recent safety related incidents on the T, including a derailment on the Red Line and an escalator malfunction that reportedly sent nine people to the hospital with minor injuries.

“We have the tools,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance. “We have the solutions. Now it is the opportunity of our elected officials and the State House and the governor to build back trust and to use the tools they already have in their toolkit to get it done.”

One of the group’s stated demands was for Gov. Charlie Baker to fill seats on the new board to supervise the MBTA.

The previous board was dissolved this past June. Baker signed a law in July that established a new governing body, which consisted of seven members.

The state's secretary of transportation will hold one seat and the MBTA advisory board can make an appointment. That board selected Quincy mayor Thomas Koch last month. It's up to the governor to fill the other five seats.

Baker's office is in the process of finalizing appointees, according to an administration official, and the MassDOT board of directors is overseeing the MBTA in the meantime.

“The MBTA and the people that depend on it deserve a governing board that will convene in public and respond to urgent issues and chart a course,” said Josh Ostroff, interim director of the nonprofit coalition Transportation for Massachusetts. “And then, we hope, advocate for enough resources.”

The group also called for state lawmakers to ensure MBTA funding through legislation.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation recently released a report that found the T would need $1.25 billion in new annual revenue to meet its capital and operating needs in the coming years.

Jarred Johnson, executive director of TransitMatters said stable funding for a reliable and safe T system is essential to the Boston region’s economy and the state’s efforts to address climate change.

“It’s time for the governor and the legislature to step up and provide the T with the necessary resources and step up the critical efforts to repair and modernize the system,” said Johnson.