(SOURCE: Boston Globe)
This is the mess that Frank DePaola walked
into on his first day as the new head of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation
■ The T
recently revealed it would need to
spend about $6.7 billion to repair and upgrade its trains, rails, and stations
to be in good working order.
commuter rail system, walloped by the winter, is still operating on a reduced
schedule after weeks of late or canceled trains.
■ And an angry public is demanding refunds for a disastrous
month of interrupted service.
But if DePaola was overwhelmed by the what
ails the T on Wednesday, his first day as interim general manager, he didn’t
MBTA sets upgrade costs at $6.7b
The board that oversees the T also
expressed skepticism about issuing refunds for poor service, saying repair and
upgrades take priority.
Instead, he struck a matter-of-fact note
when he said in an interview: “I mean, of course, it’s a challenge.”
DePaola, who took over the T after Beverly
A. Scott last month abruptly announced plans to step down, has served as the
state transportation department’s highway administrator. He says that
experience will help him lead the T next time it is socked by a big snowstorm.
DePaola started on the day Governor
Charlie Baker also released his budget for the next fiscal year, which includes
$1.172 billion for the T’s operating budget.
On Wednesday, a small group of public
transportation advocates held a rally on Beacon Hill
to demand even more state funding for the T.
“We need to make sure our Legislature does
not forget that transportation has to be at the top of our priority list even
when the snow melts,” said Kristina Egan, the executive director of Transportation
who passed along to Baker a petition with 12,000 signatures.
DePaola refrained from criticizing the
amount allotted to the T.
“It’s a step in the direction of
recognizing the T needs further investment,” he said.
Several members of the board that oversees
the MBTA said on Tuesday that investment, rather than refunds to mollify
commuters, should be the immediate focus of spending. DePaola also said a
refund scheme could be abused by customers who lied about buying passes.
Instead, DePaola said, he would prefer
giving riders discounts on future fares, rather than refunds on their February
Keolis Commuter Services, which operates
the T’s commuter rail, is trying in its own way to regain customers.
A spokeswoman said the company took out
ads in The Boston Globe and the Metro newspaper that feature a letter from the
company’s new general manager, Gerald Francis, who apologizes for poor service.