Former MBTA general manager Daniel A. Grabauskas, speaking publicly for the first time since being forced to resign last week, said today that he believes he was pushed out because the Patrick administration needed a scapegoat to blame for a proposed fare increase.
Former MBTA general manager Daniel Grabauskas
State Transportation Secretary James A. Aloisi Jr. has said that the fare increase was something being pushed by Grabauskas and the MBTA. But Grabauskas said in an interview that he had been telling state transportation officials that in fact the T did not need to boost fares this year.
"He wanted me to rush the fare increase process," Grabauskas said of Aloisi. "And I said I thought it was a bad idea. I'm breaking my silence because to say the MBTA staff was on its own, at my direction, is a lie."
Grabauskas said that $160 million in new sales tax revenue targeted for the T, $18 million in federal stimulus money, and future savings from reforming health benefits for T workers obviated the need for an immediate fare increase.
"The math is pretty darn simple," he said. "Anyone can see there isn't a necessity to do this."
The administration, Grabauskas alleged, was worried that if they did not push him out, he would have questioned the need for a fare increase at a public hearing today on whether the T should boost fares by 20 percent.
Last week, as he was announcing Grabauskas's resignation, Aloisi said that the fare increase would be put on hold until former John Hancock CEO David D'Alessandro can conduct a top-to-bottom financial review of the T. Grabauskas said that suggested to him that the administration will look for a way to put off the increase and take credit for helping commuters.
"I screamed at the TV at home," he said. "You're going to steal my plan and then let [Governor Deval] Patrick rescue the farepayers? It's Orwellian. This is what I've been putting up with for the past two and a half years."
Patrick this afternoon said that the removal of the former general manager “was never personal, at least not from my perspective,” but he raised several questions about Grabauskas's performance.
“You look at a record of two serious crashes in a short period of time, you look at a record of projects that, I think, not one has been on time and on budget in the last few of years,” Patrick said, in his first extensive comments since Grabauskas resigned. “There’s some serious questions there that I had and that others have.”
Patrick declined to take a position on whether or not there should be an MBTA fare increase, saying he would await a complete review of T finances.
“Let’s see what we can squeeze out of the organization before we start talking about new fares,” he said. “And until I get that, I’m not going to take a position on fares. I want that first, and I think that’s a fair and responsible thing to ask of the T.”
When asked where the push for a fare increase was coming from, he said, “You should ask the T that. It didn’t come from me.” When asked again whether his administration was pushing for it, he said, “No.”
Matt Viser of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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