Sen. Warren thinks the next governor needs to clean house at the MBTA

“We’re not going to get better results until we get better management,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said.

Stefani Reynolds
Elizabeth Warren in September 2021.

The enormous challenges at the MBTA fall squarely with the system’s top managers, and it’s up to the next Massachusetts governor to fix the situation, according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

During an appearance on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” on Wednesday, Warren said a lack of accountability for top brass at the MBTA and the Department of Public Utilities, which oversees MBTA safety, is the biggest roadblock to improving the T.

“There are fabulous people working at the T … but the problem is management, and at the federal level, at the state level, we can’t just keep pouring money in and not hold management accountable, because we’re not going to get better results until we get better management,” she said. 


It’s up to the next Massachusetts governor to change that, Warren said.

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“This really rests in the governor’s lap, and if we’re going to make change, it’s going to be that we’re going to have a governor who has a vision of what needs to be done and then puts people in place to execute on that vision,” she said. 

“So you think everybody who’s in charge has got to be dumped by the next governor,” host Jim Braude asked.

“Correct,” Warren responded.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak did not respond to a request for comment. 

In a Senate hearing in Boston last week, Warren and Sen. Ed Markey took T officials to task, highlighting the agency’s leadership and safety shortcomings.

The MBTA is a “huge outlier” in American transit systems, Warren said Wednesday, pointing out that the T is responsible “for more than a third of all the [light rail] accidents and more than 90% of all the personal injuries” across the country.

“This is about accountability for management,” she said. “Look at the federal investigation on this — it says you don’t have enough people because you’re not putting out requests for good jobs; the management isn’t making this an attractive place to work. I’ve never seen a report like this federal report.”


In that highly critical report on MBTA safety, the Federal Transit Administration estimated the transit system might be short 1,500 to 2,000 workers.

Warren said there’s “no doubt” that the T needs more resources, but emphasized that the agency has already received the resources it needs to make improvements.

“This is not a problem that you’re going to solve by simply taking a dumptruck load of money and backing it up and showering it across the T and the T will magically be better,” she said. 


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