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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Will hiring a new MBTA General Manager end T delays?

A+commuter+waits+for+their+Red+Line+train.+Photo+by+Colin+Tsuboi+%28He%2FHim%29+%2F+Mass+Media+Contributor.

A commuter waits for their Red Line train. Photo by Colin Tsuboi (He/Him) / Mass Media Contributor.

In an official Press Release March 27, Governor Maura Healey, Lieutenant Governor Kimberley Driscoll and Transportation Secretary Gina Fiandaca announced the appointment of Phillip Eng as the new general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Eng is a former president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Island Rail Road and also worked as an interim president of the New York City Transit [1].
“Phil Eng is the proven leader the MBTA needs to improve safety and reliability across the system and restore the public’s trust,” said Governor Healey in a press release posted on the MBTA website. Lieutenant Governor Driscoll echoed Healey’s statement and added that what impressed her the most about Eng is his commitment to customer service and public trust [1].
With the appointment of a new GM, the MBTA also released a three-year Safety Improvement Plan on April 3 to respond to and act on the MBTA safety-related concerns. This new plan encapsulates a number of small and big projects. Four categories will be given special emphasis: workforce; communication; rules and policies; and quality management. Inadequate staffing has periled the MBTA and impeded the bus and T services.
A report produced by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation indicates that the MBTA is falling short of staffers by 20 to 25 percent less than what is actually required for the upkeep of the whole system. To fill the current gap, the analysis presented by the MTF says that the MBTA needs 2,800 new staffers.
In its official letter, MTF emphasized that the labor shortage in the MBTA has confronted “a talent and succession problem for years,” and this is due to substantial budget gaps and an increased number of retirements among staffers. Subsequently, understaffing has caused a series of safety and service problems. Amid all the looming concerns about the inefficiency of the MBTA, Eng has stepped into the role of GM and said to WBUR that he is committed to “ramping up hiring to ensure that we have the workforce in place to deliver the reliable service that riders deserve” [3].
The taxpayers foundation said that its analysis of MBTA payroll data, state demographics and studies by both industry groups and nonprofit organizations indicate daunting challenges for the T’s efforts to increase its workforce. This is the latest in a series of reports on the financial and operational status of the important transportation system.
To address the ever-increasing concern of staff shortage, the MBTA has been actively campaigning to get workers on board by providing incentives like a sign-on bonus. April 3, the MBTA officially announced on its website that, effective April 15, the MBTA will provide a $7,500 Sign-On Bonus to a number of positions. Some eligible positions for $7,500 include bus operators, rail repairers, track laborers, streetcar operators, subway train operators, service technicians and fuelers [2].
As a part of the campaign, the MBTA is also hosting several career events and fairs at multiple locations. Some of these events are in person at different locations, including Quincy, Mattapan and colleges like UMass Dartmouth. Readers can visit the MBTA website to learn more about the hiring process and open positions.
Apart from staff shortages, the T delays regularly frustrate the riders. The wait time between two consecutive Red Line Alewife trains is 10-15 mins and the Orange Line wait is 10-12 mins. Riders have been consistently tweeting about the delays and expressing dissatisfaction with the services. A tweet from Twitter user @ToddStanleyGor1 read, “1/2 hour delay in morning service is unacceptable—Rockport-N/station 7.45 train. You close the line for months to fix signals last year and it’s broken now? RIDICULOUS” [6].
Sources:
1. https://www.mbta.com/news/2023-03-27/healey-driscoll-administration-appoints-phillip-eng-mbta-general-manager
2. https://www.wbur.org/news/2023/04/03/mbta-hiring-labor-shortage-massachusetts
3. https://www.mbta.com/news/2023-04-03/mbta-continues-aggressive-hiring-campaign-offering-7500-sign-bonus-multiple
4. https://www.mbta.com/news/2023-04-03/mbta-publishes-3-year-safety-improvement-plan
5. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/04/03/metro/mbta-must-hire-hundreds-employees-needs-12-billion-address-safety-capital-concerns-foundation-warns/
6. https://twitter.com/ToddStanleyGor1/status/1643589171598983168?s=20

About the Contributor
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor