Governor Deval L. Patrick
MBTA Press Conference - As Delivered
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I just want to, first of all, express my support and thanks to Secretary Davey and his team for their very good work in developing today’s recommendation. More than thirty public hearings were held, over six thousand- nearly six thousand- comments from individuals all across the system: very vivid stories about people trying to get to work and students to school, seniors having access to doctors’ appointments, and really just having independence. And all of that feedback mattered for this process so I also wanted to thank the members of the public for engaging so well and so positively.
We have a broken transportation system. It was broken when we inherited it five years ago. It was disorganized, mismanaged, and inefficient, in many respects. That’s what the transportation reform initiative was about in the first place. And I’m very proud that because of that reform initiative our saving is on the order of about twenty five million dollars a year. That’s important.
But the system remains underfunded. I think everyone knows that. Previous administrations were not honest about what things cost, or how much we were paying, or how to sustain the system we had. WE can’t avoid that any longer. And I won’t avoid it any longer.
We’ve taken a number of actions at the T and beyond. Thanks to David Alessandro’s good work we have the first independent and honest review of finances. We’ve reformed an unaffordable pension system down at the T, we’ve lowered health care costs, we’ve adapted new technology to make service more responsive to writers. We’ve merged some of the so-called back office functions (IT, legal, civil rights), we’ve lowered head count, as well. But none of that alone was ever going to be enough.
The T we inherited had a fatally flawed budget. It was burdened with Big Dig debt, pushing payments off to the future. That’s why the revenue proposal I made in 2009 was important alongside the reorganization of the agencies.
This year, the T faces a 185 million dollar operating deficit. The Secretary has made a thoughtful proposal to close that gap. I accept it, because of what it does to avoid drastic service cuts for people who depend on the T every day.
One other point I want to make. This is neither a permanent nor a comprehensive solution. The T will be back in this position next year. Meanwhile MBTA have lots of unmet needs. Indeed, there are unmet needs in our transportation system across the Commonwealth.
Transportation financing is not just a Boston area issue. It’s a Commonwealth-wide issue. I don’t favor short term patches. As most of you know I prefer long term solutions and real problem solving- lasting problem-solving. That’s going to have to be at the top of our agenda next year when the legislature comes back. I think people through this process and others have been clear about what kind of system they want and need here in the Commonwealth. And we in the government have to be just as clear about what kind of system we can afford, and what it would take to have the kind of system a 21st century Commonwealth deserves.
I look forward to working with the legislature, with Secretary Davey, with the public- an engaged public- on that question beginning next year. Again, I want to thank all of the people who came out to be a part of this process- whether you came in regular street clothes or in a cape, your involvement for a better, more positive, more important, I think, and more comprehensive outcome. I know the secretary took many of the ideas that were brought in and is working on others. The point is, we heard you, and we ask that you continue to stay engaged as we work together to find a permanent solution.