MBTA being run by ‘adults’ at long last, advisory board head says

It will take time for the MBTA’s general manager to correct the course of the beleaguered transportation network he’s been steering for most of a year, but at least there is finally an “adult” in charge, according to the head of the agency’s budget board.

Brian Kane, the executive director of the T’s advisory board, said problems popping up across the system aren’t the kind of news he wants to hear, but at least MBTA General Manager Phil Eng seems to know what he’s doing.

“Eng has been here six months,” he told WBZ. “I think folks are really starting to see a sea change. I mean, I, as someone who was inside the T, and plays very close attention to it, am starting to see things that I just haven’t seen in the last decade.”

In the wake of revelations that the multi-billion dollar Green Line extension was opened despite previous MBTA officials knowing the tracks were too narrow for trains to move at full speed, Kane said that Eng has been the silver lining. The former New York transportation executive has made some high level leadership changes that speak to how seriously he takes the problems he faces, Kane said.

“He’s brought in serious experts from outside the state and outside the MBTA — industry professionals — to begin to run things, and you are starting to see changes happen internally because of that,” Kane said.

“It’s the adults in charge,” Kane said later.

A fix to the Green Line’s tracks to widen them to industry standard could begin as soon as November and will require about two weeks of overnight closures.

The fact the public even knows about the problem, which previous MBTA officials apparently discovered in the spring of 2021, well before the extension project opened to riders, is because of Eng’s disclosures about the issue. Larger concerns with the system — ridership, employment, revenue — these will take time to address, Kane said.

“It’s only been six months, this stuff will take time. We had decades of underinvestment in the T and it’s not going to be fixed in six months,” he said.

Eng, the former President of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Island Rail Road and interim president of New York City Transit system, joined the MBTA in April. He makes $470,000 per year.

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