Update: NECN's got the in-person statements from D'Alessandro and the Governor. Gov: “For to long, we have not dealt with the service and financial problems the T has faced. Folks have looked the other way and frankly not always told the truth. … We now know exactly what needs to be fixed. The job now is to fix it.” No fare increases right now.
Update: I just talked with David D'Alessandro. From my notes, which I will later supplement with actual quotes:
- Who are you and why did the governor ask you to make this report?
Didn't know governor til he called me in August. Gov asked Menino for help — was having trouble getting an open and frank assessment about T. I was recommended by Menino. Spent 24 yrs @ Hancock, including as CEO. Spent last 3 mos at the T having an open-door policy — ask for and getting anything we wanted at T.
- Should a daily T rider be concerned about safety?
Very safe system — some pockets more in need of repair than others. If not repaired, they will become problems. Vehicles need repair — that's why trains are slow. Inefficiencies of T's mechanical system are much more worrisome than human inefficiencies.
- Does this let Grabauskas off the hook for service problems at the T?
Anyone that's in the job faces the same kind of problems. Forward funding requires Hobson's choices. Anyone would have an equally difficult time. How high do the problems rise? How transparent are the financials and the problems, and who's making decisions?
The arms-length autority given to the MBTA was too long. Bigger issues have to rise to A&F and the gov's office. Lege should know how money's being spent, and what's not spent — what projects aren't being funded. When the T was a separate authority, debt abilities and decision-making abilities were disconnected.
- What differences can we expect under new law?
Sec. of Trans Mullan will know what $ being spent on. All capital spending will not happen just under MBTA. Jeff Mullan has that message; gov's been very clear he wants that level of transparency.
- What dent would moving the Carmen into the GIC make in the current situation?
GIC would be helpful, but not to the tune of $100s of millions, and not immediately. Save maybe $7-10 million in the short term, but then retirees go into that system too. Drop in the bucket compared to the coming deficits. Transportation Reform Act has addressed it as aggressively as they can.
But actually, expense growth comes from the Ride and utility costs. $256 million more than beginning of forward funding era. [see pages 8-9 of report]
- If utility costs are the big chunk with the accumulated debt, are there plans to address that?
Gov's response today: Wants to get agencies into bulk energy purchasing. We'll see more on that in coming weeks.
- Report says “slow expansion” until maintenance problems can be addressed. That means South Coast and Green Line to Medford, right?
We're saying, consider slowing until you have arms around repair and maintenance issues. Resources are stretched. “I'm sure there's a great political argument to the contrary … [but] if your roof is leaking and there's water flooding into your basement, why would you build a new wing?”
[Update: The governor's assistant added that the Green Line extension is already contractually obligated; and that the South Coast Rail is due to begin service in 2016, in which case it is hoped that we'll have a solution to the funding problem.
So actually, it would seem these two projects would likely not be on the chopping block — Charley.]
- If tying the MBTA to the sales tax was a bad idea, what would be a good idea for funding?
(Pointedly avoids question.) Options are well-documented. Question of political will. The T can't self-fund. New revenue has to show up somewhere.
“I'm not sure the legislature made a mistake when they recommended forward funding. The real question is after it was put in place: Who went back and checked, how is it going anyway? To come back eight years later to figure out that it didn't work, is a long time.”