The MBTA is in a full-blown crisis. Failure to fix it has profound impacts on the region’s economy and the companies and people forced to rely on public transit. The MBTA’s problems are not new; nor are studies and panels and commissions to recommend fixes. But many of these past efforts have failed to fully recognize how deeply entrenched and multi-layered the T’s problems have become. If we continue to ignore the intricacy of the issues driving this crisis, the MBTA will fail to achieve any of the bold visions for the future. Instead, it will continue to lurch from one crisis to another.
So while suggestions to eliminate the MBTA, or to install an outside management team, or even to put the T into full receivership reflect pent-up frustrations that attract media attention, they fail to address the core challenges afflicting the MBTA today. That task of contending with a wide range of issues and a series of difficult decisions necessary to reshape the MBTA will largely fall to the next administration.