MBTA Safety Plans Measured by Service Damage

With Glut Of Spending, Government Agencies Are Competing For The Same Employees

JULY 19, 2022…..Officials at the MBTA plan to hire about 2,000 workers next year, a major effort that has implications for transit safety, workload and maintenance.

And fraud, T General Manager Steve Poftak said on Tuesday, will rise that many people are working “in one of the most difficult markets, that I have ever seen.”

Poftak and MBTA Chief Administrative Officer David Panagore he made a work plan for the fiscal year that began July 1, targeting an increase of 330 employees supported by the capital budget and 1,759 employees supported by the operating budget.

About 900 of these positions in both executive and operational sectors are already available, and another 447 have been added above the number of people in the last year’s budget. The plan also estimates that the T will need to cut another 744 positions to cover the problem if employees retire or quit.

About 600 budget jobs are related to security, according to Panagore, which can force T in the middle of a federal investigation on security failures at the agency.

Summarizing the expectations for the MBTA board, Panagore described them as “a mountain to climb.”

“One of the topics that you’ve heard from us in a lot of our conversations about workload, performance, safety management — a lot of that support is the need to add more staff and more to the T,” he said. Poftak said. “We’re doing this in the teeth of a very difficult labor market, especially in my experience, what I’ve seen. That’s not a problem for the MBTA, it’s a problem in multiple sectors of our economy.”

Hiring has been a difficult process for the T, with government investigators pointing to high dispatchers as a safety risk and a shortage of bus drivers that led to winter service cuts.

The MBTA’s management and Baker on Tuesday sought to link their problems to broader financial problems.

“This is not going to be easy going forward,” said MBTA board member Travis McCready in response to the hiring process, which he praised. “Regardless of who I talk to, regardless of transportation, regardless of where in the United States, the entire transportation sector is suffering from an overcrowding problem. It is tied. It’s not a flash in the pan. It is structural. “

McCready urged MBTA officials to consider creating a “five-year plan” for operations, rather than a one-year proposal, as is the case with most budgets. Leading the pack should be important, he said, because “things are not going to get better — they’re going to get worse when it comes to transportation recruiting.”

The MBTA is not alone among public agencies struggling to attract enough workers. Last month, a subcommittee of the Department of Transportation accepted the union contract which would raise salaries and offer $5,000 signing bonuses amid challenges to adding and retaining engineers.

State Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver at the time called it “probably the hottest market we’ve seen for construction engineers.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Secretary of Transportation Jamey Tesler said that the rental problems he faced recently are with his colleagues and the public transport managers. He said some of the problems were caused by the new construction law, which made billions of dollars available to states and municipalities that are often competing to hire the same contractors.

Massachusetts lawmakers this month are expected to pass a bill seeking more than $10 billion in federal funding. The state unemployment rate in May was 3.9 percent.

The secretary said other organizations such as regional transport authorities are also facing problems, as are school districts facing a shortage of licensed bus drivers.

“What everybody realized is: if we’re competing with each other, the pool isn’t growing and we’re showing the same people. We need to expand the pool of people,” said Tesler.

“We don’t want to compete with our friends in the RTA, we don’t want to compete with our friends in the rest of the country, because in the end we will only be sharing money,” he added. .