Recently hundreds of Blue Line riders became tunnel walkers as they escaped the subway on foot after a power failure between two downtown stops.
Alternate options were overwhelmed with T refugees while long lines of delayed travelers formed.
It was a nightmare. Another nightmare. A multi-level nightmare. But one tier of the MBTA hierarchy remains untouched by the menagerie of mishaps marring commutes, and is inexplicably removed from any accountability, and that is leadership.
Why is Stephanie Pollack still the secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation?
Pollack must go, immediately.
Her stewardship of the department has been abysmal. If the news reports about straphangers trekking through the Blue Line tunnels seems familiar, that’s because they are. Just last summer, the subway line suffered two power outages in one week, also resulting in hundreds of riders trudging out from under Boston Harbor in the sweltering heat.
Winter is no better as Blue line stations flood and are routinely rendered useless. Sandbags are becoming iconic at the Aquarium stop.
That is just one part of one story of one subway line. There are many more.
The MBTA is under the charge of Pollack and has been beset with outages, derailments and innumerable other plagues from day one. Certainly she did not inherit a great product but she is paid to make it work.
Add to that the troubles at the RMV and her inability to act swiftly with transparency.
Just this month the agency finished processing a backlog of out-of-state driver’s license violations that sat unchecked for more than a year. After finally diving into those bins, the RMV suspended hundreds of additional drivers — for a total topping 1,600.
As we know now, the backlog included West Springfield trucker Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, accused of killing seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire on June 21, despite a Connecticut OUI arrest on May 11 that should have triggered an automatic license suspension.
As we’ve expressed previously, the fact that thousands of alerts were coming into the agency and were tossed into a bin for more than a year means that the employees work under such an air of malaise that the environment is near toxic. The foundation of such a culture must be removed and that foundation is currently embodied by Pollack.
We are entering a weekend that promises to pack some extreme heat. It’s a long summer. MBTA riders deserve, at the very least, the peace of mind that real change is underway at the agency.
Gov. Baker came to prominence as a manager who could change the culture and processes of a bureaucratic entity in order to reverse its fortunes for the better. His time at Harvard Pilgrim is a testament to this.
It is time that Gov. Baker summon the innovative leadership and spirit of citizen Baker and begin the task of fixing the MBTA. The task will not be easy but Bay Staters will support him if it is clear that he is taking an aggressive, proactive approach to the goal rather than limping to the podium after every mishap and meandering through a canned apology.
The task begins with the firing of Stephanie Pollack.