All Things Travel: A Tale Of 2 Board Meetings

By Bob Weiss, CBSBoston.com Travel Contributor
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BOSTON (CBS) – The boards of both the Massachusetts Port Authority and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority met separately this past week.

The only thing the meetings had in common was the attendance of Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey.

As secretary, Davey is chairman of the Massport board.  He also sits at the table at the MBTA meeting and is a former T general manager.

The two meetings are as different as night and day.

bobweiss All Things Travel: A Tale Of 2 Board Meetings

Bob Weiss, CBS Boston travel contributor

The Massport board sits around a conference room table along with Massport executives who make their presentations.

Downtown, the MBTA board members face the audience and the presenter.

The comment period opens both meetings and what a difference as people sign up to be heard.

Only one person spoke at the Massport session and, with questions, it lasted maybe six or seven minutes.

With the fare increase and potential cutbacks in service, more than 30 people signed up to be heard and the comment period lasted about two hours at the MBTA meeting.

At Logan, only this reporter was present.

At the monthly MBTA meeting, eight members of the media were in attendance.

After the meeting ended, Davey and acting MBTA General Manager Jonathan Davis faced the press and took questions.

At the Massport meeting, a member of their communications department is always at your side and the short interviews are one-on-one.

It should be noted that David Mackey is the interim CEO of Massport. It has been a year since Thomas Kinton informed that board that he would retire and the job has not yet been filled.

You are escorted by a person upstairs to the Massport board room and required to sign-in and get a visitor badge. Since the March MBTA meeting was held in a conference room, no building ID was needed.

At the Tuesday Massport meeting, there were four visitors, including the media.

The MBTA had to use its biggest conference room seating 154 people and it was standing room only with people waiting to get into the room.

That session was recorded for a webcast. Chants and people in costume greeted the MBTA board.

It seemed clear that people opposing the fare increase and proposed changes were “the 99-percent” who you hear so much about these days.

These were some of the same people who attended the MBTA’s 31 community meetings and hearings.

There seems little doubt that the riders have made their point.

How successful they will be is another story.

Fare increases are coming.

“The response has been nothing short of amazing,” said Davey when he faced the media.

“Their voices have been heard,” said Davis of the MBTA. “The deficit of $161 million has to be balanced for next year.”

One piece of good news from the MBTA meeting was the board approval for a lease agreement with Delaware North for the North Station Garage for 75 years that is worth $118 million.

The Massport board voted to authorize a $20 million installment for renovations and improvements in Terminals B, C and E.

This money is a part of the $85 million budget for terminal modernization of Massport’s five year capital program.

The long-term solution to the MBTA’s woes is for the state to take over some of its debt created by the Big Dig of the past 10 years.

A People’s Assembly National Day of Action on Public Transportation will take place at the State House in the afternoon of April 4.

In a national report released this week by the American Public Transportation Association, people took 10.4 billion public transportation rides last year, a billion more than 2011.

That was second only to the record year of 1957.

Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

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