Put MBTA safety guards elsewhere

Senator Brendan Crichton and Rep. William M. Strauss, co-chairs of the Transportation Commission, listen at a hearing in the State Capitol.Staff Photo Chris Christ/Boston Herald

Thanks, but no thanks. Inspector General Jeffrey Shapiro said of state legislators’ proposal to move the MBTA’s security oversight to his office.

Shapiro, who testified Monday at a Joint Commission on Transportation hearing, said he would instead support moving this oversight role from the Utilities Administration to a new independent agency “focused solely on MBTA safety.” .

He envisions two branches within this potential entity. One is for the regional subway system and works with the Federal Transit Authority regulator. It’s a smaller one that focuses on everything else: buses, regional transport, ferries.

“I believe we need a new FTA-defined safety agency,” Shapiro said, referring to the Fed’s criticism of last year’s security inspection that state security oversight is independent of the governor’s office. and said

“That institution should not be the OIG,” he added. “Rather, the OIG will oversee the new safety agency.”

This solution frees up the DPU to focus on its “many other statutory responsibilities,” especially those related to climate and energy. The Office of the Inspector General will also be able to expand its role of independent statewide oversight into this new safety agency that prevents and detects fraud, waste and abuse and monitors public and private transportation costs.

In particular, the inspector’s proposal would move safety oversight to his office, as proposed in a bill introduced by state Rep. William Strauss, which was considered at a hearing Monday that Strauss co-chaired. I rejected the idea that I should.

Instead, Shapiro proposed a solution closer to that proposed in a bill introduced by State Senator Michael Barrett, which also called for the establishment of a new independent commission to take on this oversight role.

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