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I-Team: MBTA has a history of ignoring safety issues

I-TEAM: Federal report reveals MBTA lacks culture of safety
I-TEAM: Federal report reveals MBTA lacks culture of safety 02:19

BOSTON - The MBTA is doing the critical work now on the shut-down Orange Line, but a federal report says the T should have been doing it all along.

Instead, the T diverted money and put capital projects before preventative maintenance and safety.  Keith Millhouse is a rail safety expert. He told the I-Team, "The MBTA is sitting on a time bomb. The MBTA is not being run well and not doing the things they need to be doing."

The Federal Transit Administration report says the T treated serious safety incidents as freak accidents instead of failures in training, staffing and supervision. That was nothing new. The I-Team uncovered two previous reports that found safety was not the priority.

The T says it is creating a culture of safety first by setting up a Quality Compliance and Oversight Office. Katie Choe, the chief of Capital Delivery, is in charge of it. 

"The fox is watching the hen house. You don't put the lead capital delivery person in charge of safety when the FTA told you that you were too focused on capital projects and not safety. I'm very concerned the MBTA still doesn't get it," Millhouse said.

As to whether the MBTA can meet all of the FTA's safety deadlines, the MBTA says it has already made progress on the previous safety orders and is working on recruiting new employees.  

"You can't run a system if you don't have the employees to do it. That might mean system cutbacks until you can hire and train them effectively.  Until the MBTA shows us and delivers on promises, I don't have great confidence in them," Millhouse said.

On Wednesday, Senators Warren and Markey blasted the Baker Administration for the safety failures. Congressman Seth Moulton also blamed the administration and is demanding top-to-bottom changes at the T.

The MBTA tells the I-Team that Choe has 20 years experience in construction management and safety.  

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