Review Finds Serious Security Lapses Where MBTA Money Handled
BOSTON (CBS) - Millions of dollars collected from MBTA riders end up at a nondescript brick building in Charlestown, the agency's so-called "money room."
But a new security assessment released by the transit agency reveals some alarming lapses when it comes to keeping all that cash protected.
The report found holes in fences, missing keys, disabled cameras, a door kept together with duct tape, and other doors throughout the building left propped open. One photo included in the report showed an open door with a taped sign that read, "This door should remain shut at all times."
Security consultant Shellie Crandall, who conducted the assessment, told WBZ-TV by phone there is a real danger to the 70 MBTA employees who work at the "money room."
"Without having the right protocol being followed, these employees are in harm's way," Crandall said. "We're not carrying around loaves of bread. It's cash. It's something that everyone else wants."
MBTA leaders say they have already addressed the immediate safety concerns revealed in the report, adding enhanced security and doing things like installing new locks.
Read: MBTA Money Room Security Report
Four of the top managers at the facility are no longer in those positions, the MBTA added.
"While the MBTA believes it has addressed any significant threats to security, a major investment would still be necessary to correct all the problems identified in the audit," said Brian Shortsleeve, the agency's general manager.
The report comes as the MBTA considers outsourcing the jobs at the "money room," and decides whether it should be in the business of handling all that cash. According to figures, the employees help count nearly $200 million per year.
The president of the Boston Carmen's Union Local 589, which represents those MBTA workers, fired back about the report. James O'Brien said employees are being scapegoated, blaming the problems on insufficient oversight and lack of investment.
"The fact that MBTA leadership remains committed to moving forward with outsourcing without first addressing these problems is proof they will seek privatization at any cost," O'Brien said.
On Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker reacted to details of the report, telling WBZ-TV the MBTA should stick to its strengths.
"It's not that unusual for most transit systems to have someone else manage their money room because that's what they do and that's what they're good at," Baker said.
Fresh off a fare hike, some riders at the Sullivan Square station expressed disgust about details of the security assessment.
"If there are no cameras and no accountability, then who knows what could happen with all that money?" said Mitzi Hollinsworth.
"You say there are doors open and keys missing? Then yes, it's time to privatize," said Mark Galloway.
Expect for the topic to be debated at upcoming meetings for the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board.
Ryan Kath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facbook.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports
for more features.