MBTA speed restrictions dashboard

Happening today:

11 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey participates in an investor conference call hosted by the state Treasury. Officials will "discuss a number of relevant topics including state revenue collections, fiscal and budget updates and the upcoming [general obligation] bond financing," and the treasurer's office will give a review of state capital financing activities and "information on upcoming plans." Call wraps up with a question-answer period. Dial 800-225-9448, passcode CREDIT

9 a.m. | NOAA's Atlantic Cod Working Group holds an engagement meeting to provide an update on the Atlantic cod research track assessment and availability of fish to the fishery over time, and changes in selectivity of the fishery over time.

10 a.m. | Charles River Watershed Association and Rep. Stanley hold Charles River climate adaptation legislative briefing. | House Members Lounge, Third Floor State House

1 p.m. | AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey will be the featured speaker at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon where he'll "discuss the future of connectivity, the growing importance of 5G and fiber, and the status of efforts to close the digital divide." | Wharf Room, Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston

With no end in sight for the slow zones that have left more than a quarter of MBTA’s subway system slugging along, it’s safe to say Boston-area commuters are stuck on ‘T’ time.

Gov. Maura Healey appears to be taking her time, too, when it comes to installing new leadership.

From falling concrete to mounting delays, a blistering federal safety report, trains stranded on highways to derailments, problems continue to pile up like a comedy of errors for the beleaguered transit agency.

High-profile system failures including lost paperwork that briefly pushed the entire system in slow gear as officials turned their attention to fixing numerous track defects and lifted speed restrictions on some lines. A total fix will require temporary shutdowns over multiple nights and weekends in April, the MBTA announced Thursday.

Fourteen days after officials dropped speed limits on all five train lines “out of an abundance of caution,” the MBTA on Thursday released an interactive dashboard where commuters can monitor speeds in real time.

The situation is treating Bay Staters to a bit of déjà vu. The MBTA has become a sharp thorn in the side of the Healey administration’s early days. Former Gov. Charlie Baker confronted a failing transportation system stopped in its tracks by massive blizzards and aging infrastructure as he stepped into office. 

While Healey has accepted ownership of the transit woes since taking the corner office, the Cambridge Democrat has long-labeled the blundering transportation agency’s failures “unacceptable.”

All the same, Healey blew past her self-imposed deadline to hire a transportation safety chief in her first 60 days in office. Now 18 days past her expiration date, Healey told WBUR she’s “very, very close” to installing the safety guru. Much of the leadership that ran the system under former Gov. Charlie Baker still haunts the halls.

She’s also yet to name her new MBTA general manager — a role she did not outfit with a timestamp. The governor does appear to be interviewing candidates, The Boston Globe reported.

The mounting transit issues appear to be putting a dent in T ridership. Barely 346,000 people rode the T on an average weekday in January, compared with 688,000 riders per day in January 2020, state data show. 

Healey declined an invitation from a rider to step aboard herself during an appearance on WBUR earlier this week.

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MBTA watch 🚇

Days since the last derailment, fire, falling debris, or critical incident: 2

Days with localized speed restrictions: 14

Days without “normal” weekday subway service: 275

On Jan. 5, Gov. Healey pledged to hire a new MBTA Transportation Safety Chief within 60 days. It has now been 78 days without the position being filled.

Stretching pandemic assistance: Legislature sends $1.1 billion bill to gov

A bill featuring $388 million in spending directed at “time-sensitive, urgent” needs —including $130 million to provide enhanced nutrition assistance benefits for three months after federal benefits ended this month — along with $740 million in borrowing plan could become the first major measure Healey signs into law. The bill also extends pandemic-era policies allowing to-go cocktails at restaurants, outdoor dining and remote public meetings.

State House News

Ousted MassGOP chair suing party for triple back pay faces suit by UPS

Ex-MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons is caught between two lawsuits, alleging in one the party he used to lead failed to pay him thousands in owed salary, and accused in another of stiffing the United Parcel Services company for even more, writes Matthew Medsger of The Boston Herald.

The Boston Herald

Antisemitic incidents at an all-time high in Massachusetts and across the country

An unprecedented 3,697 recorded incidents made 2022 the worst year on record for antisemitic assaults, harassment and vandalism, according to the Anti-Defamation League.Massachusetts ranked sixth in the nation in the number of such acts. There were 152 reported incidents fueled by hatred against Jewish people in 71 cities and towns across the state. 


At odds: Sports regulations divide stakeholders

The issue of third-party affiliate marketing has pitted the sports betting industry against the Attorney General’s office, leaving Mass. Gaming Commission regulators to decide whether to allow certain marketing arrangements in Massachusetts. The ads let a company pay content websites and publishers to drive customers to its product. In the sports betting world, that often takes the form of sports betting-related websites that get paid to promote the legal sportsbooks they partner with.

State House News

Proof is in the pudding: COVID wastewater levels drop 20%

Three years into the coronavirus pandemic, COVID wastewater levels are continuing to drop in Boston. State health officials on Thursday reported a 20% decrease in new virus cases and falling hospitalizations, writes Rick Sobey of The Boston Herald. Data from the Boston Public Health Commission’s wastewater surveillance program shows that the number of COVID particles in the wastewater plunged 42% over the past two weeks.

The Boston Herald

Why only one: Somerville first to protect polyamorous people from discrimination 

In another first-of-its-kind ordinance, Somerville city councilors unanimously approved an anti-discrimination ordinance to protect people in polyamorous and other consensually nonmonogamous relationships. It prohibits employment and policing discrimination against those involved with two or more people. Three years ago, the city became the first in the nation to include polyamorous relationships in domestic partnerships.

The Boston Globe

Affordable housing projects in Boston under threat from Silicon Valley Bank collapse

Silicon Valley Bank inherited a role in financing construction — including affordable housing alongside nonprofits for urban neighborhoods and first-time homebuyers when it bought out Boston Private Bank two years ago. While the FDIC intervention has stopped construction from grinding to a halt, at least a dozen ongoing projects with SVB financing, representing about 600 apartments, are on the line in Massachusetts, writes Jon Chesto for The Boston Globe.

The Boston Globe

No trespassing: Rockport waterfront access under threat from wealthy homeowner

A wealthy oceanfront homeowner in Rockport is looking to reduce public access to the water via two footpaths that border both sides of the property. The public’s right to enjoy the coastal rocks and ledges at the edge of Andrew’s Point have been guaranteed by deed for 137 years.

The Boston Globe

Boston sees housing construction plunge in 2023

A residential construction boom appears to be slowing down in Boston, where just a couple hundred building permits — mainly for two- or three-family homes or small rental buildings — were issued so far this year, a review of city records by Contrarian Boston revealed. That’s compared to more than 1,000 during the same period last year in early 2022, writes Scott Van Voorhis.

Contrarian Boston

Political reporter Alison King signs off NBC

NBC10 Boston & NECN Political Reporter Alison King will give her final goodbye after 28 years of reporting on the issues of New England. As she starts her next chapter, NBC Boston looks back on her legendary career and the impact she’s had as a reporter, a role model for women, and as a holiday entertainer.

NBC Boston

MCLA may turn one of its dorms into shelter for homeless 

The Mass. College of Liberal Arts in North Adams is advancing a plan to lease a vacant dormitory building to the Department of Housing and Community Development to house up to 50 homeless families. Local officials are asking for more information on the project, which comes as the state’s shelter system strains at the seams.

The Berkshire Eagle

A very special election: Barnstable ballot lines up for once-in-a-decade vote 

All 13 seats on the Barnstable Town Council are up for election this year, a quirk of the calendar driven by Census results that has campaign season off to an early and busy start, Heather McCarron of the Cape Cod Times reports.

Cape Cod Times

State’s medical school cleared for second campus in Burlington 

UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester has been given the green light to open a second campus in Burlington under a partnership with Lahey Hospital & Medical Center first announced last year. The expansion gives the state’s public medical school a second regional campus after a Springfield facility that opened in 2015.

Worcester Business Journal

Weekend political and policy talk shows

Keller@Large | 8:30 a.m. Sunday | WBZ-TV | Political analyst Jon Keller interviews Rep. Katherine Clark (D-5th District), House Minority Whip, discussing the partisan divide in the House, her push for more child care funding, and prospects for Democrats regaining the majority next year.

On The Record | 11 a.m. Sunday | WCVB-TV | House Speaker Ron Mariano will be the guest of the week. Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti host. Democratic Political Analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Rob Gray join the roundtable discussion.

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MASSterList editor Erin Tiernan is an award-winning reporter who brings a decade's worth of experience covering state and local politics from the halls of the State House to city streets. Her work can be found in The Boston Herald, The Patriot Ledger, MassLive and Wicked Local. She was the New England Newspaper and Press Association's 2019 Reporter of the Year.