The Tremont Street Subway in Boston began service in 1897 as the first subway tunnel in North America. That subway tunnel was the beginning of the now complex rail transit system that is commonly known as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), or “the T.” With an average of 1.3 million passengers riding its heavy rail, light rail, trolleys, buses, and ferryboats each weekday, this is one of the busiest transit systems in the country.
I recently had the opportunity to tour the MBTA system and learn how such a complex legacy system is managed. I also heard about the collaboration that has developed between the MBTA and its safety oversight body—the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (MDPU). I often used the T years ago when I was in law school, so it was very informative to see how the system has grown and changed in the intervening years.