- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Charlie Baker said he had a “healthy exchange of views” with the leader of Boston’s beleaguered transit system as the two met Thursday on a frigid day that brought fresh travel woes for commuters.

Baker firmly insisted after the private meeting at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s operations center with General Manager Beverly Scott that he did not pressure her to resign from her job.

The MBTA’s aging equipment has been overwhelmed by the more than two weeks of severe winter weather that has left up to 7 feet of snow on part of the region - with another potentially large storm in the forecast for the weekend. Scott ordered a complete shutdown of rail service Tuesday, one day before her surprise announcement that she planned to step down in April.

“It was a good meeting with a healthy exchange of views,” said Baker, who has been critical of the T’s performance during the storms. “We had a lot of dialogue about things we think we can help them with and what they are up against.”

On Thursday, private coaches from Peter Pan Bus Lines were called in to help the T shuttle passengers from the JFK/UMass station in Boston to Braintree in the suburbs. The MBTA has been unable to run Red Line trains on the heavily traveled route because of a buildup of snow and ice on the tracks, prompting lengthy delays for commuters as shuttle buses became snarled in massive traffic jams in and around the city.

The Carmen’s Union, which represents MBTA drivers, said it agreed to the use of private buses on an emergency basis.

A disabled train delayed passengers Thursday on the Green Line, officials said, and commuter rail lines were also running late because of frozen switches and signals.

Baker, who has no direct authority over the nation’s oldest public transit system, was asked after the meeting - his first with Scott - if he had forced her resignation.

“No, I did not,” he responded.

Scott did not meet with reporters but issued a statement describing her conversation with Baker as substantive and focused and said the meeting would be remembered as “the start of something very good.”

The Pioneer Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, called on the state Thursday to place the MBTA in receivership and halt most expansion and construction in the system. The group also said Massachusetts should assume a portion of the debt the T is carrying for transit projects associated with Boston’s massive highway project known as the Big Dig.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh suggested that the MBTA might consider another shutdown of service if an approaching storm delivers another strong punch to the city over the weekend. The National Weather Service has posted a winter storm watch to begin Saturday, Valentine’s Day, for much of eastern New England and a blizzard watch for coastal areas.


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