With two train derailments in the past week – including one on the Green Line that caused numerous injuries and a second on the Red Line that will likely cause long-term disruptions – the MBTA’s woes aren’t going away any time soon.

Frustrated commuters probably weren’t surprised at the news on Wednesday that federal records show the T has one of the highest rates of derailments in the country, with 43 in the period from 2014-2018, according to the Boston Globe. T officials say more stringent reporting requirements might account for that high number, but the hair-splitting won’t pacify anyone who has to rely on the subway system to get to work, school or anywhere else on a regular basis. And keep in mind that these derailments occurred on mild summer days, not in the dead of a freezing, snowy winter. 

The state Democratic Party said Wednesday it launched a petition drive which “calls on the governor to do something one million people do on a daily basis – take the T.”

That gimmick will get some headlines but doesn’t seriously begin to address how to fix this shaky public transportation system. 

Charlie Baker’s reluctance to ride the rails has always been disappointing; his silence this week while MBTA officials stood before the bank of microphones and tried to explain what happened in the derailments and what they are trying to do about it is a real head-scratcher.

Now is the time for leadership by Baker and legislative leaders who will ramp up and speed up spending to update this 20th century public transportation system that we’ve all been studying and grousing about for years. With Boston’s dozens of colleges and universities, countless important banks and businesses, and its role as “the Hub” of the Massachusetts economy and government, taxpayers and lawmakers in the region need to get behind serious spending for upgrades to public transit or risk having a rail system that can never catch up to the future.

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