Auditor: MBTA’s ‘Money Room’ Is a Spectacular, Duct-Taped Mess

Who knew the T had its own grill pit?

Photo by Meredith Foley

Photo by Meredith Foley

Just a few days after the MBTA’s latest fare hike, an audit has reported “severe” security lapses in the transportation authority’s so-called “money room,” where nearly $200 million in fares and other MassDOT funds are counted annually.

The $50,000 audit—obtained by the Herald and performed by security consultant Shellie Crandall and Chicago-based consultant firm 4 Demand—arrives as Gov. Charlie Baker continues his push for privatization of the money room, which employs 70 union workers.

“My initial reaction was, ‘I can’t believe that a government agency is doing this work,’” Crandall told the Herald. “I know it may sound like I’m being dramatic, but I’ve been in this industry for 25 years. I’ve had eight people shot and killed on my watch. This is a very serious business,” she said of cash-handling operations. “I don’t know what has caused the management or [the employees] not to have that sense of understanding.”

The audit found that T workers had used homemade doorstops to prop open doors with signs that explicitly ordered them shut at all times. One vault door handle was broken and held together with duct tape. Several of the cash room’s 200 security cameras were disabled, as were the timed locks on the main vault, which prevent access in off-hours.

But that’s not even the worst of it. Cash room employees had set up a “grill pit” and picnic table just outside one door without a working alarm, while one worker had been spotted wearing basketball shorts and flip-flops. Auditors found between 500 and 1,000 copies of fare box keys in one vault, with many more “haphazardly” strewn across the facility.

“You don’t need 1,000 keys. You don’t need 100 keys,” Crandall said. “You’re talking less than five, 10 people should have those keys.”

MBTA general manager Brian Shortsleeve told the Herald that the money room’s four union supervisors have all been removed, and the building’s four exterior locks have all been replaced. James O’Brien, president of Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, said, “The fact that MBTA leadership remains committed to moving forward with outsourcing without first addressing these problems is proof that they will seek privatization at any cost.”