Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack took calls from listeners Thursday on Boston Public Radio. Pollack talked about the formation of an MBTA control board, shoring up the T in three to five years, open-road tolling, and much more.

Questions below are paraphrased, and Pollack's answers edited where noted [...].

So, are we close to fixing the T?

Sadly, I am not here to announce that we've fixed the T, but I will say that we are hard at work making changes. [...] Some of the fixing is kind of [the legislature's] responsibility, they have to give us some tools, and both the House and the Senate in their budgets [are trying].

Have you had conversations with Boston 2024 about working on their bidding and planning processes?

No, I mean, there have been conversations. Among other things — Widett Circle where the Boston 2024 has been talking about putting the main stadium, which is actually [...] home to a major Red Line facility and a major bus garage, so we have talked to them about that. [...] I think the discussion to date has assumed that any infrastructure improvements would be at public expense. And as most people know, the MBTA has a $6.2 billion backlog. [...] We have to make the investments that make sense for the T, with or without the Olympics.

What do you make of the controversy over Olympic-related transportation projects being funded?

I think once we see the [...] revised venue plan it will be easier to see where we would need transit capacity. [...] If there’s going to be an athlete's village on the water near UMass, there was some talk in the first go-round [about infrastructure improvements].

Isn't it odd transportation infrastructure will be so crucial to the Olympic process, but they haven't sought you out to figure out what projects are funded and unfunded? 

I assume [Boston 2024 CEO] Rich Davey knows what is and isn't in [the] transportation capital plans.

Do you think we're likely to have a financial and management control board for the T, like Gov. Baker wants to?

We hope so. The House budget contained important relief from the Pacheco law against contracting out. It did not address the control board initially. [...] The Senate budget does contain the control board, so we are hoping that [...] we will see the control board, but exactly how the control board works, who's on it and what power they have [will be important].

And you think this control board is absolutely essential?

It is a mechanism has been shown to work in places like Chelsea and Springfield. [...] In a matter of years they got the finances in order and put in place new management structures. [...] Given that track record, we want that for the T. [...] Three to five years and you will really have not only a transit system that will be in better shape, but we will have a transit agency that's positioned to take [the T] into the 21st century.

The control board would operate for a limited time.

The control board is three years. If they need more time they can last two years longer, but there's an absolute [maximum of] 5 years.

What are the T's money needs in the short term?

We don't need any money for the next year that we don't already have.

After this winter and so many service interruptions, there is a school of thought that Keolis was not a good pick to run the commuter rail. What do you think about that?

2011 was a horrific year for Mass Bay [the former commuter rail operator]. It's got its problems. That said, [...] even with the winter behind us the performance has not been what it needs to be. There've been a lot of bumps on the road. [...] The second year is going to go a lot better than the first one went.

Can you dump them?

It's an eight-year contract, and of course we can break the contract, but it's not like there are dozens of companies [out there].

Could private transportation companies like Bridj or Uber fill in gaps where MBTA service is lacking?

I absolutely believe that there is a strong role for public [assets] and a strong role for the private sector [...] to supplement what the T can do. [...] I would love to work with a company like Bridj [...] and figure out if there's a better, more cost-effective way to provide our night-owl service. We're paying $20 a trip for our night owl service [per bus rider]!

Will late-night T service go away eventually?

I hope that it doesn't, [but] a lot of the trips at that time in the night you only have eight, nine, ten people on the bus. We only own one kind of bus.

Will we see open tolling on all Mass. interstates?

The entire Mass Pike is going to go to electronic tolling.

What's the holdup?

Actually, the toll booths are designed to slow people down, so you gotta make sure that when you take them away it's still a safe road.