• Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation report: MBTA on course toward ‘fiscal calamity’

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: sery2831, CRail

  by BandA
I'm shocked that people find audio announcements more interesting than the elephant in the room.
Herald article (actually the State House News Service) https://www.bostonherald.com/2021/09/16 ... -calamity/
“This report has laid out a stark reality. Patches and quick fixes cannot buy enough time, nor can the MBTA fix this,” the authors concluded.
Meanwhile Boston mayoral candidate Michelle Wu and candidate for governator Ben Downing (who?) want to make the situation worse by eliminating fares.
https://www.masstaxpayers.org/mbta-fina ... ng-leaders
Beginning in July of 2023, the MBTA’s operating budget is hundreds of millions of dollars in the red, requiring substantial fare increases or service cuts almost immediately to address the shortfall.
Available capital sources to fix the existing infrastructure plummet in July 2024, leaving the MBTA $13 billion short of its projected needs.
and finally, here is the actual report: https://www.masstaxpayers.org/sites/def ... 2021_0.pdf
  by BandA
Further darkening this grim fiscal outlook is the fact that even with greatly diminished demand in 2020-2021, the MBTA did not reduce service levels or control operating costs and was therefore unable to preserve funds for future needs.
The Romney administration had the opportunity to start fixing things; he controlled the board, he appointed the general manager, and the major contracts were up for renewal. But he wanted to run for president, and if he tried to fix the "T" there would have been pushback. Easier to kick the can. Baker has had years to fix the "T" also, but he has also kicked the can whenever possible.
  by NRGeep
And Baker's poison pill idea that then Governor Weld initiated, dumped 1.7 billion of Big Dig debt into the MBTA's budget. Spin it any way you want, it has not helped the T's financial stability then or now. Move that debt from the T to the state lottery or another more financially robust state agency and the 'fiscal calamity' would be much more manageable, Covid or no Covid.
  by Trinnau
Forget the debt service, forget the capital backlog. They're a part of it but still won't fix the T's primary mission of providing service.

MBTA is running close to pre-pandemic service levels with far less than half of the pre-pandemic ridership. Providing this service costs money and with minimal revenue coming in through farebox another source of operating funds is needed - right now its being covered by federal relief funds which will run out. If I remember right, the MBTA was subsidized something like $187 million by the state on a $1B operating budget pre-pandemic. Nothing that "fixing the T" being done before this would have made a difference. The T's operating budget would still rely heavily on fare revenue which it is now sorely lacking with all evidence pointing to it not recovering for years.

In order to keep service running the state basically needs to do what Michelle Wu has been championing for and run the service without any fare revenue. The alternative is to slash service and lay people off in order to reduce operating costs.
  by Disney Guy
Given that so many dollars of Big Dig dept were dumped on the MBTA ...

Suppose that the legislature had to make an emergency appropriation to the MBTA later in the fiscal year ...

Would not the two items above combined together result in a defacto removal of some of the Big Dig debt from the MBTA?
  by charlesriverbranch
Huh? Wasn't Charlie Baker's fiscal management bozo board supposed to stop the hemorrhaging?

I said at the time: you want something fixed, you put someone in charge, give them the resources he or she needs, and you stand back and let them fix it. But if you just want to look like you're doing something, you appoint a committee. We can see which alternative Baker chose.

Yes, the Big Dig debt has nothing to do with the T, and the T shouldn't be responsible for it.