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benveniste

September 2017

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The MBTA shut down all trains at 7pm yesterday.  There were no trains today and only a limited bus schedule.  For tomorrow, here's a rundown of what the MBTA is currently saying:

  • 70% of the regularly scheduled trips on the commuter Rail

  • Fewer cars and less frequent service on the Blue and Green lines

  • "Limited" Service on the Red and Orange lines

Users of the "T" and the taxpayers of Massachusetts are justifiably angry.  Current Governor Charlie Baker is a Republican. Dr. Beverly Scott, the CEO of the MBTA, is an appointee of his Democratic predecessor.  Add a strongly pro-Union 2nd-year Boston mayor to the mix and you have the ingredients of a truly ugly political battle.

The weather over the last three weeks has been unprecedented, but that's only exposed the long-standing problems.  So before taking sides in this troika, here are a few links and a few selected observations:

You can find an abbreviated report on the T's historical Income and Expenses here:

http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/About_the_T/Financials/SORE%20History%20FY15%20budget.xls

You can find a selection of T ridership statistics (aka The Blue Book) here:
http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/document_library/?search=Blue+Book

Looking at the spreadsheets and first and last year of Blue Books, between FY2007 and FY2014:

  • Ridership as measured by unlinked trips is up 5%

  • Total Operating Costs are up 46%

  • Wages are up 27%

  • Fringe Benefits are up 26%

  • Outsourced Expenses are up 78%

  • Percentage Revenue from fares has dropped from 35% to 33%

  • Unless it's hidden in the "Materials, Supplies, and Services" catch-all, depreciation is not included in determining deficits or surpluses.

So as the debates and blood-letting play out over the next few months and the claims and counterclaims fly, remember those links and figures.  Dr. Scott has only been on the job since 2012, so all three of the players inherited this mess.  Perhaps Massachusetts pols should spend less time on an Olympic-sized ego trips and more time managing the day-to-day operations of the Commonwealth.
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