Tuesday, December 19, 2017

FMCB report recognizes MBTA transformation efforts

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FMCB report recognizes MBTA transformation efforts MBTA

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has the "groundwork in place for a much better future," according to the Third Annual Report of the Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB).


The report says MBTA's transformation is gaining speed into a safe, reliable and well-managed transit system less than three years after it nearly organizationally imploded. The FMCB was created to govern the T in the wake of the system's winter woes in 2015.

"Due to the hard work of T employees, the authority is now much better positioned to achieve its strategic goals," said FMCB Chairman Joseph Aiello. "We still have work to do, but we believe that our most important stakeholders – the people who use and pay for the T every day – will continue to experience steady improvements as the system becomes more reliable and capable of meeting this region's current and future needs."

The report cites the Green Line Extension Project and the public-private partnership model being utilized for MBTA's next generation fare collection, AFC 2.0, as evidence of the new institutional capacity in place at the T.

The 87-page report has been filed with the Massachusetts legislature and notes a range of significant improvements since 2015, including:

  • In 2015, the T was facing steadily increasing operating budget deficits, with the FY17 deficit projected to reach $242 million. Instead, the FY17 deficit was $30 million, with savings from operating costs directly going to system improvements. The fiscal discipline and controls now in place, reflected by zero growth in core operating expenses for two straight years, will help enable the T to confront serious fiscal headwinds, especially in FY19 and beyond;
  • In FY17, the T invested $811 million in its capital program (more than double what it was five years ago);
  • In FY18, the T is awarding $450 million in state-of-good repair contracts, fueling a robust pipeline for current and future improvements (In FY15, the T awarded $75 million in construction contracts to improve the T's state-of-good repair);
  • Marking a "generational improvement," new fleets of buses and subway cars are in the works. The Authority has purchased 375 new buses, 369 of which are already in service. And the first of 152 Orange line cars will be tested on MBTA tracks in early 2018 and will be carrying customers by the end of 2018;
  • The T is attracting and retaining the talent it needs to plan, maintain and operate the system that exists today and the system being planned for tomorrow.

"[T]his third year of the FMCB has seen [that] transformation gain speed," says the report. "The greatest challenge facing this board and the T in the years ahead is to ensure that the structural, fiscal and operational changes that have been or are being currently put in place truly translate into meaningful, consistent improvements for system users."