The MBTA faces a minimum $160 million budget gap in FY10 with larger gaps projected for FY11 and FY12. Just last week the MBTA Advisory Board voted to close the projected FY10 deficit with a staggering amount of layoffs that would dramatically impact service throughout our system. But, without new revenue that is the stark future we face. And to me that is unacceptable.
We also have to recognize that the MBTA continues to face serious budget strains that could
further impact its deficit beyond the projected $160 million. Based on the proposals passed by both the House and Senate we can reasonably assume that up to $160 million may become available to help the MBTA. However, this additional funding alone will not provide long term fiscal stability to the MBTA. In particular, it will not help us eliminate the Authority’s enormous debt burden. Without
significant reforms that will result in real cost savings – especially by bringing parity to health
and pension benefits – combined with a more sustainable revenue source the MBTA will
continue to face fiscal instability.
It is fiscally prudent to prepare for a two to three year solution. We must therefore begin the process of considering a fare increase and/or service cuts to address the MBTA’s long term budget outlook.
The General Manager and I discussed and MBTA Board approved an updated public process for vetting a proposal for fare increases and service cuts with an expedited timeline that ensures the same level of robust public workshops and public outreach that riders have come to expect. In fact, it ensures public involvement earlier in the process and encourages more interaction. This process will ensure
significant opportunity for public input.
Within the next few weeks, I have asked the GM and MBTA staff to present the public with
the options we are considering and to receive public input on those options. The MBTA will announce the times and locations of the public workshops that will be essential to the public comment period.
No one, especially me, takes a decision to raise fares or cut service lightly. Our decisions will
impact people’s lives. But we have inherited a legacy of debt and inaction that we must
confront today. Almost one-third of MBTA revenues go, not toward service improvements or
system enhancements, but to interest payments on a mountain of burdensome debt. At the
same time I can assure you that the General Manager and I are committed to implementing
ongoing reforms that will produce efficiencies, reduce costs and save the MBTA money.
Throughout this process I want to hear from the hundreds and thousands of T riders who rely on the MBTA every day to get to work, school or a doctor's appointment about your preference – do we rely solely on an increase in fares to avoid service cuts or is a mix more appropriate? I value the role that public transit plays in our lives and in our region’s economy. I understand how important the MBTA is to you and I promise that I will fight every day to strengthen our public transit system.
View the public process plan on the MBTA web site.