Secretary James Aloisi, Executive Office of Transportation
As you read or hear about possible financial scenarios and options for closing the MBTA's $160 million budget deficit, it is important to remember that no decisions have been made about service reductions or fare increases.
The T staff brought forward to the board at a public meeting one month ago a budget for the fiscal year beginning in July 2009 that includes the projected deficit and shows the T's extraordinarily difficult budget circumstance. Just one example is the cost of the principal and interest payments as the bills come due on $5.2 billion in Big Dig-related debt. Those debt payments next year will increase by $77 million, and debt payments overall consume 30% of T revenues.
Despite this daunting financial challenge, as Chairman of the MBTA board and your Transportation Secretary I am committed to reviewing every available option to cut costs and close the gap. Right now the MBTA is busy analyzing a full range of options that may or may not include service cuts. But it is too early to tell since no formal set of options has been presented to me.
At the same time, Governor Patrick 's Transportation and Economic Security Plan calls for fundamental reforms in transportation and in pension benefits, including ending the "23 and out" retirement benefit at the T. The House and Senate have passed reform bills and will soon meet to hammer out the differences. The Governor has also said that only after comprehensive and meaningful reforms are in place should we consider using additional gas tax revenues to avoid service reductions and fare increases at the T.
As these ideas are considered in the coming weeks and months, I want to assure T riders that any decisions about services and fares will be made only after a complete and transparent public review process. Whether they are using the T to get to work, school or to a doctor’s appointment millions of our state’s residents depend on the T as a critical transportation service. I am committed to ensuring that the MBTA undertakes a robust civic engagement process before any decisions are reached.