Testimony: MBTA Safety & Investment Priorities

Delivered by Caitlin Allen-Connelly, Project Director

Members of the Board, thank you for the opportunity to submit comments today.

Despite the FMCB and the T’s efforts to improve safety and safety culture, the recent FTA letter and subsequent oversight signal that more work remains. As noted by General Manger Poftak yesterday at A Better City’s Board meeting, “safety must continue to be the MBTA’s and this Board’s number one priority.”

Today, you will consider the $9.6 billion FY23-27 CIP that establishes the T’s investment priorities for the next five years. I note that the plan includes a new line item to support the Authority’s Capital Program Safety Assurance Program – a positive initiative.

A Better City is concerned about the MBTA’s approach towards public comments in the draft CIP. Despite widespread support voiced during the public comment period, the CIP:

  • Under invests in rail transformation, with $55.6 million allocated for planning purposes and $9.5 million for hands-on work—a fraction of the $2.6 billion in capital costs needed to implement Phase 1: Regional Rail, leaving the timeline for rail transformation up in the air;1
  • Leaves a funding gap for the bus facility construction costs to modernize the Arborway Garage, which is critical to achieving the MBTA’s bus transformation on schedule;
  • Does not include funding beyond design for projects like the Red-Blue Connector; and
  • Lacks specifics on investments that respond to system climate change vulnerabilities.

The Board should direct the MBTA to meaningfully consider public comments—and not just provide a summary of reactions—as well as allocate additional funding in the FY23-27 CIP to support statewide transportation decarbonization goals, strengthen the system’s resilience to climate change, and address future service needs and demand.

A strong CIP will put the MBTA on the path toward meeting the current and future needs of this region. The same holds true for the T’s operating budget. A Better City recognizes the Board for its concern and attention to the future operating budget deficit. Proactively addressing the fiscal threat will strengthen the Commonwealth’s ability to sustain the T as a critical cornerstone to the region’s mobility, environment, and economy.

A Better City stands ready to support efforts to develop a sustainable funding model that meets the region’s public transit needs. Thank you.


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