Testimony to the FMCB: Capital Investment Plan Update

Prepared by Tom Ryan, Senior Advisor on Policy, Government & Community Affairs


Testimony to the Joint Meeting of the MBTA Board and the FMCB, Agenda Item 9: Capital Investment Plan Update

Members of the MassDOT Board of Directors and Fiscal and Management Control Board, General Manager Poftak, Secretary Tessler, thank you for the opportunity to submit comments today on the Update to the Capital Investment Plan.

When the legislature and Governor Baker created the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board in 2015, they specifically asked the board to “develop a long-range approach to meeting the future needs of the MBTA’s assets.” Right now, the current draft CIP does not do this.

What is before the Board is really just a one-year CIP update. A Better City is hoping there can be more details available on the 5-year capital plan, especially as there only two months remaining with this FMCB in place.
The public should hear more about how this CIP achieves the stated goals of the FMCB, such as reducing the State of Good Repair Backlog and advancing key priority projects.

In May 2019, the SGR backlog stood at $10.1 Billion. During the CIP deliberations, we should better understand what the SGR number is today and what will it be if you adopt this CIP, as presented?

A few months ago, we learned that capital sources available to the MBTA are expected to decline in 2-3 years. While the MBTA Strategic Plan calls for capital spending of $1.5 billion every year through FY32, to eliminate the SGR backlog, the MBTA’s Pro-Forma shows there is only $1 billion available annually in FY25 through FY30. How will we close this gap to achieve the FMCB goal?

In terms of the key initiatives and new projects, if this is the last CIP approved by this Control Board, there should be specific funding amounts in place beyond FY22 for the priority projects, like Regional Rail Phase 1 infrastructure, as well as construction dollars for the Red-Blue Connector, Advanced Signals for the Red and Orange Lines, and the new Bus Maintenance facilities. We also want to see procurement of battery-electric buses and electric multiple unit (EMU) trains listed in the plan.

Finally, the Joint Board should be asking for more information on how the MBTA is preparing for the federal infrastructure bill. Financial Resources are currently available to initiate the early planning and design on decarbonization, resiliency, and high speed rail projects that are not included the CIP. A pro-active effort would show the federal government that our projects in MA are shovel-worthy, and we can dramatically improve our chances of getting large federal grants once the infrastructure bill passes.

Thank you.

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