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2017 February Luncheon Seminar Recap

Frank Monkiewicz Photography www.frankmonkiewicz.com

Written By:  Paige Scott Reed, Anderson & Kreiger LLP

In February, WTS-Boston welcomed Brian Shortsleeve, MBTA Acting General Manager, for an in-depth discussion of the challenges facing the MBTA, as well as the remarkable progress the MBTA has recently shown in meeting them. 

Brian set an optimistic tone by celebrating the MBTA’s success in serving record crowds after the New England Patriot’s record fifth Superbowl win and demonstrating how investments in modern technology helped the MBTA keep trains running during Winter Storm Niko. 

Brian then treated audience members to an inside view of the structural difficulties the MBTA must overcome.  For the past 15 years, ridership at the MBTA remained nearly flat, while operating costs continued to grow.    Dedicated funding for the MBTA, as well as revenue generated by the MBTA itself, have experienced growth of less than two percent.  Operating expenses have grown three times faster than dedicated revenues, leading to a growing structural deficit. 

To combat this reality, the MBTA made difficult choices.  Those choices, as Brian explained, have begun to show results.  For example, the MBTA modernized its approach to delivering paratransit services by partnering with Uber and Lyft.  Cost per trip has fallen by as much as 80%, while customer satisfaction remained high.  The MBTA also successfully renegotiated its contract with its largest union, Carmen’s Union Local 589, to drive productivity and produce projected savings of $220 million over ten years. Finally, the MBTA has leveraged flexible contracting to improve performance and reduce costs in the MBTA money room and at the MBTA’s warehouse. 

Moving forward, the MBTA is focused on the rider experience.  At the commuter rail, the MBTA is working to improve on time performance by increasing coach and locomotive availability.  The MBTA will also work to accelerate capital delivery to speed investment in State of Good Repair.  The MBTA is investing $250 million to fully replace its Red Line Fleet, increasing capacity on the Red Line by 50%, and reducing headways from 4.5 to 3 minutes.  The MBTA is moving forward with the historic extension of the Green Line, after a significant project reset.  And, the MBTA is planning for its future through Focus40, a long term capital investment plan that will serve as a blueprint for fixing MBTA infrastructure.



To see more photos from the event, please visit the WTS-Boston Flickr page here.




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