Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Deficit imperils MBTA capital program

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Facing a $160 million deficit, the Massachusetts BayTransportation Authority (MBTA) is waiting for a rescue plan from the state legislature before it goes forward with its annual approval of money of replace and maintain subway cars and buses as well as rail infrastructure. The board delayed a scheduled vote on April 13.

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MBTA's ongoing capital investment plan, mostly to maintain "state of good repair" with only 2% designated for expansion, would require the borrowing of $1 billion to support this year's planned $3.9 billion program.

One board member, asserting that "this is the most highly leveraged transit system in the United States," was quoted as saying: "We just cannot afford to borrow an additional million."

While it waits for the legislature to make a final decision on a proposed increase in the gasoline tax to help pay for transit improvements, the agency is considering rail, rapid transit, and bus service cuts that have been called "potentially drastic."