Friday, March 30, 2012

MassDOT, MBTA recommend proposal to close MBTA FY13 budget gap

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Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey and Acting Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority General Manager Jonathan Davis announced their recommended proposal for closing the MBTA's $185 million budget gap for next fiscal year.

Under the proposal, the MBTA will use a combination of administrative efficiencies, fare increases, service changes and one-time revenues to close the gap. In addition, Secretary Davey and General Manager Davis announced that the MBTA is moving forward on a number of fronts to make riding the T more convenient for its 1.3 million daily riders. MBTA is working to bring "countdown clocks" to key MBTA stations as has been recently tested at Logan Airport's Terminal C.

The final proposal, which will be submitted for MBTA board approval April 4th, follows more than two months of public meetings where 6,000 customers weighed in on proposals submitted to the board by MBTA staff in January.

MassDOT and the MBTA, working together during the public comment period, identified a number of cost savings to help reduce the operating deficit from the original $185 million. Each of these items reduced the need for the larger fare increases and service reductions proposed in January. Some of the most significant actions include enrollment of MBTA staff in a new, lower-cost health care program, energy purchase savings and a reduction in authority headcount of 51 positions. Additionally, the T implemented a hiring freeze for non-critical positions.

The final proposal recommends an average fare increase of 23 percent. This would be the first MBTA fare increase in five years and still keep public transit prices in Boston lower than many major cities including New York, Atlanta and Chicago. The fare increase is expected to generate $72.9 million next year.

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