From Bad to Worse: State Capital Plan drops bus investment for next five years

Date of Release: 
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Press Contact(s): 

Lee Matsueda, 617-592-1295, lee@ace-ej.org

[January 29, 2014] Boston, MA - Last night the Massachusetts Department of Transportation kicked off a series of six public hearings on two state plans, including the $12.4 billion draft Capital Investment Plan (CIP). After securing much needed dollars through the Transportation Investment Act passed at the State House last July, transportation officials have inexplicably left out $272 million over the next five years for critical MBTA bus maintenance and replacement. Instead, the plan proposes to push bus investment to sometime after 2019, leaving transit advocates and riders wondering if this is a bad dream or a nightmare coming to life.

At the hearing at the Transportation Building in Boston last night, many spoke about the pressing need for bus improvements and investment to fix our crumbling public transportation system.

"You think bus service is bad today? If the bus investment isn't restored, there will be more delays, more buses not in service. This simply cannot wait until 2019. We need to invest in our buses now or we'll be paying later," said Louise Baxter of South Boston, and Chairperson of the T Riders Union (TRU).

By 2019, 85 percent of the MBTA's buses will be beyond their useful life and the remaining 15 percent will be 11 years old. Buses have a useful life of 12 years before needing an overhaul. This maintenance is critical for safety and operations, but the story does not end there. After 18 years, buses should be replaced altogether.

Today, 11 percent of MBTA buses are 20 years old and on average, have racked over 500,000 miles, which is enough to ride around the earth 20 times. Without investment in the next five years, these buses will have to stay in service until the summer of 2022 or else there will be noticeable cuts to service due to bus shortages.

This disinvestment could not come at a worse time—ridership has hit record numbers and there are not even enough buses on the road today to meet the needs of residents.

Stuart Spina from Chelsea also testified saying, "The buses I rode in second grade are the same buses I ride today. No wonder they're breaking down. The state needs to make this a priority. They found $20 million to pilot late night service that serves a small percentage of ridership. What about all the bus riders who account for 385,000 daily T rides? What about low-income people and working-class families that have no other option to get around than public transit?"

Public hearings on the CIP will continue through February 10.

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T Riders Union - The T Riders Union (TRU) is a program of Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE). For over 14 years TRU has worked for an affordable, reliable and accessible public transit system that strengthens our economy, improves air quality and creates healthy, sustainable neighborhoods | @AceEJ | www.facebook.com/tridersunion