MBTA Review


This document is the result of an independent review of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) requested by Governor Deval Patrick. Begun in late August 2009, the review’s mission was to examine the MBTA’s financial condition, operations and organization. The Governor asked us to provide a “frank assessment of the MBTA’s condition.” He directed his administration and MBTA officials to cooperate with this review and they did so fully. At no time did anyone in the administration interfere with or attempt to influence our process or findings. No government or MBTA official read or edited this report in advance of its delivery to the Governor.

Our findings deadline was November 1, 2009. Within this time frame it was possible to conduct a top-line review of the MBTA’s performance versus past plans and future expectations. We were able to determine “what works well, what doesn’t work well and the extent of its challenges.” While it was unfortunately impossible to meet with all of the MBTA’s many constituencies, we conducted hundreds of relevant interviews.

Our work involved these basic aspects:

We were not asked for specific recommendations.

In forming our conclusions, we verified and utilized data from a variety of reports, public documents, MBTA and Executive Office of Transportation documents as well as information generated from interviews and meetings. Most of the MBTA financial information is from MBTA audited statements and/or its Chief Financial Officer and his staff.

As regards other urban transportation systems, we note that many also face deficits and great challenges. We focused on the MBTA’s issues, as every system is very different in terms of age, size, modes of transportation and funding mechanisms. Generally, we did examine major market comparisons in wages, fare prices and cost per mile and determined the MBTA was within reasonable ranges.

But, in our time frame of 60 days, our primary assignment was to review one system—the MBTA. Here is what we found...