MBTA projects grim fiscal picture for next fiscal year


“These are creative and somewhat different ways to generate income. And I think if we’re going to solve the serious financial problems that the T is facing, we have to be as inventive as possible. »

Orange Line trains are seen in the courtyard of Wellington Station. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The MBTA Board of Directors took its first steps Thursday in crafting a budget for the next fiscal year, as the beleaguered transit system faces a gap of more than $200 million in its operating budget and limited options for making up the shortfall. The estimated operating deficit has been on the T’s radar since 2020, though the agency has so far balanced its spending plans with federal pandemic relief dollars and money from its days fund. rain.

In the fiscal year beginning next July, however, federal COVID-19 relief funds will not be an option, and T executives have said they are reluctant to cut service or raise fares, fearing that such measures will derail efforts to restore ridership to pre-pandemic levels. Pressure from the unprecedented month-long shutdown of the Orange Line and the Federal Transit Administration, which issued a scathing report last month ordering the MBTA to hire more staff and improve communication with front-line workers, further complicate plans for the next budget. , and strengthen security controls.

“Given the current spending structure and the core mission of the T, solving the future budget gap of the T is difficult at best,” T Chief Financial Officer Mary Ann O’Hara said at a meeting of the board’s audit and finance subcommittee. His overview of the finances of the T showed a transit system constrained by the fixed cost of providing services, heavy debt service payments for capital projects and expenditures still accrued to address security issues identified by the FTA.

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