BOSTON — Newly released details of the MBTA’s pension program show that more than one-third of the transit agency’s pensioners retired before the age of 55 and more than a thousand started collecting pensions in their 40s.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority on Thursday released a list of nearly 6,400 names, many of whom are receiving pensions as a vestige of a program that allowed employees to start collecting pensions after 23 years of service, no matter their age. That long-criticized system has since been abolished and replaced by a program that allows employees to retire with a pension at age 55 with 25 years of service.
The T’s $1.77 billion retirement fund has long resisted making the information public, saying it is a private trust, but a transportation finance bill passed in July required that the information be released.
Calls for release of the information increased as taxpayers have been forced provide more to cover T pensions. Those payments reached $56.3 million last fiscal year, up from $30 million the 2007 fiscal year.
“I think it’s safe to say, when I hear some people with a full boat in their 40s, that raises some eyebrows, and that is precisely the reason we wanted to take a look at some of these documents to make sure the tax dollars are being spent correctly,” Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, told the Boston Herald.
The information was released Thursday by the MBTA and not by the pension fund itself. It shows eight retirees are collecting more than $70,000 annually, and all retired before age 60.
The highest annual pension is $76,881.84, given to Joan Martin, who retired in 2003 at the age of 53 as deputy general manager for organizational diversity, labor relations and employee relations.
Robert Prince, former MBTA general manager, who retired at 52 and receives $76,617.72 per year, had the second highest pension.