Understanding The MBTA's Financial Problems

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The MBTA has been shut down for almost 24 hours, leaving many commuters scrambling for other ways to get to work and back home.

Historic amounts of snow have a lot to do with the crisis facing the T. But so do years of under-funding and ambitious expansion plans.

Tuesday, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott mounted a passionate defense of the system, and of her management of it. Speaking at a press conference, an animated and energetic Scott said the T's biggest challenge is a lack of funding.

"Yes, the T needs to be efficient. It needs to push itself. But this is not just about cutting costs," Scott said. "You can cut every cost you wanted over here and that is not going to wind up taking the place for what has to be systemic, planned, serious, bold reinvestment in terms of this doggone transportation system. Not just to wind up keeping it where it is, but to wind up making it be what it can absolutely be in terms of being a modern, top-notch, serving-with-pride transportation system."

Scott said T workers are struggling to run an aged system that's getting pounded every day by what she called "a perfect storm," which would have been a challenge for just about any transportation system in the country.

"I've worked the new systems: the Houstons, the Dallases and all that. So what happened here, it would have taken anybody down. Anybody. But let me tell you the difference: when you're new, the ability to rebound because you've got the resilience is there," Scott said.


Jack Lepiarz, WBUR reporter.

Mustapha Ezzarghani, Cambridge resident who works at a cafe in Brigham & Women's Hospital.

Charles Chieppo, a research fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School and head of Chieppo Strategies, a public policy writing and advocacy firm.


The Boston Globe: How to fix the T

  • "Fixing the T will require reform, restraint, and money, and it will be far more difficult than it would have been had state leaders acted when the agency’s problems became apparent more than a decade ago."

The Boston Globe: Debt from Big Dig hampers Mass. transportation

  • "State debt associated with the $15 billion project is spread among a variety of agencies and funded by several revenue sources, making it difficult to pinpoint the state's exact obligations."

This segment aired on February 10, 2015.


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