Urban Fold

Boston Subway in Danger of Becoming a Victim of Its Own Success

A new report from the Urban Land Institute concludes that Boston's subways could become overwhelmed by widespread congestion by the end of the decade without investment in more subway cars, better power and signal systems, reports Eric Moskowitz.

Already burdened by the highest debt obligations of any transit agency in the nation, the MBTA got news this week is likely didn't want to hear. "Surging T [subway] ridership and booming construction around transit stations, the study from the Urban Land Institute found, are poised to overwhelm the MBTA, potentially limiting future development and slowing the regional economy," warns Moskowitz.

"Congestion relief has long been a priority for highway spending; it is past time to recognize that addressing congestion is equally important for the transit system,'' wrote lead author Stephanie Pollack, associate director of Northeastern University's Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

Accompanied by a companion report from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council that analyzed the development potential around every rapid transit and commuter rail station, "The reports are meant to reframe the debate over whether to spend scarce infrastructure dollars extending the T to new communities or repairing the aging system."

"The MBTA has a repair and replacement backlog exceeding $3 billion that grows faster than it can afford to cross old problems off the list."

Full Story: Surging MBTA ridership could overwhelm system, report warns



Irvin Dawid's picture

Disappointing take on MBTA

For a much better read - or listen via audio, check out Living On Earth's "The Trouble With Mass Transit". LOE's
Bruce Gellerman interviews Brian Kane, a mass transit policy expert. Also interviewed is Stephanie Pollack, Associate Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, who is the lead author of the ULI report discussed above - and that's about all the two articles have in common.

It's quite clear that MBTA is a fiscal disaster - that's the substance of LOE. Every fare goes just to pay debt service - not operations. MBTA's problem is not primarily about upcoming congestion. And the Big Dig was a huge contributor to the mess MBTA finds itself in.

LOE: "In exchange for getting money from the state’s sales tax, the T inherited three point three billion dollars in Big Dig debt. Delayed by a decade and plagued by design flaws, the price tag for the highway project tripled." Dan McNichol, author of the book "The Big Dig" is interviewed.....

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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