Price for Repairing Boston's Transit System: $10 Billion

A new estimate of how much it will cost to repair all of the infrastructure in the MBTA system places the price tag $3 billion higher than an estimate made only four years ago.
May 15, 2019, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The cost to fix or replace the MBTA’s aging equipment and upgrade to new, modern infrastructure is now valued at a cool $10 billion," reports Adam Vaccaro.

The newest figure is also " a dramatic jump from the already eye-popping estimate cited just four years ago," when the MBTA estimated the cost to repair the system's many capital assets at $7.3 billion. The figure includes the costs of maintaining and repairing "nearly all things transit," including "trains and buses, tracks and power systems, culverts and tunnels and bridges, and more," according to Vaccaro.

Much of the article, and the public relations messaging that has surrounded the announcement, is devoted to explaining the discrepancy between the 2015 figure and the 2019 figure:

The reason for the difference is that the latest review took a more in-depth look at various pieces of infrastructure, based on new federal standards. Also, it included costs that the prior number didn’t — such as the price of designing projects, upgrading infrastructure to include modern technology, and paying for bus diversions during major track work.

MBTA officials are also pointing out the improvements that have already been made, such as with the deployment of new buses in the system. "For example, a few years ago nearly three-quarters of the T’s vehicles were considered too old under federal standards. That number has since been reduced to 32 percent as hundreds of new buses have entered the system," writes Vaccaro.

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Published on Monday, May 13, 2019 in The Boston Globe
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