Report: MBTA Facing Future Financial Crisis

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsMedia)— The MBTA could face large financial crisis starting in 2023 due to a lack of ridership caused by the COVID pandemic, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

The organization released a report Thursday detailing the financial impacts of the pandemic on the MBTA's operating budget and gave a grim outlook for the future. The report found that despite being awarded $2 billion in federal stimulus funds, the MBTA's operating budget will still be between $200 million and $400 million in the red.

Ridership for the MBTA has been down 75 percent since the start of the COVID pandemic and with many businesses in and around the city still opting for remote work, the MBTA is set to continue to miss out on fare revenue. Commuter rail revenue alone accounted for 36 percent of total fare revenues during the 2019 fiscal year.

These financial issues cast a dark shadow of uncertainty over the future of the MBTA. To make up for gaps in its budget, the MBTA is stuck with what the MTF called a "Hobbesian choice" between either raising fares or undergoing service cuts and layoffs that will "will exacerbate inequities and derail the Greater Boston economy."

The MBTA has been under pressure in recent years to make its fares more affordable, reduce its green house emissions, and protect itself against climate change. The capital budget projection from the MTF found that the MBTA will be short nearly $20 billion from 2023 to 2031 to meet its goals of fixing current infrastructure and climate change initiatives.

The report concluded that shortfalls in both the operating and capital budgets of the MBTA will lead to "a need for approximately $1.25 billion in new, dedicated revenues annually."

WBZ's Jim Mackay has more.

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