Blogroll

It seems MBTA officials were listening to this March segment of Bloomberg Radio’s Bay State Business. During the program, I was discussing simple ways to increase MBTA revenue without imposing an across-the-board fare hike. Raising fares may make sense in some scenarios, but where there is excess capacity, increasing ridership is a far more effective...
No one said it better than Justice Louis Brandeis. “Sunshine is said to be the best of disinfectants, electric light the most efficient policeman.”  If today’s story on former State Senator Brian Joyce, indicted today for allegedly collecting about $1 million in bribes and kickbacks, isn’t a wake-up call for the legislators to fix the...
Public trust and citizen engagement is fundamental in a healthy government.  Transparency engenders both. The Massachusetts legislature is one of the minority of state legislatures in the country where open meeting law doesn’t apply.  In fact, according to a 2011 study by the Reporters’ Committee of Freedom of the Press, it’s one of only 19...
There's no such thing as a free ride. Ask any accountant and he or she will tell you that there’s always a cost involved. Some businesses give free samples to market their products - a cost to grow revenue.  Others give their products or services away because of inadequate controls. The MBTA falls into the...
Recently, we wrote about the redemption of Secretary of State William Galvin after a records request for communications between his office and the Office of the Attorney General revealed the frustrating brush-offs he had received from the previous two AGs. Shortly thereafter, we received a response to an identical request we had made to the...
As we've written about before, in Massachusetts your legal right to transparency at times comes with a fairly hefty premium. Agencies routinely use exorbitant fee estimates as a way to get out of having to fulfill “burdensome” (read: embarrassing) requests, and no agency has been more consistently blatant about the practice than the MBTA. Whether...
Background Over the past two months, Pioneer Institute has focused substantial resources on analyzing the MBTA’s operations, finances, pension system and governance (leadership and accountability).  A key piece of our work has included comparisons of the Authority to other American transit systems.  We have provided comparisons to all systems, but have focused on like or...
Pension and other post-employment benefit (OPEB) costs significantly impact the MBTA's financial position.  There's been much talk about the T's retirement costs but relatively little about how those costs and their funding rank among other large transit systems.  The MBTA has not set assets aside to fund OPEB obligations and is underfunding its pension costs....
Your toes are numb, the faces around you sullen and the service alert on your phone says the next train will arrive at a different time than the LED screen overhead.  The train you planned on taking to work broke down and was cancelled.  You’d warm up at the local diner if you knew the...
by Guest Blogger Rohit Chaparala Pioneer’s newest transparency tool, MassPensions.com reveals a pressing need for reform in Lawrence’s public pension system. Launched earlier this month, the site allows Massachusetts residents to view details of public pension plans throughout the state, providing access to performance indicators including a plan’s financial condition, investment performance, and asset allocation. ...