Psst. Hey MBTA, Could You Use $60 Million?

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I had the pleasure of doing Bradley Jay’s radio show on WBZ a few weeks back. We talked about the MBTA, but what really lit up the phone lines was our discussion of potential savings from reform of the T’s Ride paratransit program. Most of the callers were concerned that eligibility reforms would take away their transportation.

But it appears that the MBTA could save a lot of money just by restructuring the service, before even dealing with eligibility issues. The state’s Inspector General has come out with a report that analyzes the Ride alongside other paratransit programs operating within in the state and determined that a key difference in business practices between the Ride and other paratransit providers results in very different costs per trip. The report concludes that the cost gap between the two results in $60 million in excess costs per year for the MBTA (on a program budget of approximately $90 million).

The T has responded noting that they are held to a higher service standard and that their data is more systematic. But tellingly, they also note that they are bound to their current contracts until 2014 and then will be exploring these reforms.

Crossposted at Boston Daily.