Public Statement on MBTA Ridership & Pension Costs

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

Monday’s meeting of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board brought bad news on two fronts:  T ridership is down and pension costs are up.  Neither is a new problem, but both will require bold action to fix.

Specifically, ridership was down 2 percent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.  As a result, fare revenue came in more than 3 percent below projections.  In comments on the MBTA’s Draft Strategic Plan, Pioneer called for making increased ridership the document’s organizing principle, because it would result in more revenue, bring environmental benefits, and reduce traffic congestion.  To achieve those goals, the T must view all potential projects through a ridership lens, which means focusing on Red and Orange Line upgrades that will yield dramatic increases in capacity, and resisting those like South Coast Rail and an expansion to Gillette Stadium that will not.

Bold reforms are especially needed when it comes to the MBTA Retirement Fund.  The T (as opposed to its employees) is responsible for at least three quarters of pension costs.  Under the best-case scenario, its contribution to the fund will rise from $74 million in 2015 to $112 million in 2022, a 51 percent increase.  Actual 2022 costs could be as high as $137 million, which would represent an 85 percent rise over seven years.  Despite spiraling employer contributions, unfunded liability has risen from $49 million to over $1 billion in a decade.  To address this crisis, the MBTA should seek a legislative cap on employer contributions to the pension fund, hire an independent actuary and auditor to conduct an independent review of the fund, and seek legislative authorization to transfer T employees to the state pension fund.

About Pioneer
Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Get Updates on Our Transportation Research

Related Posts:

Study Finds Revived Merit Rating Board Taking Steps to Carry Out Statutorily Mandated Duties

The Merit Rating Board’s recent adoption of a regular meeting schedule, and related resolutions, are important steps in light of that Board’s 1976 governing statute.

Pioneer Institute Announces Winner of 29th Annual Better Government Competition

Pioneer Institute is pleased to announce that Los Angeles Country Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)’s program, “Operation Farm Team: Global Transportation Infrastructure Workforce Initiative” is the winner of the 29th annual Better Government Competition. The theme of the 2019 contest was, “Moving People, Moving Goods, Moving Forward,” focusing on innovations that prepare America for the future of transportation.

Study Calls for Easing MBTA Procurement Restrictions and Beefing Up Project Management Capacity

Reforms needed if T is to achieve increased capital spending…

Pioneer Institute Public Statement: A Season for Management Reforms

The MBTA's red and green line derailments this week highlight…

The Mass. Pike is in for some massive disruption. Are we ready?

/
The Boston Globe By Mary Connaughton and Jim Aloisi May…

Mass Pike rebuild shouldn't impact Worcester commuters, but it will

/
This op-ed originally appeared in The Worcester Telegram &…

Three Cheers for the MBTA’s Perq Commuter Benefits Program

Late last year, the MBTA rolled out a promotional campaign to…

MassOpenBooks: A look inside MassPort

/
Every day, thousands of passengers pass through Logan Airport,…

MBTAAnalysis: A look inside the MBTA

/
The MBTA shuttles over a million passengers a day around Greater…

The Metro & the MBTA: Raising Fares May Not Be Enough

/
New York City and Boston are drastically different cities, but…

Whistleblowers Were Proven Right: MBTARF Was Underreporting Its Unfunded Pension Liabilities

In a new brief, Pioneer shows that whistleblowers’ 2015 claim…

Pioneer Institute Public Statement on the MBTA’s Proposal to Increase Fares by 6.3 Percent

While Pioneer Institute opposed the 2016 MBTA fare increases,…

Drop in MBTA Commuter Rail Ridership Continues

/
A recent Boston Globe column by Northeastern University Professor…

MBTA Leak Tracker

/

A Win for Commuters

We are thrilled that the MBTA is moving forward to expand its…

Moving the MBTA Forward

We are pleased that former Pioneer Institute Research Director…