T notes: Feds ride to rescue of T

Dedicated bus lanes set for run to Lechmere

THE MBTA IS FACING a $231 million deficit for the fiscal year that ends June 30, but an influx of federal aid will wipe the slate clean and leave plenty left over for the coming fiscal year.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the T has been losing more and more money. Ridership under Gov. Charlie Baker’s social distancing restrictions has fallen off a cliff, cutting fare revenues by nearly $197 million. Revenues from advertising, parking, and real estate are off about $17 million. The state sales tax is also taking a hit, which is likely to cut T revenues by at least $14 million.

The federal CARES Act, with an estimated $840 million in grants for the MBTA, will eliminate the deficit this year and leave about $609 million available for next year.

“It’s really very flexible money,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack at a virtual meeting of the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday.

The state’s regional transit authorities are also getting a big infusion of federal cash, but a chart showing the breakdown of funds was too small to read on the video slide presentation.

Dedicated bus lane to Lechmere to start May 25

The MBTA plans to launch replacement bus service on dedicated lanes while the Science Park and Lechmere Green Line stations are shut down.

John Dalton, who is overseeing the Green Line extension project, said the shuttle buses should save riders a total of 15 minutes on a roundtrip ride during the weekday peak. He said the bus service will meet or exceed existing Green Line service.

That section of the Green Line is being shut down to repair the viaduct across from the Science Museum and build new track to a new Lechmere Station. The existing five-lane road in front of the Science Museum will be converted to three lanes for cars, dedicated lanes for buses running in each direction, and special bicycle lanes.

T capital spending to hit $1.5b this fiscal year

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak received praise on Monday for boosting capital spending to $1.5 billion this fiscal year, putting to bed the often-repeated claim that the T cannot spend the capital funds it is given.

Joe Aiello, the chair of the Fiscal and Management Control Board, said the T is on its way to spending $1.8 billion to $1.9 billion a year, where it needs to be to get the system back on track. “It’s quite a remarkable journey,” he said.