T notes: GLT is the next big thing
Patriots parade; productivity push in repair shops
FIRST CAME GLX, and now there’s GLT.
The MBTA each year compiles a capital spending plan for the next five years. The current plan, which runs from fiscal 2019 through fiscal 2023, calls for roughly $8 billion in spending, with the Green Line extension (often dubbed GLX) to Somerville and Medford accounting for roughly $1.2 billion of the total.
The agency is now starting to put together the budget for fiscal 2020 through fiscal 2024, and T officials say it will follow the same broad themes as the previous plan except for the addition of a Green Line Transformation, or GLT, program. The GLT program is similar to the upgrades being made to the Red and Orange lines, with investments in new vehicles, upgrades to infrastructure and facilities, and new technology.
T officials said a large portion of the cost of the GLT program – an estimated $836 million, according to a presentation to the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday – will come from reallocating money set aside but no longer needed for the current capital spending program.
The sources of the roughly $8 billion needed for the fiscal 2020-2024 capital spending plan include the federal government (45 percent), MBTA bonds (29 percent), state funds (15 percent), legislative appropriations (9 percent), and third party reimbursements (2 percent). Despite uncertainty in Washington, MBTA officials expect federal funds to keep flowing at roughly their current rate.
MBTA officials are gearing up for big crowds at Tuesday’s New England Patriots parade, and urging fans to ride public transit and plan ahead. For details on MBTA bus, subway, and commuter rail service on Tuesday, click here.
Productivity push at the MBTA
MBTA officials say they are seeing much greater worker productivity at the agency’s Southampton bus maintenance garage, but it’s unclear how much savings the initiative will generate.
Kat Benesh, the T’s chief of operations strategy, policy & oversight, told the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday that the cost per mile at the garage has fallen from $6.12 in December 2017 to $5.58 in December 2018, a drop of 54 cents, or 9 percent. Benesh said bus fleet and staffing levels have remained stable even as the mileage has increased from roughly 160,000 miles per month to about 200,000 miles per month.Part of the productivity effort is focused on creating standard repair times for most bus work and sticking to them. Benesh said compliance with standard repair times averaged 80 percent in the three-month period from October to December. But she said the mean miles between failure has continued to hover in the 8,000 range, below the goal of 12,500 miles.
The T is counting on $30 million in budget savings in fiscal 2019 from the productivity initiative. Benesh said the T is on track to reach that goal, but it was unclear from her presentation whether the agency would actually cut costs by that amount or merely keep costs from rising. At the Southampton garage, for example, Benesh’s presentation described the “annualized cost avoidance/savings” as somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million.