T trying to speed up Green Line trains

Also: Marathon ticket sales, strategic plan

THE MBTA IS WORKING ON WAYS to speed up service on the Green Line by coordinating traffic lights, consolidating stops, and using technology to prevent bottlenecks.

T officials estimate they can shave roughly a minute off a trip on the B Line by coordinating traffic lights with the city of Boston so trains approaching surface intersections can sail on through and by dropping two close-together stops on Commonwealth Avenue near the intersection with St. Paul Street.

The T is also testing software on the D Line that will allow dispatchers to adjust train departures to avoid bunching. During a pilot, the variability between train arrivals at stations along the line decreased by 42 percent. The software is being developed at MIT.

The traffic signal work is expected to be completed this year, while the station consolidations and the new software easing congestion will be ready in 2019.

Officials from the Fiscal and Management Control Board indicated they would like to see the projects move along faster. They pressed T staff to come up with a more aggressive timetable for completion on the entire Green Line.

946 all-day tickets sold

The MBTA said it sold 946 special all-day tickets that allowed passengers unlimited trips on the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line on the day of the Boston Marathon. The tickets, which allowed passengers to get on and off at various spots near the race route, were priced at $20 apiece.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack called the new tickets a big success and said the T will take what it learned from the Boston Marathon experiment and apply that knowledge to special pricing for tickets when the tall ships of Sail Boston come to town for six days starting June 17.

Strategic plan approved

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a strategic plan on Monday that calls for eliminating the agency’s state-of-good-repair backlog in 15 years and boosting own-source revenues to $100 million by fiscal year 2021.

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.

According to the plan, the MBTA has more than $23.8 billion of physical assets, with nearly one-third of them not in a state of good repair. The strategic plan calls for bringing all of the assets into a state of good repair over the next 15 years at a cost probably well in excess of $8 billion.

To achieve that goal, the T says it must step up capital expenditures, with a goal of reaching a minimum of $1 billion a year in annual spending sometime in the next four years. The T in the past has lacked the management bandwidth to handle that kind of capital output. Between 2011 and 2015, the T planned $5.1 billion in capital spending but managed to spend only $2.7 billion.

The T had hoped to balance the fiscal 2018 budget without touching any of a $187 million legislative appropriation, but backed off that plan on April 13 amid public opposition to a number of savings initiatives. The strategic plan sets no firm date for balancing the budget without touching the legislative appropriation, but says the T must continue to be more efficient and boost revenues from advertising and real estate to $100 million by fiscal year 2021. The T set a target of $74 million for own-source revenues in fiscal 2018.