Anticipated federal cuts could cost MBTA

The MBTA is planning to modernize the Government Center  stop.

If federal funding cuts looming over the T’s head happen in the next 45 days, it would mean a serious disruption in future MBTA services and projects, according to outgoing General Manager Rich Davey.
“It would be a significant blow [to the T],” he said. 

According to a recent report submitted to Davey and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s board of directors, a potential cut of up to 30 percent in Federal Transit funding for fiscal 2012 “is a distinct possibility” and would mean the MBTA could lose up to $68 million in funds for its capital program in this fiscal year alone.  

Davey said if an extension of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users doesn’t happen by Sept. 30, cuts will follow.

“We are watching anxiously with bated breath,” said Davey.

He said certain projects, like plans to modernize the Government Center station and make it fully accessible, receive a portion of federal funding; and massive cuts would be detrimental to service.
“Riders would certainly see a negative impact,” said Davey.

Brian Kane, budget and policy analyst on the MBTA Advisory Board, called the news “outrageous” and said if federal help stops, the Hub will take a huge hit.

“There will be a large gap that will have to be filled, “ he said. “[The MBTA] would have to either do less projects, provide less service or find money somewhere else.”

Kane said cuts would further affect any future capital projects like the Green Line Extension or South Coast Rail.

“This is not good news for the transit-riding public,” said Kane. “The MBTA is being proactive and planning ahead, and I give them credit. But they may have to pull a rabbit out of their hat on this one.”

Not just the T

Both Davey and Kane said the cuts would affect road and highway construction as well. “It’s bad for everybody. You walk out your door and you’re involved,” said Kane. According to the report submitted by the T’s Finance and Capital Budget team, although no final numbers are known, all signs point to a significant reduction in funding for highway programs, too.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear.


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