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MBTA riders can take a breath ... for now

With the state Senate's approval of a $51 million MBTA bailout this week, riders won't have to worry about more fare hikes.

With the state Senate's approval of a $51 million MBTA bailout this week, riders won't have to worry about more fare hikes and service cuts come July 1, but a bleak budgetary forecast begs the question: What happens next year?

Lawmakers voted 26-9 Tuesday night to approve the short-term financial fix, but not without tense debate about the transit agency's inability to sustain its own finances.

"I can promise that there is going to be a very tough conversation next year. Everybody knows it, and everybody should be prepared for it," state Sen. Gale Candaras said yesterday.

Candaras was one of five senators to push an amendment that would have created a control board to replace the current MBTA board and oversee the agency's management for at least three years.

That amendment did not make it onto the bill, but it did heat up discussion on how to take control of the T's financial woes.

In a statement issued yesterday, MassDOT Secretary Richard A. Davey thanked the legislature for its partnership in closing the MBTA's budget gap for the fiscal year, but acknowledged that a bigger problem is far from solved.

"Quality public transportation is essential to getting people to and from work, expanding economic opportunity and fostering job growth across the Commonwealth," Davey said.

 
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