(State House News Service) --The MBTA, which shoulders significant debt from past borrowing efforts, spent just over half of the amount budgeted for capital projects in 2014, contributing to "chronic underinvestment" and a backlog of unaddressed maintenance needs, a task force studying the agency has concluded.
The Baker administration, which formed the task force, released the latest bit of information from its work on Tuesday after disclosing on Monday that task force members have raised excessive employee absenteeism, rising costs, and revenue concerns as challenges facing the T, which suffered from service failures this winter.
Rehashing recently reported news, the task force found that in 2014, $631 million of the $1.3 billion that the T had budgeted for capital projects was actually spent. Since 2009, the MBTA has only spent 53 percent of its planned capital budget.
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A one-page summary of task force findings concluded in part that the MBTA "will ultimately need additional state funding for capital spending." The summary does not explain why the T did not move ahead with planned capital spending, but mentioned the longstanding practice at the T of paying for employee salaries with borrowed money.
Asked to comment, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email, "The MBTA will defer to the Governor's press staff."
During an appearance on Boston Herald Radio, Senate President Stan Rosenberg said Tuesday that he wanted to be careful not to draw conclusions about the report on MBTA capital spending. He said he wanted to understand why the T would not make investments in capital improvements "if they had a way to pay for the bonds."
Rosenberg also said a task force finding that the average MBTA employee misses 57 days of work a year was "really not fair" since that average included days away from work for vacation and for family leave allowances.
MBTA management should address instances of high absenteeism in connection with overuse of sick time, he said. Full task force report details are scheduled for release later this week.