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What does the future hold for the T rider?

After landing at Logan Airport in the year 2020, a businessman boards a 100 percent electric-run Silver Line bus by merely tapping his smartphone.

After landing at Logan Airport in the year 2020, a businessman boards a 100 percent electric-run Silver Line bus by merely tapping his smartphone. His phone can also buy coffee on platforms, pay for airport parking and Mass Pike tolls.

“By the year 2020, cell phones will act like CharlieCards,” MBTA General Manager Rich Davey said during a wide-ranging interview about the T’s future. “We’re really trying to make the customer's wallet thinner so you don't have to use a multitude of cards.”

The T will also produce much of its energy from wind turbines as the MBTA’s footprint could extend to Springfield, Connecticut and Maine.

While the vision is exciting, the T’s latest Capital Investment Program report released this month paints a gloomy picture of a crumbling system that could be in dire straights by 2016, let alone 2020.

“There are critical track repairs that are required and are underfunded,” Paul Regan of the MBTA Advisory Board said. “The entire Orange Line needs a new third rail.”

There’s another catch: Monthly CharlieCards could cost $103 a month. The T recently avoided a 19 percent fare hike, but riders were hit with two 25 percent jumps before that.

“In 10 years there could be three more 25 percent fare hikes,” Regan said. “And that doesn’t even solve the problem.”

But Regan still dreams of a modern, dependable system “you’d be crazy not to take.”

He sees a day in the near future when the businessman who tapped his cell phone at Logan can also plug his electric car into a port at an MBTA garage.

“That’s coming,” Davey said.

By 2020 ...

» Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford should be complete.
» Stations will have LED countdown clocks telling when the next train arrives.
» All underground stations will have cell phone and Wi-Fi service.
» New South Station should be complete.
» South Coast rail project providing commuter service to New Bedford should be complete.
» Swiping CharlieCards is a memory. All subways and buses will read chips built into cell phones.
» Video screens in Red and Orange Line cars will give alerts, weather, news and display ads.
» Real-time arrival time apps for Green Line will be available like they are currently for all other subways and buses.

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