Since only some of the projects, including repairs, new garages, and new rail cars, will be funded through a combination of federal grants and heavy borrowing, the T's debt will grow by $1.33 billion over the next five years to cover the costs of the rest of the capital improvement plan.
Transit advocates and the T's management both feel that the T needs to incur this debt or the T risks losing riders due to unreliable service.
"Most of it, you would refer to it as needed improvements," said Eric Bourassa, a transportation policy analyst for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group. "If you don't fix these things or do these things, it's going to break. And the system's not going to work."
The new plan also included new ridership figures, the first time the T has provided since raising fares in January 2007.
Despite the hike, the T did not lose riders last year. Daily ridership on buses, trains, ferries, and subways went from 1,118,071 trips in 2006 to 1,241,631 trips last year.