Friday, October 10, 2008

For Sale: $350 million in Bonds Owned by the MBTA

Today's The Boston Globe reports that next week the MBTA is going to try to sell $350 million in bonds to help pay off short-term debt and fund its capital program. If the T can sell the bonds on the credit market, they plan to allocate the money as follows:
  • $202 million would fund the MBTA's capital program.
  • $100 million would let the T pay off their short-term paper debts.
  • $37 million would be deposited into the account the T uses to pay down its debt.
  • Anything left over would cover the cost of issuing the the bonds.
Overall, the T has $8 billion in debt.

Yesterday's Boston Metro reported that state and national transportation officials met in Boston on Wednesday to discuss the challenges facing federally funded transportation programs. A six-year federal transportation bill is up for re-authorization in 2009, but US Rep Michael Capuano said the House and Senate may not even get to this next year.

The T's Green Line extension and Urban Ring projects are both slated to receive federal funding.

Overall, the state's current transportation structure could cost $19 billion to maintain, which doesn't account for any new projects.

Even though the T has incurred a great deal of debt, today's Boston Metro reports that the transit authority is planning on building out the pilot WiFi program throughout the commuter rail line. Today, the T's Board of Directors will be asked to authorize $1.39 million to equip 258 train coaches with WiFI. This would include upgrading equipment on 50 Worcester line cars. If approved, this project will begin in December and the plan is to upgrade 30 coaches a month.

Call me crazy, but if the T is running out of money shouldn't the use whatever money they have to improve the on-time performance of their trains? Does the T ever listen to commuter feedback? Train Stopping has received a lot of comments this week from Worcester line riders who are frustrated with the "new" schedules. For commuters who's trips originates in Worcester through Ashland, they would like to see more express trains. For commuters who ride in from Framingham and points East, they would like to see express trains remain that originate in Framigham. And riders who do the "reverse" commute would like to see other options. Sure, some more trains were added, but in the scheme of things the schedule was just shuffled around. The Worcester-Framingham riders continue to be frustrated by their how much longer their trips take today compared to 2 or 3 years ago.

Finally, WickedLocal Hingham reports that the T's plans to cut the commuter boat service are currently on hold.

1 comment:

Hal said...

I believe you've been told several times before that you just can't add trains whenever and wherever you want. There are additional considerations that you don't seem to recognize, such as the availability of trains and track for them to run on.