The MBTA said today that if we want the entire subway and commuter-rail system to be up to snuff, it'll cost nearly $24.5 billion - yes, with a 'b'. The T emphasizes that doesn't say anything about safety but that that's what would be needed to bring all those trains and buses up to a "state of good repair," you know, tracks that don't crack, pantographs that don't fry, doors that don't fail to work, no more slow zones, trains that are younger than your grandfather, etc., etc., etc.
The tally is up $14.5 billion from the last time the T compiled this sort of list, back in 2019. The T blames/explains - oh, and says the final number might not be quite as bad as it seems, but let's not kid ourselves:
- A more robust, comprehensive, and data-driven inventory approach that significantly increases the total asset count from approximately 59,000 to nearly 83,700. For example, the MBTA’s power asset count significantly increased from 4,959 in the 2019 to 14,514 in 2023 because the previous inventory did not include certain cables, overhead catenary, the South Boston power station, emergency generators, or high voltage yards. A more sophisticated inventory of these assets is now included in the 2023 CNAI;
- Significant infrastructure and construction cost increases driven by inflation and supply chain challenges;
- The continued aging of the MBTA’s assets faster than they are being replaced due to years of underinvestment; and
- The length of time for capital investments to show improvements and be reflected in the CNAI. Many capital projects underway now are in varying planning, design, and construction phases. The rehabilitation or replacement of those assets will be reflected in future iterations of the CNAI and SGR Index. Additionally, the cutoff for data to be included in this year’s CNAI was in 2021 and some major investments since that time were not captured in this iteration of the CNAI.
The T says this is where the money would go, if it had it all at once:
- Facilities: $6.4 billion (35% of assets)
- Rolling Stock: $2.4 billion (55% of assets)
- Equipment: $52 million (28% of assets)
- Structures: $5.3 billion (22% of assets)
- Signals – CR: $1.3 billion (80% of assets)
- Signals – Transit: $753 million (53% of assets)
- Track – CR: $1.2 billion (9% of assets)
- Track – Transit: $2.0 billion (89% of assets)
- Power: $5.1 billion (76% of assets)