MBTA says it needs $24.5 billion to repair transit system

It is a staggering number fit to fix the multitude of issues the MBTA admits need to be fixed system wide. On Thursday, the agency publicized the findings of its Capital Needs Assessment and Inventory. It's a audit of sorts that happens every three to four years. It makes clear what assets the MBTA has and what investments need to be made to bring the system to a State of Good Repair. The estimated price tag of $24.5 billion is for repairs to stations, trains, tracks, bus garages, signal systems, and more. 

To be clear, this is an estimated cost of repairs not improvements. 

"If they spend all that money, it better be worth because it's a lot of money," said Revere resident Danilo Restrepo.

According to the CNAI report, MBTA facilities require the most attention with $6.4 billion needed. Another $5.3 billion is needed to fix structures and another $2.4 billion would be used on trains.

Stacy Thompson is with the transportation advocacy group LivableStreets Alliance. Thompson said she views this assessment as a step toward transparency. Something many have criticized the Baker administration for lacking when it comes to the workings of the MBTA. 

"Really for the first time in a decade, we have a sense of where we are at with the state of good repair, what needs to be fixed and how much it will cost," said Thompson. "It's a lot of work but we finally have a starting point."

The MBTA last did this assessment in 2019 and found that $10 billion worth of repairs needed to be made. The number jumped by $14.5 billion for this latest assessment. The MBTA said part of the reason came done to having a clearer understanding of the agency's assets, inflation and construction costs, and an aging system that gets more complicated to fix by the day. The MBTA said much of its equipment is at least 50 years old.

"Restoring reliability and ensuring safety are priorities as we rebuild MBTA infrastructure. Understanding and acknowledging the significant resources needed to bring our system to a State of Good Repair is just one step towards fixing our infrastructure to deliver more robust and frequent service," new MBTA GM and CEO Phillip Eng said in a statement. "The MBTA is one of the oldest transit agencies in the country, and while there are a number of contributing factors, it's clear that years of underinvestment have added to the cost of bringing our system back to a state of good repair."

Eng said Thursday there are no plans right now to raise fares for riders.  

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey released a statement about the report.

"The Capital Needs Assessment and Inventory shows what we have known for a long time - there is an urgent need for significant resources and work across the MBTA system because of decades of underinvestment," Healey said. "The Healey-Driscoll Administration is committed to ensuring that the MBTA has the resources it needs to deliver the safe, reliable service that the people of Massachusetts deserve."