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A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money

The Globe reports the state now thinks it would take $10 billion to bring the T into a state of "good repair" - up a few billion from the estimate four years ago.

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This is as of today.

With inflation and rising costs (thanks idiot), this number will expand greatly, Add some cost overruns (because we can't have any project in Boston without one), it would ballon to at least 15b, if not more.

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They can occur for a variety of perfectly legit reasons. It's amazing Boston has extensive subway tunneling and large skysrapers at all considering the topography and geographical challenges. Especially true120 years ago when the first subway opened. A good chunk of the financial district, downtown waterfront, Back Bay, is man-made landfill land. Not to mention the sewer system. Even Logan Airport is 3000 acres of mostly landfill. It's also an old almost 400 year old town and very built up.

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Poftak is clearly focused on the system's existing infrastructure, potential overruns, and slated inflation. Pollack is clearly focused on her CLF expansion projects - both SCR and GLX.

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Take any initial estimate of infrastructure and triple it.

Let's go fix the T, then move all the debt over to the state highway commission so they can be paralyzed by loan service payments for the next twenty years. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right Charlie?

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The MBTA should just buy some company out there, like Payless, and load it up with debt, use that money to fix the T and then spin off the company with the debt load to go bankrupt. You could probably get Mitt Romney to handle it all.

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That isn't at all what or how the Big Dig Debt worked. The "Big Dig" debt that was transferred to the MBTA was the cost of the legally mandated transportation improvements for environmental remediation - things like the GLX, old colony line restoration, expanding the blue line to 6 cars, etc. Instead of funding them out of the Big Dig's budget/books, the cost of the projects were put on the MBTA's books. It was not any of the actual costs of the road or road construction.

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New GM, new guesstimate.

'cause that number will double (at least) by the time Dear Tangerine Leader is done with all of this #WINNING

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What do we want? Chinese MBTA cars!
When do we want them? Fifteen years ago!

Nice shiny new cars won't be worth a damn if the signalling system isn't overhauled.

Strange how that happens when you slash funding for preventative maintenance!

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The latest GLX Globe article shows the rail project is a poorly planned debacle. A thin bike path is a slap in the face to the community. If Baker wanted to, he could cut the GLX and make the cleared path into a Grand Minuteman Bikeway extension. The GLX work to date has been sound walls, path clearance, and faulty bridge removal. Under the new circumstances, MassDOT could drop in pre-made bridge spans and open up Somerville's Broadway next month. The path clearance becomes the bikeway. The much appreciated sound walls remain for commuter rail, freight, and Amtrak train noise in the corridor. A Grand Minuteman Bikeway from Boston to Concord would be a major travel destination. Even better than the Promenade Plantee in Paris or the High Line in NYC. But most importantly, the state and feds will save billions, and that money can go into the existing system.

But honey, the state’s portion of the GLX is less than the amount of the estimated backlog, and that doesn’t even take into account the money already spent on the project.

I think you just have to resign yourself to the fact that the Green Line is coming to Somerville.

the original plan had a parallel bike path that was cut to save $$.

Which would aid the residents of the area and spur development more- a trolley line or a bike path? Nothing against bike paths, but the GLX would do a lot more for the area.

There can't be a bike path without the GLX. It needs the right of way created by the tracks, just like the southwest corridor and the Neponset River Trail.

the GLX troll's point, which is that they should give up on the GLX and instead pave it over and turn it into a bike path. Ideally, we'd get both, and I believe the ROW is being set aside for it to be built in the future. Again, nothing against bikes or bike paths (or as I call them, running paths), but I'd say the GLX would be more helpful.

Without the Green Line Extension, there is no possibility of having a bike path. You need the right of way to cut through the neighborhood. So if the GLX fails, there will be no off street path possible.

And in fact, I noticed (since last posting on this) that the path has been restored, so there isn't even a conflict between the two.

So in short, the GLX troll just doesn't want the GLX built, as is his shtick, being the GLX troll.

the original plan had a parallel bike path that was cut to save $$.

The High Line was super expensive to build. About 200 million per mile. Yes, its not close to the monster 600 million per mile for the GLX light rail, but its much higher than your typical 1 million per mile greenway. How 'bout the Mt. Vernon trail in the DC metro? That's a better example.

You were later than normal agreeing with Frick.

If the GLX follows the time honored MBTA tradition of runningous-out-of-moneyous, its something to keep in the back pocket. Thanos snapped away the forest, the Avengers (Poftak?) can snap it back.

This calls for a Charlie Baker-picked Blue Ribbon Panel to discuss the feasibility of implementing a long-term committee to iron out details of what kind of council can be formed to prepare a study of future trends and analyze the need to establish a board to deal with this

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But i cant remember another Gov. actually trying to address the MBTA and its issues.

But then again im not as old as dirt!

All those shiny new Orange Line cars (and half the new Red Line cars) that will make Baker look so good when they're finally in service were actually ordered by the Patrick administration (which also tried to increase the gas tax to help better fund the T, but voters decided that nah, they're good).

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But not much was done to help the underlying infrastructure issues by Patrick. Or Romney. Or anyone since forward funding was instituted (and yes, I do know whose brainchild that was.)

Also, the gas tax was increased. The voters didn't repeal the increase.

I believe Adam is referring to the bone-headed decision to repeal gas-tax indexing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_Automatic_Gas_Tax_Increase_R...). Almost all other taxes are indexed, but nooooo, we couldn't do that with the gas tax.

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Sales tax is bases on a percentage of the sale price, as is meals tax. The various sundry fees charged people for tourist related things (think car rentals) are set amounts, as is the tax in alcoholic beverages. Remember when the General Court voted to extend sales tax to alcohol. That was also a case of the voters repealing a tax. Now, that was literally repealing the tax. For the gas tax, the voters just repealed the indexing. Beacon Hill still could up the gas tax, or even try to extend the sales tax to cover fuel, but remember what happened when they did that with alcohol.

Even in your own example of the sales tax/meals tax being a percentage of the cost of the item purchased inherently indexes it to inflation, just like the income tax.

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If items in the CPI basket don't rise in cost as much as others, the amount taxed through the sales tax also doesn't rise. The tax on a $499 iPad in 2012 is the same as the tax on a $499 iPad today. The state has not moved to raise the tax based on how much overall inflation has gone up. The only time the tax goes up is when the cost of the particular item goes up.

That fuel is not subject to the sales tax is not the issue. The reality was when the gas tax was last raised that the cost of the tax, in terms of overall cost of fuel, had gone down. Whether oil is $40 a barrel or $150 a barrel, the tax was the same.

A tax that is a percentage rather than a dollar amount is indexed to price of the underlying item.

Sales tax
Income tax
Property tax

But not our precious gas!

/edit/
You make a good point in using the word "fee." We should consider fixed values to be fees, and taxes should be indexed percentages.

I'm not sure why a fixed fee is better in the gas realm. We don't expect the legislature to spend its time constantly revisiting fees to make sure they are keeping up with inflation in other revenue-generating areas.

For what it's worth, most tourism related revenue is generated through taxes, not fees. Meals tax (%), hotel tax (%), etc. See https://www.mass.gov/service-details/room-occupancy-excise-tax

I hazard to say that what I pay in property tax bears little relation to what I paid for my property.

But I am dying to see how people felt about the time sales tax was applied to alcohol, whose taxation is very similar to how fuel is taxed.

From other posts, I know you are smarter than this.

Property tax is a % tax and the "price" that is taxed is the city's valuation, not what you paid for your property (as you well know). The valuation is not market price, but it is linked to market price in that more valuable properties have higher valuations than less valuable properties. So you may hazard to say whatever you want, but it's irrelevant.

I don't know why you keep comparing gas and alcohol. Alcohol is/was subject to a $/gal excise fee (similar to alcohol!) Voters did not want the state sales tax layered on top of an existing fee. The gas tax referendum was about taking an existing tax and indexing it. Different birds.

As you put it-

Alcohol is/was subject to a $/gal excise fee (similar to alcohol!)

There's a [sic] in there somewhere, and nobody is perfect, but I got your gist. In short, gas and alcohol are taxed the same way.

Similarly, the voters were uneasy with indexing. Hence, that part of the gas tax increase was voted out.

The state gave them literally like $1billion extra a year over a 15 year period. Hardly a dollar went to capital and equipment until a few years ago. They plowed it all back into salaries and bennies until the system was literally collapsing. Only then did they order new cars etc. And they still have done little for the rest of the infrastructure.

And stick with me here...

Maybe they needed 2 billion to cover both increased employee cost and system upkeep but only got 1 billion because it was "extra" since they have the dumbest funding mechanism in the world (percentage of sales tax). And you can't spend a portion of the 1 billion you got on upkeep if there aren't any employees to do the work because you stopped paying them or removed their benefits.

Maybe...I don't know...but I'm guessing they weren't paying employees who laughed their way to the bank while the system collapsed around them as you seem to infer.

If you believe pay and benefits needed to double ftom about 2001 to 2014, you'd be right. Most would probably argue that COL raises would have run about 1/3 of that, pensions were and remain too generous and health benefits are much better than the private sector. There were also studies /reporting showing that MBTA wages for many comparable positions paid significantly more than State of Mass jobs.

Other than that, you could be right.

No question that bloated employee benefits and pensions added to this huge backlog.

But it's also important to note that operating costs were through the roof. The cost of fuel nearly tripled during this time and the T was losing money every year because operating costs far outpaced the contributions from the sales tax and the state (because the system set up to fund the t was absurd). This continued for a number of years with the fuel costs essentially rising every year.

Around this same time you had a huge fight between union leadership about their collectively bargained contracts and government leadership looking at the rising costs of pensions and benefits and trying to get those costs under control while union leadership tried to retain the current package for its members. This was happening all over the state from teachers unions to the carmen to police and fire.

As the economy was collapsing no one wanted to compromise, costs were rising, and system fell further into disrepair. That's the reality. This was a disaster in the making since forward funding. It was a house of cards.

Its not surprising it collapsed, but its more than just the unions fault, lots of players are to blame for this one.

An order that Patrick placed at the very end of his eight years in office, when it should have been his first MBTA priority from day one over GLX or New Bedford/Fall River commuter rail.

This is not true, at least your use of the word “all.” The initial order to replace all of the Orange Line cars and 132 of the Red Line cars was made when Patrick was governor. But the expansion of the order to replace the entire Red Line fleet happened in 2016, during Baker’s first term.

I hope those “shiny new cars” are nothing like those new buses they recently acquired. I am on one now, and even the tiniest bump on the road rattles me to the core.

Baker's the guy who, when he was head of Administration and Finance, shifted billions of Big Dig debt onto the MBTA, impoverishing the agency.

http://archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/06/13/b...

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For accuracy, you should mention that the T debt is for the Big Dig transit mitigation projects: the Silver Line and Greenbush Commuter Rail.

Part of the Big Dig project. Thanks for clarifying.

Baker screwed this up, he should fix it.

10 Billion is good price for the infrastructure we need. The question is can we trust the government to spend it well.

Not being rude, I'm just trying to figure out how you may not remember Deval Patrick.

with a (D) next to their name. Dukakis RODE the T to work every day, and that we're even getting any new trains at all in the coming years is thanks to Patrick. You might not remember because for some reason or anther we've been electing Republicans left and right for 30 years. Its worked out SOOOO well too.

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Of course some of these costs include the new Red and Orange line cars already in the works - they show as open budget items as they haven't been delivered yet.

But the time to strike is now - the economy is booming and we have business leaders in the city who are clamoring for this to be fixed. Couple this with priority bus lanes and we might get somewhere with our traffic issues.

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More like last call at the public trough for private enterprise before a global recession wipes out American households bank accounts.

You thought the 16 trillion we lost during W's Great Recession was bad? Just wait until the subprime auto loan meltdown happens.

#WINNING

The subprime auto loan can go to hell in a handbasket next week and almost nobody would give a damn.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-02-20/subprime-auto-loan....

FTA: "Only about 10 percent of the $437 billion of low-rated loans have been turned into ABS [asset-backed securities-ed] , according to Wells Fargo. By contrast, at its peak in 2007, the amount of total subprime mortgage debt was about $1.3 trillion. As far as risks go, auto ABS look paltry in terms of size."

The finance companies that hold that paper will be chasing down GPS (and auto shut off) enabled cars to recover their assets. Good luck, but hey, it ain't our money.

My advice to you? Buy gold. Bury it in the ground.

What do you expect, with all the expansionist plans with Taj Mahal options. Fix what you got before you even listen to new service ideas. Maybe a one time state tax surcharge directed at transportation needs, if it could be controlled righteously, everybody gets to pitch in.

Keep up the good work.