Folding the $1.6 billion MBTA Retirement Fund into the state system is essential to the very future of the agency that oversees Greater Boston mass transit, said a Pioneer Institute report.

"In the long term, the [Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's] financial problems will not be solved unless and until leaders are willing to confront the growing financial challenges posed by the MBTA Retirement Fund," wrote Gregory Sullivan, a former Massachusetts inspector general who is research director for the Boston-based free-market think tank.

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