Gov. Charlie Baker announced a five-year, $82.7 million winter resiliency plan for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority following a brutal winter that paralyzed parts of Greater Boston's transit system.
"We can't afford to have another winter like the last one with regard to the way we respond as a commonwealth," Baker said at a news conference Thursday.
The board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which oversees the MBTA, will vote on the plan the week of June 8.
The plan includes the purchase of snow-removal and anti-icing equipment, spending on infrastructure upgrades and operations during harsh weather. Third rail replacements and heater upgrades on vulnerable outdoor sections of the Red and Orange subway lines, where service often stalled while Boston sustained a record 109 inches of snow.
Pioneer Institute research director Gregory Sullivan reported last winter that the MBTA's $6.2 billion capital plan for 2015-2019 included merely $2.8 million, or 1/20th of 1%, for snow-fighting equipment.
Baker said Thursday that funding will involve $62 million in federal formula funds for capital investments, $10 million in non-federal MBTA capital funds, and $11.7 million in operating funds. Incident management software, among other measures, will provide performance metrics, which a special committee appointed by Baker said has been traditionally lacking in MBTA operations.
According to Baker, state officials based the resiliency plan on recommendations by an American Public Transportation Association peer review of the MBTA's winter operations in April, while a special panel appointed by Baker reviewed and made recommendations to fix the MBTA's deeper structural, financial and operational problems.
"I'm very enthused about it," said Alan Rubin, a managing director at Tigress Financial Partners in New York. "They're using metrics based on science and risk management. The metrics are in your face. And this shows it doesn't have to be a $300 million or $400 million initiative. This is closer to the $90 million number."
While working in Lehman Brothers' investment banking division in the early 1990s, Rubin helped design and underwrite the catastrophe fund after Hurricane Andrew caused more than $30 billion in damage in Miami-Dade County, Fla.
According to Rubin, the mix of federal, agency capital and agency operating funds is right for the MBTA project.
"The U.S. DOT would like to see some skin in the game at the state and local level. Sweat equity, if you will," he said.
Baker implored the Massachusetts legislature to pass his bill to put the MBTA under Baker is calling for a fiscal oversight board for three to five years. His bill would enhance privatization efforts and fortify management in labor talks.