The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority intends to present its fiscal oversight board Wednesday a $2 billion fiscal 2017 budget that reduces its structural deficit from $242 million to $80 million.
The “T,” as locals call Greater Boston’s mass transit system, cited cost containment and increases in “own source” revenue, primarily advertising, for the smaller deficit.
The budget also assumes the transfer of $100 million pay-as-you-go capital and maintenance initiatives into the nascent fiscal 2016-17 capital maintenance improvement fund. Pay-go funds will help upgrade technology that contributes to service delays and complete winter resiliency work on track, rail and signals across the system.
“We are meeting the statutory requirement for a balanced budget but still continue to work to reduce the structural deficit with internal cost controls and higher own-source revenues,” said MBTA chief administrator Brian Shortsleeve.
The T must close the remaining $80 million deficit by the end of fiscal 2017, June 30, to avoid ballooning deficits in fiscal 2018 and beyond.
Gov. Charlie Baker and state lawmakers last year formed the oversight board after a record 110 inches of snow crippled some subway and commuter lines, and exposed flaws in the T’s overall operations.
Despite a critical oversight board report in late September that called its operating budget unsustainable and Standard & Poor’s having lowered its rating on the T’s sales tax bonds to AA-plus from AAA, the MBTA sold the Series 2015 A and B bonds at levels comparable to the commonwealth’s highly rated general obligation bonds.
The MBTA has sold about $10.7 billion of debt since 1965. Its highest issuance was $1.6 billion in 2004.
MBTA staff will report Wednesday that advertising sand other own-source revenue has increased $10 million, while fare revenue is also expected to spike an additional $43 million due to a recently enacted 9.3% fare increase.
In addition to its revenue increases, the T expects $15 million in wage reductions from the implementation of its payroll reduction plan. Overtime costs are also projected to drop 23 percent to $37 million in fiscal 2017, said Shortsleeve, from $49 million under the recast 2016 budget.
To eliminate its remaining $80 million deficit, the MBTA will also pursue flexible contracting, lower vendor costs, high-subsidy overhaul, eliminating late-night service and increasing parking revenues.
“This is not a business-as-usual budget,” said Shortsleeve. “We are going to put the T on a path to getting to balance.”
The budget accounts for a $13 million increase in wages from collective bargaining agreements, and increased pension expenses of $14 million.