The New MBTA
The 1970's saw renewed interest in the MBTA. Fuel shortages, energy costs, urban congestion, and concern over air pollution were all responsible for dramatic ridership increases. During the preceding decades, the MBTA had been more of a supplementary or alternative form of transportation for commuters. Suddenly, it became a lifeline for the city; transporting 300,000 passengers daily by the end of the 1970's. These new demands, coupled with rising fuel, labor, material costs, and inflation, were a true test for the MBTA. Changes had to be made. The system had to be strengthened to survive its new role as a lifeline for the Boston area.
In December 1980, following a one-day shutdown due to a lack of funds, the Legislature approved plans to change the governing structure of the MBTA. Under these plans, the Board of Directors, formerly five members appointed by the Governor to serve coterminous with him, was expanded to seven members, still appointed by the Governor and serving coterminous with him. One member is the Secretary of Transportation, who serves as the Chairman of the Board. The two additional members are from outside the MBTA District.
An Advisory Board, consisting of one official or his designee from each of the communities in the MBTA District, reviews the Program for Mass Transportation, which is the T′s long-range planning document. The Advisory Board also reviews the Authority's annual operating budget. In addition, the Advisory Board reviews and provides comments on the Authority′s draft Capital Improvement Plans and fare increases. The cities and towns pay an "assessment" consisting of their proportionate share of the MBTA's net deficit. The state government pays the largest share of the annual deficit. Farebox revenues currently cover about 31% of the Authority's total annual operating expenses.
In terms of daily ridership, the MBTA remains the nation's 5th largest mass transit system. It serves a population of 4,817,014 (2010 census) in 176 cities and towns with an area of 3,249 square miles. To carry out its mission it maintains 183 bus routes, 2 of which are Bus Rapid Transit lines, 3 rapid transit lines, 5 light rail (Central Subway/Green Line) routes, 4 trackless trolley lines and 13 commuter rail routes. Its roster of equipment consists of 1005 diesel and CNG buses, 32 dual mode buses, 28 ETB′s (electric trolley buses), 410 heavy rail vehicles, 200 light rail vehicles, 10 PCC's streetcars, 90 commuter rail locomotives, 410 commuter rail coaches and 464 MBTA-owned specially equipped vans and sedans, and an additional 182 contractor-supplied specially equipped vans and sedans. The average weekday ridership for the entire system is approximately 1.3 million passenger trips.
The MBTA can look back on a tradition of three hundred years of continuous mass transportation services. From the earliest beginnings to the present, the MBTA can be proud of its long tradition of innovation and progress. While claiming to be America's oldest subway, it still remains the vibrant life stream of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts.
History: Table of Contents
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