The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority released its five-year capital spending plan Thursday, the first such blueprint since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The transit agency unveiled plans to spend $9.4 billion through fiscal year 2027 on 552 projects, including $579 million for new Red and Orange Line vehicles, $493.5 million for South Coast Rail, a commuter rail line that would provide service to Boston from Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River, $420.1 million for a new fare collection system, and $357.7 million on the Green Line extension.
The plan relies on federal funding from the $1 trillion infrastructure law over the next five years, which the MBTA estimates will be about $580 million, but does not include funding made available through the law that the MBTA will have to compete for with other transit agencies.
“I expect and hope that we will revise this as the year goes on when those grants are actually achieved,” said MBTA board chair Betsy Taylor.
Other long-awaited investments included in the spending plan are $168.4 million for a train collision prevention system on the Green Line, $326.6 million for a new Quincy bus garage, and $100.8 million for 80 battery electric buses. The plan puts $14.9 million toward design and planning for a connection between the Red Line at Charles/MGH station and Blue Line at Bowdoin Station, and $311.2 million toward new Green Line vehicles.
Transportation advocates say the plan falls short of what is needed to keep the transit system running safely as the effects of climate change worsen and improve service enough to coax drivers away from their cars.
Last year, the MBTA reported that it needed about $13.7 billion for major capital projects from fiscal year 2023 to fiscal year 2027 to keep the system in good repair.
“If we are serious about reducing carbon emissions from transportation, then we can’t afford to make piecemeal investments, we need to be thinking big and transformative,” said Josh Ostroff, interim director of Transportation for Massachusetts.
Ostroff, Transit Matters executive director Jarred Johnson, and A Better City president Rick Dimino want to see a substantial investment in commuter rail electrification and expanded transit service.
“This is not a capital investment plan that is forward-looking enough, that is going to drive mode shift and help us into the future,” Johnson said.
“Hopefully, when it gets finalized we’ll see more investments on reducing emissions, protecting our assets from climate impacts, and projects that will support and drive the future of our regional and statewide economy,” Dimino said.
The public can offer comments on the spending plan until April 25.
Also Thursday, the MBTA board of directors unanimously approved fare changes meant to simplify how much rides cost and attract more people to the transit system.
Starting July 1, the cost of a one-day pass will drop from $12.75 to $11, the MBTA will allow for two bus or subway transfers for the price of one trip, and add new seven-day and monthly unlimited passes for riders who qualify for reduced fares. The MBTA’s five-day flex pass for commuter rail will be made permanent immediately.
Missing from the fare changes is a reduced fare for adults with low incomes, a top priority of transit advocates that the MBTA’s previous oversight board had supported.