New Analysis Shows Flawed Pioneer Institute Study Misrepresented MBTA Maintenance Costs, Wages

Contrary to the conclusions of a report released last month by the pro-privatization Pioneer Institute, the MBTA paid workers about the same and spent less of their budget on worker salaries, when compared to other large bus systems.

These new findings call into question the Pioneer Institute’s white paper, which appears to have cherry-picked data and drawn conclusions based on comparisons with other metropolitan bus agencies that have significantly newer fleets and lower costs of living, among other factors that were not accounted for in the report.

Key findings:
  • In 2015, the MBTA spent a smaller percentage of their budget on bus maintenance salaries than 16 of the top 25 large transit agencies in the country and about the same proportion of their bus maintenance budget on salaries as their five bus agency peers on average.
  • When adjusted for cost of living, MBTA maintenance workers are paid about average – just 2% more than the average for the top 25 transit agencies in the country and only 7% more than the average for the five peer bus agencies.
  • The bus maintenance data misleadingly includes specialized vehicles that are more costly to maintain. MBTA officials and the Pioneer Institute included garages that perform maintenance for electric trolleys and the electric/diesel hybrid buses used on the Silver Line in overall bus maintenance costs.
  • Despite a fleet that is significantly outdated and varied, MBTA buses travel more miles between breakdowns than any other transit agency in the United States. According to the MBTA’s own audit in 2016, MBTA buses average 12,946 miles between breakdowns, compared to New York buses averaging 5,696 miles between breakdowns and Chicago buses averaging 3,008 miles between breakdowns.
  • MBTA’s bus fleet is significantly older than the average for the five bus agency peers used in the Pioneer comparison. The average MBTA bus was nearly 11 years old and 33 percent older than the average of their five peer agencies at the time of the study in 2015.


Read the full report here (PDF)












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