MBTA System Condition

Above Ground Track Under Construction
Photo Credit: Susana Hey, MBTA

In accordance with the FTA, the MBTA updates an annual Transit Asset Management (TAM) Plan to document the agency’s asset inventory, condition assessment, and investment prioritization.

The MBTA uses associated performance measures and annual targets to monitor asset condition, determine optimum levels of asset investment (such as preventative maintenance), and develop condition goals per asset type across the agency. In moving towards a proactive “predict and prevent” asset management strategy, key future advancements will include digital tracking, automated inspections, and a transition toward predictive maintenance.  Metrics for system condition are reported for FY20.

Revenue Vehicle Condition

Revenue vehicle condition is the percent of vehicles that transport customers and are at or beyond their Useful Life Benchmark (ULB), which represents the end of their expected life cycle based on the type and age of the vehicle according to FTA standards. A lower percentage for this measure reflects a newer fleet. The percent of revenue vehicles at or beyond their ULB for bus, light rail, heavy rail, and commuter rail locomotive vehicles decreased in FY20 over FY19, due primarily to the procurement of new vehicles to replace older ones. The first new Orange Line train entered service in August 2019, and as the MBTA gradually replaces the Orange Line fleet and the Red Line fleet with new cars, the heavy rail metric should improve. The percent of older revenue vehicles in the fleet did not change for vintage trolley, commuter rail coach, ferry, or paratransit minivan vehicles from FY19 to FY20. However, 100 percent of the paratransit automobile fleet reached or exceeded the six-year ULB in FY20. The decrease in mean miles between failures (MMBF) for the RIDE in recent years could be due in part to the aging automobile fleet. Targets for FY21 are lower than FY20 performance for bus, light rail, heavy rail, and the RIDE vehicles (indicating newer fleets), due to expected procurement of new hybrid buses, Green Line train cars, Red and Orange Line vehicles, and the RIDE automobiles and vans.

Type of Vehicle FY19 Performance FY20 Performance FY21 Target FY20 # of Vehicles Measure
Bus 40% 30% 23% 1,138 % aged 14+ years
Light Rail 44% 40% 39% 213 % aged 31+ years
Vintage Trolley 100% 100% 100% 10 % aged 58+ years
Heavy Rail 58% 55% 52% 436 % aged 31+ years
Commuter Rail Locomotive 27% 24% 24% 88 % aged 39+ years
Commuter Rail Coach 13% 13% 13% 420 % aged 39+ years
Ferry 0% 0% 0% 3 % aged 42+ years
The RIDE Automobile 51% 100% 50% 185 % aged 6+ years
The RIDE Minivan 0% 0% 0% 4 % aged 7+ years
The RIDE Van 18% 28% 19% 367 % aged 7+ years

Non-Revenue Vehicle Condition

Non-revenue vehicle condition is the percent of transit- and commuter rail-related vehicles that do not transport customers and are at or beyond their Useful Life Benchmark (ULB), which represents the end of their expected life cycle based on the type and age of the vehicle according to FTA standards. A lower percentage for this measure reflects a newer fleet. The percent of non-revenue transit and commuter rail vehicles at or beyond their ULB was 21 percent, a 5 percent decrease from FY19, due in part to the retirement of older vehicles. The FY21 target is 30 percent of non-revenue vehicles beyond their ULB, as no new vehicles are expected to join the fleet in FY21, and older vehicles may be retired.

Facility Condition

Facility condition is the percent of facilities that are ranked below a 3 on the 5-point scale used by the FTA’s Transit Economic Requirements Model (TERM), where a score of 5 indicates excellent condition and 1 indicates poor condition, with a score of 3 indicating adequate condition. A lower percentage for this measure reflects facilities in overall better condition. The measure assesses passenger/parking facilities and admin/maintenance facilities for both transit and commuter rail modes. The percent of facilities below a 3 on the TERM scale did not change for any facility type from FY19 to FY20. While only 4 percent of commuter rail passenger/parking facilities are in marginal or poor condition, 68 percent of transit admin/maintenance facilities are not in good repair. Targets for FY21 are lower than FY20 performance for transit and commuter rail passenger/parking facilities (indicating better condition), due primarily to parking facility improvements expected from ongoing acceleration work.

Type of Facility FY19 Performance FY20 Performance FY21 Target FY20 # of Facilities Measure
Transit Passenger/Parking 14% 14% 12% 162 % ranked < 3 on TERM scale
Transit Admin/Maintenance 68% 68% 68% 166 % ranked < 3 on TERM scale
Commuter Rail Passenger/Parking 4% 4% 3% 224 % ranked < 3 on TERM scale
Commuter Rail Admin/Maintenance 22% 22% 22% 166 % ranked < 3 on TERM scale

Track Condition

Track condition is the percent of track distance with speed restrictions, which are track segments where reduced speeds are required to ensure a safe and comfortable ride. This measure is used as a proxy for track condition, and a lower percentage reflects tracks in better condition. The percent of track distance with speed restrictions decreased by 3 percent for both heavy rail and light rail in FY20, which may be due in part to accelerated infrastructure improvements as part of the Building a Better T portfolio of projects. Commuter rail track with speed restrictions remained at 1 percent for FY19 and FY20. Targets for FY21 are lower than FY20 performance for light rail track (indicating better condition), due primarily to improvements expected from ongoing track work on the Green Line D Branch.

Mode Of Track FY19 Performance FY20 Performance FY21 Target FY20 Track Length Measure
Heavy Rail 6% 3% 3% 79 miles % with speed restrictions
Light Rail 10% 7% 5% 51 miles % with speed restrictions
Commuter Rail 1% 1% 1% 664 miles % with speed restrictions