General MBTA Topics (Multi Modal, Budget, MassDOT)

Jahvon09

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First time at DTX since pre pandemic. Nice to see that the war on homeless people has been kicked into higher gear since my last visit. I’m sure these metal dividers are “just to keep everyone safe” as the usual Covid bullshit language goes. Or maybe it was just explicitly done to be anti homeless, who knows. Note that they don’t work, they only succeeded in making the guy sleeping horribly uncomfortable. What happened to kindness?

Also sad to notice the absence of the food vendors and the hucksters. The lockdowns have hurt the poor the most and I hope that a post pandemic world will allow the return of those who live on the margins of society… despite all evidence suggesting that we are barreling into a phase of history characterized by a level of sterility and corporate-only employment on a level never before seen.View attachment 18244

I saw those when I went through that station. But as far as the homeless sleeping on them goes, looks like someone is sleeping just past the trash barrell. I see a foot sticking out & a sandel on the floor. Similar benches are set up at Gov't Center Station upstairs. :)
 

shmessy

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I saw those when I went through that station. But as far as the homeless sleeping on them goes, looks like someone is sleeping just past the trash barrell. I see a foot sticking out & a sandel on the floor. Similar benches are set up at Gov't Center Station upstairs. :)
Good catch!
 

HelloBostonHi

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stefal

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Can you explain what "working capital" means in this context? Thank you in advance.
I haven't seen the T use the term that much, and I was rather confused as well, but turns out it's the same as any other business: cash set aside for short-term expenses (salaries, invoices, etc.).
 

bigeman312

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I haven't seen the T use the term that much, and I was rather confused as well, but turns out it's the same as any other business: cash set aside for short-term expenses (salaries, invoices, etc.).
Thank you! That leads me to another question. @friendchristoph says "money for working capital instead of funding that in one of the hundred other ways available to the T." What is meant by that? What other funding sources were available for this "working capital?" Is the tweeter implying that a different funding source should be covering these expenses? What source?
 

Stlin

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Can you explain what "working capital" means in this context? Thank you in advance.
If they're using the generally accepted accounting definition, that's current assets- current liabilities. In short, it's the difference between what they have on hand and what they owe over the next year.

Colloquially however, it often means operating liquidity- having the cash on hand to pay wages, bills, etc as they come up due. In this context I'm assuming it's the latter, given the description of "ensure adequate cash flow to make payments." Think of it as buffer cash.

Thank you! That leads me to another question. @friendchristoph says "money for working capital instead of funding that in one of the hundred other ways available to the T." What is meant by that? What other funding sources were available for this "working capital?" Is the tweeter implying that a different funding source should be covering these expenses? What source?
I think a fundamental misunderstanding of what working capital meant. I think he assumed it was the same thing as capital improvements.
 
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bigeman312

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Hmm. Thanks to both of you. Based on the responses, it seems to me like the MBTA is doing the right thing by allocating this money primarily to unfounded short-term expenses (“working capital”), and that this tweeter is incorrect in his finding of issue with the T’s allocation.

Is that fair?
 

HelloBostonHi

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Hmm. Thanks to both of you. Based on the responses, it seems to me like the MBTA is doing the right thing by allocating this money primarily to unfounded short-term expenses (“working capital”), and that this tweeter is incorrect in his finding of issue with the T’s allocation.

Is that fair?
I wouldn't say Chris is incorrect, his primary point is that the MBTA has been consistently under budgeting for revenue and acting surprised when it exceeds their targets, rather than budgeting for that revenue and having a plan to spend it. I think his point is we really didn't need all the "Forging Ahead" service cuts because now the T has a pretty sizable cushion of extra money allocated to nothing in particular.
 

Stlin

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I wouldn't say Chris is incorrect, his primary point is that the MBTA has been consistently under budgeting for revenue and acting surprised when it exceeds their targets, rather than budgeting for that revenue and having a plan to spend it. I think his point is we really didn't need all the "Forging Ahead" service cuts because now the T has a pretty sizable cushion of extra money allocated to nothing in particular.
Given the uncertainty coming into FY2022 when that budget was finalized I don't begrudge the MBTA being very cautious and conservative with it's financial planning. In general that's good practice - it's far better to be left with money in the bank than be in the red. In fact, the state recommends that local municipalities be left with 3-5% in "free cash" (difference between budgeted and actual revenues / expenses) at the end of each fiscal year. Either way, the T maybe could have not cut as deeply as they did, but that's only apparent with the benefit of hindsight and actual economic performance - besides, the fy2022 budget was developed for prepandemic service levels. Hopefully the T uses that piggy bank to make some significant investments.
 
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bakgwailo

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I wouldn't say Chris is incorrect, his primary point is that the MBTA has been consistently under budgeting for revenue and acting surprised when it exceeds their targets, rather than budgeting for that revenue and having a plan to spend it. I think his point is we really didn't need all the "Forging Ahead" service cuts because now the T has a pretty sizable cushion of extra money allocated to nothing in particular.
Yeah, that seems reasonable in general, but the pandemic was tough to predict. I also am not sure I buy into his if you just use the money to increase service levels ridership will come back - hasn't service already been generally restored to pre-pandemic levels? I don't think it is what is currently depressing ridership. Not am I sure if you could really just pump more money into the CR to have more trains running given all the other constraints on ridership - there is no way to increase service on the Red or Orange for instance given current rolling stock and other limitations....
 

HenryAlan

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I think a fundamental misunderstanding of what working capital meant. I think he assumed it was the same thing as capital improvements.
Yes, that was my take on it, too, which is unfortunate. Chris Friend has a lot of insightful things to say about T operations and planning, but I cringe when he delves in to the finances, because he (and likely most of his readers) need a better grounding in terminology and concepts.
 

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