Boston’s MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) voted to release Focus40 — a report that establishes an objective process for advancing future capital investments with the goal of positioning the MBTA to meet the region’s needs by 2040.
Focus40 was developed in the context of the MBTA Strategic Plan, which resulted in a forward-looking document. The document was produced following a comprehensive process that factored in scenarios accounting for changes in climate, demographics, and the economy. In addition, the process entailed an extensive data collection and analysis effort, as well as a mechanism for incorporating public feedback.
Focus40 includes several specific capital projects that reflect what the MBTA is doing currently, what is being planned, and what may be done in the future. Projects underway include:
- Improving real-time arrival information for subway, bus, and commuter rail trains.
- Installing steel doors at the Fenway tunnel portal to protect tracks from flooding.
- Replacing the North Station Drawbridge with a modern design that increases the crossing’s capacity.
- Replacing the remaining vehicles in the MBTA bus fleet.
- Improving the ferry dock at Hewitt’s Cove.
- Advancing construction of South Coast Rail, which will lead to passenger service between Boston and the cities of New Bedford and Fall River.
The contents of each of the investment programs in Focus40 reflect a number of strategic priorities, one of which is improving bus service. Bus service improvements will come as a result of efforts to expand the network of dedicated travel space, in addition to the use of new traffic signal technology that favors buses at intersections, and improving the condition of bus shelters.
Other priorities focus on:
- Capacity improvements for each rapid transit line.
- Investing in “greening" the fleet with vehicles running on different and cleaner fuels.
- Making major investments with station improvements, including the initiative underway now at Park Street Station where more than $17 million is being invested in station cleaning, painting, new lighting, updating wayfinding signs to be ADA compliant, and making repairs to benches and the floor areas
While some near-term improvements for Commuter Rail are identified in Focus40, the MBTA Rail Vision study is currently underway to evaluate in more detail the capital investment needs for alternative rail service models and system electrification, as well as other possibilities.
One important element of the Focus40 Plan identifies three types of areas that need and can support a higher level of transit as "Priority Places," including major employment districts, inner core communities lacking rapid transit, and urban gateways. Additionally, the plan recognizes today's infrastructure challenges and shifting demographics, changing climate, and evolving technologies that may collectively alter the role the MBTA will play in Greater Boston in the years ahead. Focus40 will be the foundation for decision-making to assist the MBTA in achieving several goals:
- Sustainability: Contributing to greenhouse gas reduction goals.
- Livability: Improving quality of life with more customer-focused transit options.
- Equity and Affordable Housing: Improving mobility options for all — regardless of income or ability, and supporting more affordable housing near high-quality transit.
- Economic Competitiveness and Prosperity: Supporting local and regional economic growth and competitiveness.
Focus40’s entire portfolio of recommendations, including the priority investments and the places strategy, are designed to be able to support these goals across a range of potential futures.
To view the full report, click here.