A Look at the State of the MBTA

Visitors to Boston's City Hall Plaza got a look at what riders of the MBTA's Red Line can look forward to next year — shiny new trains.

The update is long overdue, based on the comments of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.

"The average Red Line car currently in the fleet has traveled 2.5 million miles," she said.

The administration of Gov. Charlie Baker is touting more good news about the MBTA — a balanced budget for the first time in a decade, which will allow for more reinvestment in the system.

"Our current Red Line cars, some of which date back to 1970, will be replaced with 252 new vehicles," said MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez.

But not everyone is impressed, including Somerville Sen. Pat Jehlen.

"It's great to have a balanced budget," he said. "It would be great if people could get to their work."

Jehlen is one of three lawmakers who gave the MBTA oversight board an earful at its public meeting Monday about what they say are dangerous and deteriorating conditions at Alewife, which was forced to shut down over the weekend when concrete crumbled from the ceiling onto some cars.

"The governor said he would fix the T. He's had 3.5 years. He says he doesn’t need more money. What's the problem?" Jehlen asked.

"For years, people didn't put the money they should have put into the Core System. And that includes the garages, that includes the tracks and the trains and the rails," Baker said.

Baker had long said the MBTA does not need more money and should be able to better manage what it is already getting: $8 billion over the next five years. But Jehlen does think more money is needed.

"I don't think we can manage our way out of this, really a crisis," Jehlen said.

The MBTA expects to close Alewife garage again this weekend for additional inspections.

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