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ANOTHER TOTAL MBTA NIGHTMARE FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT BINJ

And another reason to support independent investigative journalism this summer


In the coming weeks and months, we will have lots of thrilling news to tell you about—regarding upcoming Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism initiatives, events, unique ways to support our work, and a new site where you’ll find it all. 

But for now, unfortunately, I have another MBTA nightmare to share. And wow, this one reveals public-private financing arrangements that are way beyond simply insulting to riders and taxpayers. They’re quite complex, and downright denigrating. 

Thankfully, ace reporter Dan Atkinson is up to the challenge of digging through thousands of pages of labyrinthine contracts. Here are some lowlights:

*The MBTA may face “financial consequences” if work on its new T fare collection system is not completed by the end of this month. The degree of those consequences? Potentially up to $135,000 a day in payments to the project’s lender.

*The entity in charge of this public-private partnership is a limited liability company created by two massive tech and finance firms, who have since been absorbed by even larger private equity groups. That means those firms are no longer subject to the government oversight of publicly traded companies.

*Public policy experts we spoke with said that while public-private partnerships are often sold to taxpayers as a way for a private company to take on the risk of a public project, the reality is much different. As one told us, “When we see a contract that has a bunch of these compensation events, that the public sector is on the hook for A-B-C-D-E, that risk didn’t actually get transferred. The public sector is on the hook.”

I’m usually shy about asking for funding, but not today. Over the past few years, BINJ has exposed tens of millions of dollars in MBTA fraud and waste. If you want us to keep dropping bangers like this, showing how private equity gets more out of the T than the riders who rely on the system, then we need your support. Because sadly, at this point, we’re among the few left who are doing this work, especially without a paywall so that MBTA riders can actually read it.

p.s. – here’s some press we got on our latest go-around at the State House as part of BINJ’s legislative program … just one more example of why we need your ongoing support to keep local independent journalism going strong in these difficult times:

Boston Globe Local news is in crisis. Massachusetts state government should take action, advocates say.
State House News ServiceMass. lawmakers eye revival of panel to help struggling journalism industry


Chris Faraone is editorial director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

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