BOSTON (CBS) — The MBTA said it can fully fund its fiscal 2022 budget and is moving as fast as possible to resume service to pre-pandemic levels.
“We are bringing back service as fast as we possibly can on bus and subway with the goal of getting up to 100% of pre-COVID service levels,” General Manager Steve Poftak told the T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board on Monday.READ MORE: Mayor Janey Promises Change After Scandal Over Retired Boston Police Officer
Low ridership during the pandemic decimated T revenue but Poftak told the board the money is no longer an issue with roughly $845 million on the way from the latest federal stimulus.
Poftak also proposed restoring some currently suspended bus lines, restoring commuter rail weekend service that was suspended, restoring the Charlestown ferry and accelerating recruitment, hiring, and training for the subway and buses.
Hours before the board meeting, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey held a press conference with Boston business owners call for the MBTA to restore service.READ MORE: 'Making Good Progress': Doctors Believe Massachusetts Can Reach Herd Immunity In A Couple Months
“We literally can not re-open if our employees can not come to us, if our customers can not come to us during our normal business hours we will not be able to survive,” restaurant owner Brian Moy said.
Janey said the city is launching a pilot program from March 29-April 16. During that time, about 1,000 workers will receive free Charlie Cards preloaded with $60 each. Those workers will also receive free two-month Blue Bike passes.
The program will include the Nubian Square, Jackson Square, Hyde Square, Canary Square, Mission Hill, East Boston and Fields Corner districts.MORE NEWS: 'We Just Need More People': Restaurant Owners Struggling To Find Staff As Former Employees Collect Unemployment
“We have to lift up workers and make sure that they have access to reliable transportation. That is essential to an economic recovery that is equitable,” Janey said.