Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy

First Advisor

Christian Weller

Second Advisor

Mark Warren

Third Advisor

Kenneth Reardon


This study examines the potential for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to transition towards a funding model based on real estate. Given the MBTA's history of underinvestment, as well as the inefficiency of its current funding model - which relies on an appropriated portion of the state sales tax - there is a pressing need for reform. The research is driven by two main questions, centered on (1) the potential social welfare implications of shifting MBTA's revenue to a real estate-centric model, and (2) the challenges and opportunities inherent in such a transition. Consequently, the first part conducts a physical survey to pinpoint potential sites for real estate development, while the second part, based predominantly on interview data, explores the political landscape and the ways in which politics may either facilitate or hinder the proposed reform. The findings from this study not only shed light on the feasibility of the proposed funding model but also provide insights on the broader interplay between public transit economics, real estate, and political dynamics. The final chapter makes a few recommendations, most notably on (1) transitioning towards a new revenue model; (2) streamlining oversight boards; (3) developing a comprehensive regional plan and (4) implementing a cost-benefit analysis for suppliers, among others.


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