Getting the MBTA Back On Track

Yun Thiri Aung, Charles Bye, Austin Hoeft, Rachel Lee, Michael Mullaney BSBA

Subject area:                 Financial Health & Sustainability

Region:                           Massachusetts, United States

Industry:                        Public Transportation

Company:                      Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Challenge:                     In this case, our team assessed the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the local public transportation system in and around the City of Boston, and its struggle to regain ridership post-COVID. The severely decreased ridership, as a result of lost trust from the public because of insufficient health and safety measures, has led to compounding issues such as an increasing deficit. The MBTA was looking for a solution to drive revenue levels, outside of a return to in person work throughout the city, above it’s growing deficit as well as regain consumer confidence in the integral and historical public transportation system.

Investment in Personal Capital: Elucidating Professional CORE


Our focus as a team was gaining knowledge and experience with a consulting style report while honing our problem solving skills. We were drawn to the challenge of the MBTA and the value we could add in driving a solution. As a team of mainly BSBA Finance and Accounting majors, our goal was to leverage our skills gained from our respective co-op roles and other experiences to better understand a current issue. This would allow us to create a stepping stone that would benefit our future endeavors. Despite our similar educational backgrounds, we each brought different perspectives and elements to the table resulting in a successful product. Our personal capital investment is outlined below:

  • Austin’s CORE as a PRO: While not personally connected with the company and having no consulting experience, Austin’s previous co-op based experience with data analytics and financial planning and analysis helped him think holistically about the current and future position of the MBTA. This project was especially relevant to him because of the critical thinking and challenging problem solving environment it presented. Having taken a job in the data analytics space and not anticipating a transition to consulting, Austin has enjoyed the challenges this project presented and it’s bridge between business and his new home.
  • Charles’s CORE as a PRO: Charles didn’t have a personal connection with the company. However, having used the MBTA extensively over the last 4 years has made him want to improve the operations and services of the MBTA. Doing extensive research on the MBTA has allowed Charles to become more knowledgeable about business and infrastructure needs within the USA. Learning more about data collection and analysis will help Charles become a more proficient accountant when sorting through vast amounts of information.
  • Claire’s CORE as a PRO: Despite not having any prior knowledge in consulting, Claire enjoyed applying strategic frameworks to analyze financial health of MBTA and developing feasible solutions to improve firm’s operation. While her future career path does not center in consultancy, this project will serve as a steppingstone as she embarks on her journey to become a CPA and eventually starts her own business down the road. This project will definitely come in handy when developing competitive edge for her future business and forming strategies to ensure the business succeeds in the long run.
  • Mike’s CORE as a PRO: Mike, a resident of the Greater Boston Area his whole life, growing up in Weymouth, MA and attending high school in Dorchester has used the MBTA and its services to get around the city for many years. Being a finance major, looking into the budget of the MBTA was very interesting and offered insight on the inner workings and revenue driving operations the MBTA uses and allowed the team to move forward with recommendations not only on how to bring more revenue to the MBTA, but also allowed the team to propose a strategy on how to fund this project over time and promote growth within Boston as a whole with a safer and more modernized transit system. Having relied on the MBTA to get to school and other places for a large part of his life, it is a great feeling to be able to craft a plan for long term success of the MBTA. Rachel’s CORE as a PRO: Prior to this project, Rachel did not have experience with consulting. However, prior co-ops in public accounting helped her analyze data such as the MBTA’s financials as well as assist in market research. In addition, this experience has strengthened her interest in Experience Design as a cornerstone of the practice is understanding consumer experiences and formulating ways to improve them. This project has allowed Rachel to explore consulting and strategic management as possible career paths and diversify her skillset as it creates a bridge between business and people.


Investments in Social Capital: Building Trust within the Company and Industry


This project provided the team with opportunities for interpersonal and technical growth. While none of the team members have a personal connection to the MBTA, the majority of them utilize the MBTA’s services in their daily lives, allowing them to incorporate their personal experiences into a more accurate recapture of the local public transportation system. The team was able to learn how to work together by leveraging their diverse skill set and experiences. Additionally, they were able to align each of their personal goals to fit together and contribute to the group as a whole.


Investments in Professional Capital: Analysing Market Needs, Crating an Industry Map


  • A central component of this case and analysis was in depth market and business research. Through their research, the team analyzed and synthesized documents from financial statements and formal company reports to social media interactions and local publications detailing the struggles of the everyday commuter. The team utilized models such as PESTEL for external market analysis and VRIO for internal analysis. Through these frameworks as well as industry and market analysis, the team weighed various recommendations for solutions to the MBTAs growing challenge and selected the most promising solution to the growing concern.


Capital Utilization: What’s next? 


  • With the team members graduating this year, the project can be used in the future for potential interviews and portfolios should the need arise. This project will be a good example of the value that anyone from this team can add to a potential organization.


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