MBTA officials spent much of their weekly meeting Monday discussing buses: the current state of bus service; what the demands might be for bus in decades to come; what it would take to improve bus service now; and what to do about what T officials say are aging bus maintenance facilities.

Bus usage makes up about 30% of all MBTA ridership – and while much attention has been focused in recent years on the T’s subway and commuter rail performance, the truth is that bus service faces broad challenges as well.

MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramirez told the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board today that he is dedicated to improving performance for riders, and that bus service in particular needs attention:

“First, we need better, smarter bus service,” Ramirez said. “Second, we need more bus service.”

Ramirez said that despite improvements in capacity and performance for certain key routes, there are simply too many routes that are underserving their riders.

He also called out the MBTA’s bus maintenance capabilities, which have been at the center of controversy since the T’s Control Board issued a request proposals to provide privatized bus maintenance services. Currently, those services are performed by MBTA union employees.

“It’s not a rosy picture,” Ramirez said. “Two garages in particular,”  -- located in Quincy and Boston (the Albany facility) – “can’t even accommodate the newest buses in our fleet.”  

Board members also voted to approve a proposal by private developers  Bozzuto Development and Atlantic Development to move forward with a substantial development project on MBTA land at the T’s North Quincy Red Line station.

T staff also announced today that they expect to begin testing electric buses in North Cambridge next year as part of a pilot program to eventually use such vehicles, though they did not lay out a timetable for when electric vehicles might be utilized.

The T plans to purchase roughly 200 new hybrid buses next year.