Transportation for Massachusetts Urges the MBTA to Extend Late Night Service Pilot

March 10th, 2015

Transportation for Massachusetts, a statewide coalition of 47 organizations advocating for a better transportation system in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, respectfully submits these comments to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority regarding the Late Night Service Pilot.

As the pilot for Late Night Service – which extended the hours of operation for all MBTA subway lines and 15 key bus routes to approximately 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights – is being reviewed to determine whether it will continue past June 2015, Transportation for Massachusetts urges the MBTA to extend the continuation of this pilot for an additional six to twelve months in order to provide sufficient opportunity for realization and evaluation of its success.

The implementation of Late Night MBTA Service stands to deliver on a part of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s goal of championing a 24-hour city and positioning Boston as a global business and tourism destination. The service provides direct benefit to shift workers who rely on commuting after traditional business hours, young people patronizing businesses, and corporations who serve customers into the early morning. Unfortunately, the businesses that have benefited from the Late Night Service Pilot have not actually sponsored the program, as was initially conceived.

While university student groups have been among the most outspoken advocates of the service, it is clear from the results of a survey conducted by MassCommute – a statewide coalition of twelve Transportation Management Associations – that people from a range of ages and backgrounds have benefited from the ability to access transit after midnight on weekends, and that people have utilized the service for much more than entertainment purposes:

“I often have critical experiments that extend into the late night, or need late-night check-ins. I also am living cross-country from my husband and children and have flights that arrive to the airport late at night, leaving me having to take an expensive taxi ride. I have been waiting for Boston to extend their service to late night. Please keep this important service available!” -Research Scientist


“This service is absolutely essential to keep me living in Boston/Cambridge and for this city to truly call itself a world-class global city like Chicago, NY, and many others.” -Student

However, metrics for evaluating the success or failure of the pilot were never put in place. Clear goals for each line and route would also allow the MBTA to evaluate whether adding or subtracting certain elements would enhance the service or make it more cost effective. In addition, it is unclear whether the MBTA provided sufficient marketing support to achieve success. For instance, ridership, with about 820,00 riders in the first nine months, was relatively robust, but would likely have increased by aggressive marketing of the new service.

Transportation for Massachusetts recognizes the dire budgetary circumstances and lack of resources faced by the MBTA today, and that the Board faces hard choices between competing priorities. However, we believe that significant untapped opportunity exists to bolster the success of the Late Night T program by way of strategic marketing and corporate sponsorship. To support the continuation of this service, which is instrumental to Boston’s economy, we offer the following recommendations:

• Extend the Pilot for six to twelve months.
• Set clear goals for each line and route of the Late Night Service Pilot.
• Designate a point person and/or committee within the MBTA to aggressively market the service.
• Make a concerted effort to solicit financial support from the corporate sector, particularly those companies whose profits and/or workforce are significantly influenced by availability of late night transit access.

Thank you for consideration of the above. Please contact Transportation for Massachusetts with any questions or need any further information.

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Statement on Governor Baker’s proposed FY 2016 budget

March 6th, 2015

The Governor’s proposed budget provides modest increases for transportation funding over last year’s appropriations, but proposes $15 million less for the MBTA than the 2013 Finance Act anticipated for FY16 and $30 million less in snow removal funding than the average annual amount expended over the past 5 years. A substantial commitment of state resources is necessary to protect our transportation system and the jobs that depend on reliable and safe mobility.

Download this statement as a PDF

Boston, March 5, 2015 – Adequate revenue is necessary to maintain and operate a reliable, future-ready statewide transportation network to bolster our economy and serve our families. Our transportation network, including roads, bridges, regional transit, the MBTA, and walking and biking facilities, has been chronically underfunded. The MBTA faces $6.7 billion in needed repairs, almost $4 billion is needed to fix bridges across the state, and regional bus systems provide infrequent and limited service due to lack of funding. On Wednesday, Transportation for Massachusetts submitted a call to rebuild and fund our transportation system, signed by over 12,000 residents.

In his first months in office, Governor Baker made important strides towards solving our transportation challenges. He asserted responsibility for the MBTA’s system breakdowns and established a Special Panel with a short turn-around and high standards to review the MBTA’s finances, governance and operations.

We appreciate the difficult fiscal reality in which this budget was developed. This is a challenging budget for transportation, and, as proposed, will not facilitate the significant progress we need to improve transportation for residents across the state. We look forward to working with the legislature and administration in the coming months to help them meet the urgent need for improvements in transportation across the Commonwealth.

As the winter storms have shown, we have a fragile transportation system on which millions of people’s livelihoods depend. Ongoing efforts to reform and streamline operations are essential, but they are a complement and not a substitute to financial commitment. Other regions of the US and the world are making these investments and Massachusetts must be prepared to compete in the 21st century.

In our initial review of the transportation implications of the Governor’s budget, we note the following:
1. The Governor’s FY 2016 budget appropriates $187 million directly for the MBTA, $15 million less than the $202 million set out in the Transportation Finance Act of 2013; while this represents an increase over FY 2015, it is less than was promised less than two years ago.

2. The snow and ice removal funding is increased to $70 million. While this is a more realistic number than in previous budgets, it is still $30 million less than the actual $100 million five-year average cost of snow and ice removal

3. The 2013 Transportation Finance Act set aside $80 million for the Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) in FY 2016 so they could provide improved levels of service. Because the Governor’s FY 2016 budget explicitly lists only $40 million for the RTAs, he RTAs should receive an additional $40 million through the MassDOT budget.

4. The budget proposes to allow MassDOT to move funds between MassDOT, MBTA, and RTAs. It is a good idea to permit MassDOT to move a portion of its funds to the MBTA or the RTAs. Transit authorities, however, need fiscal certainty to be able to plan. MassDOT should therefore not be able to remove funds promised at the beginning of the year. Transportation for Massachusetts recommends a revision that would only allow one-way transfers from MassDOT to the transit agencies.

5. The budget for RTAs is contingent on the RTAs making progress on comprehensive service planning, which was an unfunded mandate in the 2013 Act. If RTAs are unable to meet the terms of MassDOT, this provision could become a punitive measure, reducing RTA budgets to FY13 levels.

6. The proposed budget allows MassDOT to seek additional revenue from advertising. It is important that MassDOT be encouraged to diversify and expand opportunities to increase revenue. The recent experience of MassDOT and the MBTA, along with best practices from other transportation agencies, should be instructive in setting realistic expectations for additional revenue from this source.

We look forward to discussing the budget with the Administration and the legislature with the goal of agreeing on prudent investments in our transportation services and infrastructure to support a robust, 21st century economy.

Transportation for Massachusetts is a statewide coalition of 47 member organizations supporting investment and innovation in mobility across the commonwealth. We support policies and programs that contribute to economic growth, public health, sustainability and access to opportunity.

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10,000 names and counting up! See you on March 4th!

February 27th, 2015

Thanks to everyone who has signed our petition for safe and reliable transportation. The commonwealth depends on affordable and dependable mobility.

Please join us at the State House on Wednesday, March 4 at 10AM (arrive at 9:45) for a rally and to deliver our petition to the Governor and legislators. Mayor Joe Curtatone and other speakers will address the need for transportation solutions across the state.

We believe in constructive and respectful advocacy to work together for the investment and reform to support prosperity and opportunity. A 21st century transportation system is a necessity for Massachusetts to compete in the new economy.

We are in this together. And the MBTA only one part of a fragile transportation network, as our Director Kristina Egan writes in the Boston Globe Opinion pages.

Thank you for signing, and please join us on March 4th!

Presentation to MBTA Caucus: Keeping on Track/MBTA Finances

February 25th, 2015

TRANSPORTATION FOR MASSACHUSETTS MEETS WITH 40 MEMBERS OF HOUSE AND SENATE TO DISCUSS FINDINGS OF LATEST “KEEPING ON TRACK” REPORT AND THE FINANCIAL STATUS OF MBTA

LEADING TRANSPORTATION ADVOCACY GROUP GIVES UPDATES DURING MBTA CAUCUS MEETING

Click here for presentation to MBTA Caucus
Click here for February 2015 Keeping On Track Report

Contact:
Rafael Mares, (617) 850-1739, rmares@clf.org
Kristina Egan, (617) 223-1655, kegan@t4ma.org

Boston, MA, February 25, 2015 – At a MBTA Caucus Meeting yesterday hosted by chairs Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), and Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington), the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and MASSPIRG, members of the statewide coalition, Transportation for Massachusetts, updated lawmakers on the current state of the MBTA’s finances. Speaking to more than 40 members of the House and Senate, along with dozens of aides and staff from other offices, the presenters discussed the findings of their latest report, Keeping on Track: Our Second Progress Report on Reforming and Funding Transportation Since Passage of the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Act of 2013 and the history of the MBTA’s financial challenges.

Rafael Mares, senior attorney at CLF, highlighted that failed revenue and expense projections underlying a 2000 law passed to fund the MBTA resulted in underfunding of the transit agency over the past 15 years. He said, “The MBTA was forced to defer maintenance to balance its budget, which is the root cause of the MBTA’s failure to deliver reliable service during the successive storms that have battered the state.” Kristina Egan, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts, added, “Transportation that fails us costs us. A great city like Boston needs and deserves great public transportation. Our economy depends on it.”

The report itself — the second in a series tracking the implementation of the Transportation Finance Act of 2013 — finds that some important transportation improvements have been made across the state in the last year, although it may take time to for Massachusetts to see the full benefits. However, the amount of revenue raised in the 2013 funding bill is still not sufficient to meet the Commonwealth’s ongoing and future transportation needs or to support the state’s economy.

The speakers reported that legislators should expect the gap between revenues and expenses to continue to widen in the coming years.

– The sales tax dedicated to the MBTA has generated over $1 billion less revenue than projected since 2002. At the same time, fuel and energy costs have increased more than anticipated. This has created years of structural deficits.

– Today, the MBTA carries a total of $5 billion in debt service, with almost one-third of this being debt the state gave to the MBTA in 2000. This has resulted in the MBTA being the most indebted transit system in the nation. Over one-fifth of the MBTA’s budget is dedicated to debt payments each year.

– The MBTA has approximate $3 billion backlog in repairs. Every year repairs are deferred ends up increasing the cost of maintenance. Without new revenues, it’s not possible for the MBTA to adequately prepare itself to provide reliable service.

– The 2013 Transportation Finance Act provided new funding for the MBTA, Regional Transit Authorities, and roads and bridges, but only provided about half the new resources needed to bring the state’s transportation system into a state of good repair.

– The need for reliable transportation continues to grow. In the next five years, between 100,000 and 300,000 riders will join today’s 1.3 million daily users of the MBTA.



Transportation for Massachusetts is a diverse coalition of Bay State organizations working together to create safe, convenient, and affordable transportation choices for everyone in Massachusetts. Our 47 members have expertise in transportation, affordable housing, social justice, public health, the environment, planning and smart growth.

Statement on Governor Baker’s MBTA Special Panel

February 20th, 2015

Transportation for Massachusetts, a statewide coalition supporting affordable and reliable transportation for a more prosperous Commonwealth, welcomes the Governor’s creation of the MBTA Special Panel as a positive step towards improving public transportation service provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

We expect the panel’s collective experience and expertise will provide the Governor and legislature with an important base of knowledge for the critical decisions still to come. We applaud the 30-day time period for conducting the review. It demonstrates the Governor’s commitment to diagnosing the problem quickly so that he and his team can swiftly turn to the important work of implementing solutions.

The Governor has indicated he supports a world-class, 21st century public transportation system. By comprehensively assessing the MBTA’s operations, governance and finances, the Governor will be in a better position to make considered recommendations for the long term, even as the MBTA works on the short term service recovery that is critical to the region and to public confidence.

The panel will be aided by past studies and reports, by access to MBTA staff and by public input and suggestions. Many experts and bi-partisan studies have highlighted chronic underfunding of our transportation as the most critical impediment to improving transit service. We look forward to working with the Baker-Polito administration and the State Legislature to develop both the reforms and revenues needed for a transportation network that is worthy of the Commonwealth.

Download this statement as a PDF

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Keeping On Track: Our Second Progress Report on 2013 Transportation Finance Legislation

February 12th, 2015

For Immediate Release
February 12, 2015

Contact: Rafael Mares
(617) 850-1739
rmares@clf.org

Kirstie Pecci
(617) 529-6101
kirstie.pecci@masspirg.org

TRANSPORTATION FOR MASSACHUSETTS, CONSERVATION LAW FOUNDATION, and MASSPIRG RELEASE REPORT ON PROGRESS OF FUNDING AND REFORMING TRANSPORTATION IN MASSACHUSETTS

Progress report shows habitual under-funding for snow removal and that total amount of funding still insufficient to meet all of state’s transportation needs

Boston, MA – Transportation for Massachusetts, the Conservation Law Foundation and MASSPIRG today released their second progress report on funding and reforms created by the Transportation Finance Act of 2013. The report, Keeping on Track: Our Second Progress Report on Reforming and Funding Transportation Since Passage of the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Act of 2013, finds that significant transportation improvements have been made across the state in in the first completed fiscal year. However, the amount of revenue raised in the 2013 funding bill is still not sufficient to meet the Commonwealth’s ongoing and future transportation needs or to support the state’s economy.

“This month Mother Nature showed us what happens when we mix snow with a transportation network desperate for upgrades,” said Kristina Egan, director of Transportation for Massachusetts. “If we want reliable, safe and modern rails and roads, we need to invest in repairs.”

“Our second progress report measures actual revenues and expenditures against projections for the first fiscal year complete since passage of the 2013 legislation, and finds we fall short a small amount,” said Rafael Mares, senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation and co-author of the report. “Watching some of the trends closely, it becomes clear, however, that in future years this gap will grow. Overall, there still is not enough revenue to cover important transportation needs.”

The report finds that:

• Actuals fell $41 million short of projections, a small difference for a budget of over $2 billion, but a difference that will grow larger in years to come.
• Estimates for MassDOT’s ice removal costs ($44 million) were much less than actual costs ($134 million last year, and an average of $80 million per year between FY08 and FY12). Given the record-breaking snowfall this winter, and increased costs for salt, this category will continue to strain budgets in the future.
• The motor vehicles sales tax brought in $32 million more than was projected due to an unexpected increase in car sales. This was a national trend — people delayed purchasing their vehicles during harder times, but it is unlikely to continue at the same rate.
• Prior to any fare increase, the MBTA collected $31 million more in fares than originally projected.

“Over the past year Massachusetts got lucky and the funding gap was narrowed by a boost in MBTA fare revenues and motor vehicle sales tax,” said Kirstie Pecci, staff attorney at MASSPIRG and co-author of the report. “Astronomical snow and ice removal costs, and the loss of anticipated funds from indexing the gas tax will result in a much wider gap in the future.”

Despite insufficient revenue for additional projects in FY14, MassDOT and the MBTA were able to begin a number of capital and operational improvements. For instance:

• A new stop on the CapeFLYER was added to Wareham.
• The MBTA signed a contract for the procurement of Red and Orange Line cars.
• MassDOT plans to build a new commuter rail station in Allston.
• All electronic tolling on the Tobin Bridge was implemented.
• The regional transit authorities, MBTA late-night service, and new and reinstated weekend commuter rail service have been implemented.

However, without additional investment, similar progress in upcoming years is unlikely.

“Keeping on Track” is the second report in a series of reports tracking the implementation of the 2013 Act.

Transportation for Massachusetts is a diverse coalition of Bay State organizations working together to create safe, convenient, and affordable transportation choices for everyone in Massachusetts. Our 45 members have expertise in transportation, affordable housing, social justice, public health, the environment, planning and smart growth.

Thank you, Dr. Beverly Scott

February 11th, 2015

We appreciate the leadership, energy and vision that Dr. Beverly Scott has brought to the job of MBTA General Manager. She has been a tireless advocate for bus and rail riders. We at Transportation for Massachusetts thank Dr. Scott and wish her all the best.

The MBTA is essential not just for its hundreds of thousands of riders. Our region’s commerce, industry, institutions, sports and culture, as well as our neighborhoods and families, depend on it to move people reliably, day in and day out. The next GM must continue Dr. Scott’s work to build a world-class transit system for a world-class city and region.

To do that, the MBTA, like all our transportation across the state, needs resources. The recent and ongoing winter weather has exposed longstanding problems. Delays and cancellations – and the disruption to people and businesses that result – are direct consequences of a longstanding failure to responsibly invest in the system. Trains, buses, electrical systems and switches are decades beyond their useful life. As Senator Tom McGee said, the state has a “transportation crisis” and our transportation system is “completely overwhelmed.”

Underfunding is not confined to the MBTA. Statewide, roads and bridges are on a decades-long waiting list for repair and replacement, and Regional Transit Authorities do not have the resources to properly serve their communities. This problem has been documented for many, many years.

Dr. Scott often spoke about what defines success in public transportation. It is for public transit to be the first choice of the people it aims to serve. The next General Manager should aim for that standard. And the next General Manager should have adequate financial support from the Administration and the State Legislature to rebuild a transit system that is worthy of Massachusetts.

2000 names. One broken system. Let’s fix it together.

February 10th, 2015

In just a few days, 2000 people signed our petition asking the state to fund safe and reliable transportation. Facebook, Twitter, email, news stories and more are making the case that the MBTA was on the ropes long before the snow started falling.

The weather brought this failing system to a halt, and made people pay attention. Unprecedented system closures have made the point that we have a broken transportation system regardless of the weather.

Underfunded transportation is not just an MBTA issue. All across the state, people lack safe and reliable choices to get to work, school, home and live their daily lives. The biggest problem is an underfunded statewide transportation network that is decades out of date, and which risks our safety, our livelihood and our future.

The 2007 Transportation Finance Commission report made this clear. Our 2011 Maxed Out report spelled it out. And it is now up to every one of us to drive home the message: let’s fix this problem!

If you have not signed up, please do. If you have, please spread the word.

Either way, please respectfully and urgently contact your legislators, the House Speaker, the Senate President and Governor Baker and let them know that you support funding a safe, reliable, 21st-century transportation network for Massachusetts. In your own words and with your own experience, explain what the lack of everyday reliable transportation means to you.

Thank you!

Sign up to support safe and reliable transportation!

February 6th, 2015

Please sign up today!

By now, you’ve seen plenty of articles, pictures, and tweets about the MBTA’s breakdown in this week’s snowstorm, along with mammoth traffic jams, detours and delays across the state. After many years of underfunding transit maintenance, upkeep and upgrades, a crisis like this was bound to happen.

Our elected officials need to hear from residents frustrated with the state’s massively underfunded public transit system. Will you add your name to the growing list of MA residents who want reliable and safe public transportation, roads, and sidewalks?

For workers, students, families, seniors and visitors all across the state, our MBTA and regional transit service must be improved and maintained to operate regardless of the weather. Winter conditions have exposed the worst of our transit systems, but regular riders know that we face unreliable bus and train service every day. Can you sign our petition and make sure the Governor and state legislature hear your voice?

Our public transit systems get us to school, to work, and back home to our families. Let’s take this opportunity to remind our elected officials that our state deserves a transportation system that can weather storms. Sign our petition to request sufficient funding for transportation.

Buying a Charlie Ticket should not be like buying a lottery ticket and getting around safely and on time should never be a game of chance. With the support of thousands of residents all across Massachusetts, we will succeed in making investments to improve and maintain the trains, buses, roads, sidewalks and bikeways that we rely on for our daily lives.

Thank you for making your voice heard.

Welcome to the Berkshire Community Action Council

February 3rd, 2015

Our newest coalition member is the Berkshire Community Action Council, a Western Massachusetts agency with a mission to assist low-income, elderly and working-poor of Berkshire County towards achieving sustainability and self-sufficiency. BCAC has offices in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington. Transportation is a vital issue for everyone, nowhere more so than individuals and families in smaller towns and cities.