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.

Transportation for Massachusetts Statement on Boston’s Bid for 2024 Olympics

January 20th, 2015

We share the pride of many residents that Boston has been selected as the U.S. candidate to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics Games. We also share the concerns of many residents that the Olympics may divert urgently needed resources and attention away from the region’s and state’s challenges.

While there are many questions that have to be answered about the impact that the Olympics will have on Boston, and on Massachusetts as a whole, we know that we cannot host a world-class event without a world-class transportation system. The Olympics will require new arenas, facilities, and housing. These investments will only be effective if we can get visitors and fans to and from events throughout the region.

In 2015, Massachusetts does not have the revenue in place to fund our well-established regional transportation needs, even apart from the extraordinary demands of hosting the Olympics. Nor is funding sufficient to meet other needs throughout the rest of the state. After decades of underfunding, every region of the Commonwealth needs improved transportation, and we cannot retreat from delivering on this need – with or without the Olympics. As a result, the Olympics will not be able to merely rely on existing funding and plans for transportation improvements.

Preparing for the Olympics presents the region with an enormous challenge and potentially with an unprecedented opportunity to improve the region’s walkability, bicycle infrastructure, and public transportation. To do it right, we need legacy investments that will:

– serve the City, Greater Boston, and the Commonwealth for decades to come (not just during the Olympics);
– benefit low-income neighborhoods and communities of color;
– be climate-friendly and climate-resilient;
– ensure full accessibility of our transportation network for people with disabilities;
– and complement, not reduce, investments needed throughout the entire state.

Transportation, housing, and event venue investments should help Massachusetts address long-standing regional and social inequities and achieve the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets as required under the Global Warming Solution Act. The Commonwealth must also commit to transportation investments that ensure full accessibility to our transportation network for everyone with disabilities.

We call for a comprehensive and equitable plan to pay for the needed transportation improvements and the ongoing operations costs before the Olympics bid is submitted. We also call for robust public engagement that results in concrete actions to advance the transportation, housing, and economic development priorities of the region’s low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Our coalition stands ready to help plan for an Olympics proposal that seeks to advance regional and social equity, reduce climate pollution, and provide a blueprint and identifies the resources for the major transportation upgrades that are so urgently needed throughout the state.

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Welcome to the Baker Administration

January 9th, 2015

Transportation for Massachusetts looks forward to the leadership of the Charlie Baker Administration. Our priorities are shared in The Next MassDOT, a summary of recommendations to keep the commonwealth moving forward.

Read The Next MassDOT.

Essential reform, adequate revenue and expanded choice are the top line issues.

We are enthusiastic to work with Governor Baker, Secretary DePaola, the legislature and with federal, state, regional and local leaders to keep transportation momentum and improve mobility for all. Read the full document or a summary.

Innovative planning for a connected future

December 11th, 2014

Excellence in planning is vital to our success as a commonwealth and a country. Recognizing this, our national partner, Transportation for America, has recently published The Innovative MPO: Smart Planning, Strong Communities.

This guidebook sets forward the important work of Metropolitan Planning Organizations and what they can do to make our cities and towns more vital, healthy and successful. Register today for your own copy!

Every community in Massachusetts is served by an MPO, or by a regional planning agency (RPA) that functions as an MPO. A tip of the cap to one of our 40 member organizations, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, whose work was highlighted in this report.

What’s inside? The seven areas of focus in the Innovative MPO guidebook are:

1. Create an effective and visionary Long-Range Transportation Plan
2. Engage communities in regional decision making
3. Fully utilize all available funding tools
4. Use data to make smart investments
5. Provide technical assistance and collaborate with local communities
6. Make freight work for regions
7. Going beyond transportation

Check it out today! And consider joining Transportation for America to help advance prosperity locally and across the state.

Vote No on Question 1 to Remove Barriers for People with Disabilities

October 28th, 2014

By Chris Hart, Christine Griffin and Valerie Fletcher

Here’s a statement that’s pretty obvious: getting around is important.

Whether you drive, walk, cycle, or ride a bus, train or subway, getting safely from place to place is fundamental. For people and freight, for workers and students, for seniors and for kids, we depend on transportation to live our lives.

Here’s another statement that’s not as obvious: disabilities are universal, and often invisible. All of us will experience a physical limitation in our lives, whether it is you, or someone in your family, circle of friends or workplace. It happens on a temporary basis, or as part of the natural aging process.

When we put those two statements together – the importance of getting around, and commonplace disability – we are opening a window onto an enormous challenge. People with disabilities, and their families and friends, are often left behind because trains, bus stops and stations are not accessible. The result is a heavy reliance on paratransit and medical transportation that are costly and contribute to a loss of independence.

This has been true for decades. But it’s particularly important now, with ballot question 1, which if passed will restrict urgent funding needed to upgrade our transportation network so everyone can get around.

Most of the talk about Question 1 focuses on unsafe bridges, and rightly so. But the upgrades needed to make our transit systems work for everyone are also at risk. For people with disabilities, this is even more critical. Our aging transportation systems were built with the able-bodied in mind.

According to MassDOT, there are at least 25,000 curb ramps and 15,000 bus stops statewide, and at least 60 Commuter Rail and Green Line stations without any raised platforms, ramps or elevators. There is even a station (NEMC/Tufts) where the entrance serving elderly housing lacks an elevator.

The MBTA alone has close to 500 escalators and elevators with a substantial number at or beyond their usable lives. Achieving 100% access and a state of good repair is possible – but it requires sustained investment. Without that commitment, stations will remain inaccessible, and many others will become inaccessible as equipment fails, putting neighborhoods and jobs out of reach.

Consider that an aging population needs more accessible transportation. Many of the households without cars in Massachusetts – 1 out of every 7 – are headed by elders and people with disabilities, and many of these are veterans or their surviving spouses. In metro Boston, nearly 1 in 3 people will be over 65 by 2030. For Cape Cod and the Berkshires, the numbers are higher. Ensuring that our streets, bus stops, and train stations are 100% accessible will create a Commonwealth transportation network that works for all of us.

Question 1 is really a test of our ability to think past short-term self-interest. The couple of dollars per year that the average motorist pays through gas tax indexing is needed to fix crumbling bridges, and it’s also needed to replace the transit lifelines that have been out of reach for too many for too long. For dignity, opportunity and fairness for people with disabilities, and for their families, friends and communities – which is everyone in the commonwealth – let’s defeat Question 1 on November 4.


Chris Hart is the Technical Advisor for the Boston Center for Independent Living-MBTA Settlement Agreement, a former member of the Governor’s Transportation Reform Committee and a Presidential Appointee to the US Access Board.

Christine Griffin is the Executive Director of the Disability Law Center and former Assistant Secretary for Disability Policies and Programs for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Valerie Fletcher is the Executive Director for the Institute for Human Centered Design.

Measuring Up: More Bang for the Buck in Transportation Project Selection

July 17th, 2014

Over 70 leaders from all across the commonwealth and the US attended a conference on July 16 at the Dukakis Center at Northeastern University to understand the important issues of Performance Measurement and Project Selection. This landmark event was cosponsored by Transportation for Massachusetts and Transportation for America. Thanks to the attendees and participants for making this event a success, and moving this important discussion forward at the local, state and national levels.

Conference Resources

See the Conference Agenda

Presentation by Beth Osborne, Senior Policy Advisor at Transportation for America
Presentation by Steve Heminger, Executive Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the SF Bay Area
Presentation by Hayes Morrison, Director of Transportation and Infrastructure for the City of Somerville

Transportation for Massachusetts conference handout

Massachusetts Project Selection Advisory Council:
Main page
Council Documents


Related Information

WeMove Massachusetts: Planning for Performance

  • The recently completed long-range plan for MassDOT is the first, multi-modal long-range transportation plan for state transportation investments in Massachusetts
  • The section on Scenario Planning & Performance Management (pp. 17-29) describes the work of the Office of Performance Management and Innovation. The office was created through the Transportation Reform Act of 2009 when the single, multi-modal agency MassDOT, was formed.
  • The Scenario Planning & Performance Management (pp. 17-29) section describes the “Planning for Performance” tool that was used to forecast performance and condition of the various MassDOT transportation assets under different funding scenarios.
  • The plan includes investment scenarios forecast for years 2023 (the target year for the Administration’s The Way Forward investment plan) and 2040 (MassDOT’s long-term planning horizon year). The funding scenarios presented are based on the pre-2013 finance bill funding levels and the current funding levels afforded by the 2013 revenue bill that are providing $900m more each year.

The Way Forward: A 21st Century Transportation Plan

  • MassDOT prepared the document to identify transportation priorities for a ten year period (2013-2023) and to hold public hearings to identify longer-term transportation needs. The longer term investment priorities are included in the WeMove Massachusetts: Planning for Performance plan that has a horizon year of 2040.

Keeping on Track: Our Progress in Reforming and Funding Transportation since Passage of the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Act of 2013 (2014)

  • The report analyzes the first 6 months after the implementation of landmark legislation that provided new funding and institutional reforms to the transportation decision-making process in Massachusetts.

Delivering the Promise: Improving the Performance of Massachusetts Transportation Agencies (2013)

  • The report reviews progress by MassDOT in achieving reforms called for in the Transportation Reform Act of 2009, and makes additional recommendations based on best practices in other states.

Measuring Performance in the Federal Transportation Program: A Path to Progress and Accountability (2011)

  • A call for action to USDOT for performance-based management of the federal program.
  • The white paper also includes a summary of current applications for performance measures

Performance-Based Planning & Programming Guidebook (2013) from the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA)

  • A tool-kit and best practices summary for applying performance-based planning and programming methods

Guide to Sustainable Transportation Performance Measures (2011) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • A tool-kit and best practices summary of performance measures being used by states and regions to support sustainable communities

Performance-Based Approach to Addressing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Transportation Planning (2013) from the Federal Highways Administration

  • A tool-kit and best practices summary of transportation planning strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

50 State Review of State Legislatures & Departments of Transportation (2011) from AASHTO & National Conference of State Legislatures

  • The report offers a national perspective on primary trends and policy implications, while also providing state-specific data and analysis.
  • page 88 includes a brief profile of MassDOT, including the institutional structure and how funding transportation funding works at the state level in Massachusetts

Measuring Transportation Investments: the Road to Results (2011) from the Pew Center on the States & Rockefeller Foundation

  • A national summary of performance management trends and an assessment for each state DOT on developing and applying performance measures. Outcomes analyzed: access, jobs & commerce, infrastructure preservation, mobility, and safety

Briefing Book for candidates for MA governor

May 28th, 2014

Created with the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance and provided to all candidates.
Read the briefing book: T4MA-MSGA 2014 briefing book

Gas Tax Indexing Fact Sheet January 2014

April 2nd, 2014

Ballot Initiative to Repeal Gas Tax Indexing — A group called “Tank the Gas Tax” has qualified a question for the November 2014 ballot that would repeal the indexing of gas tax to inflation. The referendum proponents have incorrectly stated that the indexing money goes to the General Fund, rather than for transportation…. Read More

 

Keeping on Track: A Transportation Progress Report

March 20th, 2014

Transportation for Massachusetts, CLF, MASSPIRG release progress report on transportation reforms and finance.

 

Click here to view report: Keeping on Track-Transportation Progress Report