Thursday
Mar242016

Over 200 Employers Recognized at 2016 ECO Awards

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Today, MassCommute, MassRIDES and the Baker Administration celebrated more than 220 Massachusetts businesses, colleges, and universities at the sixth annual Massachusetts Excellence in Commuter Options (ECO) Awards ceremony. Attendees were recognized for their efforts in promoting active, healthy, and sustainable travel options.

The event, held at historic Fenway Park, brings together businesses and institutions from across the Commonwealth that provide innovative programs and resources to encourage employees to travel by public transit, carpool, vanpool, bicycling, walking, or even teleworking. This year’s event recognized the largest number of employers to date.

“Massachusetts continues to be an innovator in promotion of shared use of infrastructure on roadways,” said Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO, Stephanie Pollack. “By establishing numerous policies to emphasize consideration of all travel options when designing roadways, MassDOT has helped to reduce the amount of emissions put forth by single-occupancy vehicles throughout the Commonwealth.”

The ECO Awards are hosted by MassCommute in collaboration with MassRIDES, the Statewide Travel Options Program and MassDOT. MassRIDES and MassCommute actively support over 700 employer partners and member organizations across the Commonwealth in an effort to reduce drive-alone trips, while encouraging employees to travel by public transit, carpool, vanpool, bicycling, walking, or teleworking.

“It’s important to recognize the role employers play in influencing employee commuting,” said MassRIDES Director, Diane Hanson. “Because of these employers, MassRIDES and MassCommute are able to actively work with thousands of commuters to reduce vehicle emissions, traffic congestion, and commuting costs.”

MassCommute Executive Director, Julia Prange Wallerce, echoed this sentiment, “We’re excited to have new and returning employers at this year’s sixth annual ECO Awards. This awards ceremony is a great way to call attention to the efforts of these employers, as they continue to showcase their innovative commuter options initiatives.”

The awards ceremony celebrated the efforts of over 220 MassRIDES and MassCommute partners. Eight employers were recognized for outstanding accomplishments, including:

Leadership in Commuter Options

• MIT Lincoln Laboratory: Vanpool
• University of Massachusetts Boston: Walk
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Transit
• Digital Lumens: Bicycle
• Massachusetts General Hospital: Carpool

Leadership in Commuter Engagement

• Worcester State University: Employer Transportation Coordinator

Rising Star

• Six Flags New England

Leadership in Innovation

• Eastern Bank

The ECO Awards Ceremony is presented with sponsorships from Eastern Bank, Taza Chocolate, Ride Systems, vRide, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, NuRide, Lyft, Edenred, AECOM, Ride, TransAction Associates, 128 Business Council, and Charles River TMA. The generous support of these sponsors allows for greater recognition of sustainable transportation efforts throughout the Commonwealth.

Thank you to our sponsors and congratulations to this year's ECO Award winners!

View event program for complete list of award categories and winners

Friday
Mar182016

MassCommute & T4Mass Applaud Commuter Benefit Provision

March 10, 2016

Together with our partners at Transportation for Massachusetts and the Association for Commuter Transportation, MassCommute applauds the Commuter Benefit provision in recent federal legislation that will ensure permanent parity for public transportation and bike commuters.

We are grateful for the leadership of Representative McGovern for his work to provide all commuters with fairness in allowing pretax deductions for commuting expenses. For much of the past 25 years, automobile commuters have enjoyed a disproportionate benefit, providing an incentive for drivers and leading to congestion and pollution. Parity is important so that people and employers can make commuting choices that are best for them.

We also acknowledge the excellent and sustained advocacy of Commuter Benefit Works for Us.

Employees are significantly more likely to use transit as a result of this legislation, according to research by TransitCenter.

This is a milestone achievement to promote individual commuter choice and sound transportation policy, and we thank the Congressmen and his colleagues for their diligence. We look forward to working with the state legislature to ensure that Massachusetts is fully aligned with the benefit parity. Stay tunes!

Wednesday
Mar022016

MassCommute Letter to MassDOT re: Proposed Commuter Rail Schedule Changes

In response to the proposed changes to the MBTA Commuter Rail schedules, set to take effect this May, MassCommute prepared a letter of detailed comments and feedback generated from direct outreach to the 300,000+ commuters served by our TMAs. 
February 22, 2016
Frank DePaola, General Manager & CEO
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Massachusetts Department of Transportation
10 Park Plaza Boston, MA

Re: Proposed MBTA Commuter Rail Schedule Changes 
Dear Mr.DePaola,
On behalf of the twelve Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) of MassCommute, and the 300+ businesses and 300,000+ employees we serve, we would like to thank you for this opportunity to provide feedback on the recently proposed 2016 schedule changes to the MBTA Commuter Rail. As you know, the Commuter Rail provides critical connections to jobs and services and acts as both a driver of our economic engine and a determinant of our quality of life here in the Commonwealth. Our TMAs have reviewed the proposed schedule changes in detail and have engaged with commuters in their service areas extensively to generate feedback. The following comments are a collection of that feedback as well as of the analyses of MassCommute TMA staff:  Read complete letter

 

Wednesday
Mar022016

MassCommute Joins 26 Organizations Urging MBTA to Hold 5% Fare Increase Cap

MassCommute joined 26 fellow members of the Transportation for Massachusetts Coalition in co-signing a letter urging the MBTA to respect the 5% cap on fare increases.  Let's #KeepFaresFair!

February 22, 2016

Dear Fiscal and Management Control Board Members:

Our organizations oppose both fare hike proposals that have been proposed, and strongly urge you to adopt a proposal that raises fares by no greater than an average of 5%. The two proposals raise fares by amounts that are neither modest nor predictable. Neither conforms to the fare cap that was widely understood by riders, organizations, many legislators, and the media to allow for fares to rise only 5% every two years, and which was respected in 2014. 

Comments at public meetings and in other forums have been almost unanimously in opposition to these scenarios, and we ask that you take this public input, from riders, legislators, students, and those from the public health, businesses, environmental, and education communities into serious consideration.

Raising fares as proposed, will most hurt riders who have no other options, including seniors, people with disabilities, youth, and low-income riders. These proposals would mean that bus riders, who are on the whole of lower income than riders overall, would pay 16% to 20% more per month; students would pay 23% more per month; and commuters from a Gateway City like Brockton would pay up to $288 more per year. The fare increase would also cost the Boston school system $1.4 million.

Current riders who have the opportunity to drive may give up the MBTA, especially with gas prices so low. In fact, the MBTA’s own analysis shows that the proposed fare increases will result in a loss of ridership. This moves the state in the wrong direction. The MBTA should be seeking to increase ridership. A loss in ridership has negative consequences for everyone who lives in the 175 cities and towns in the MBTA service area: more congestion, more wear and tear on the roads, and more greenhouse gases. In addition, raising the fares for monthly passes will hurt businesses that pay for employees to commute on the MBTA.

The MBTA has said that fare increases above 5% are necessary to close the MBTA’s operating deficit for next year. However, combining a 5% fare increase ($23 million), proposed state budget assistance that is kept flat from last year ($187 million), and a low-estimate of cost savings identified through the hard work of the Control Board and MBTA management ($55 million) provide sufficient resources to wholly eliminate the operating deficit for FY2017. With the deficit closed and state assistance flat, why are we asking riders to put in more than their fair share?

Finally, MBTA management has said that fare increases will lead to better service. It is well known that the MBTA needs additional revenue to fund necessary repairs, maintenance, accessibility and safety improvements, and capacity enhancements. However, our understanding from officials is that the MBTA cannot spend more on capital investments next year, even if it had more money available. We would welcome a clearer explanation of how the MBTA would achieve service efficiencies and enhancements that would help to improve the rider experience and reduce the state of good repair backlog.

We urge you to put riders first and to honor the 5% fare cap, we thank you for your consideration of this letter, and we commend your hard work to improve the MBTA.

Sincerely,

350 Massachusetts
Acadia Center
Alliance for Business Leadership
Arborway Committee
Boston Cyclists Union
Congress for New Urbanism, New England Chapter
Conservation Law Foundation
Environmental League of Massachusetts
League of Women Voters
LivableStreets Alliance
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations
Massachusetts Communities Action Network
Massachusetts Public Health Association
Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group
Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance
MassBike
MassCommute
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Neighbor to Neighbor – Massachusetts
New England Venture Capital Association
Somerville Community Corporation
Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership
TransitMatters
Transportation for Massachusetts
WalkBoston

Monday
Jan042016

Commuter Benefit Parity Now a Permanent Reality

December 21st, 2015

After a quarter century of imbalanace in tax benefits for car commuters versus transit commuters, Permanent Commuter Benefit Parity has become a reality. The end of year tax deal has recently been signed into law now includes a provision that makes permanent transit benefit parity- meaning that the monthly cap on pre-tax transit, vanpool, and parking will increase EQUALLY to $255/month starting January 1st, 2016. The deal also retroactively sets that transit/vanpool cap at $250/month for 2015. 

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Without congressional action, the Transit Benefit cap was only $130, while the Parking Benefit cap was a whopping $255. 

This is a huge win for all commuters, specially those who have been paying for transit tickets well above the cap.

What will you do with your extra tax savings? 

More on retroactive benefits.....

The legislative text once again includes retroactive benefits. What does this mean? If you (as an employer) allowed employees to withhold above the cap and purchased fare media for them with taxable dollars, you will be able to retroactively apply the $250/month cap for 2015. Again, this only applies to those employees and employers who withheld above the cap. If employees used their own money to buy fare media the new cap does not apply (even if they have receipts or other proof of purchase).

Read more from ACT National