Tuesday
Jun302015

MBTA Fare Caps on the Chopping Block? 

As the House Ways and Means Committee continues to review Governor Baker's proposed legislation to reform and improve the MBTA (House Bill 3613, An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), MassCommute has submitted the following letter in support of a final bill that maintains the fare caps currently in place and the millions in funding for the struggling yet vital transit agency through the 2013 Transportation Finance Act:

(download pdf)

June 30th, 2015

Representative Brian Dempsey

Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means 

Massachusetts State House

Boston, MA 02133

 

Dear Chairman Dempsey and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the twelve Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) comprising MassCommute, I am pleased to provide our feedback regarding the latest draft of House Bill 3613, An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

As a coalition of public-private partnerships working with over 300 employers in 40 municipalities across eastern Massachusetts, we recognize the tremendous value that our public transit system provides in fueling and securing our region’s economy and we commend the Governor for focusing his attention to the issues that have plagued the MBTA. We are also grateful to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Transportation for their continued hard work on this legislation.

MassCommute has supported and will continue to support reforms in this legislation that improve the safety, effectiveness and efficiency of our transportation system while delivering maximum value to the taxpayer, commuters, and the business community.  As the House Ways and Means Committee continues to review this bill, we would like to express our support for two key elements:

  1. Fares: We appreciate that this legislation maintains current fare policy at the MBTA. Maintaining a fare cap will ensure that the T raises fares regularly, modestly, and predictably without burdening the hundreds of thousands of households in Greater Boston that do not own or have access to a car.
  2. Transportation Finance: We strongly support Section 7, which allows for yearly carry-over of surplus funds, and Section 25 of this bill, both of which will ensure sustainable funding for the MBTA.  The $581 million in funding generated in the Transportation Finance Act of 2013 is essential to the system and must be preserved. We strong recommend that the Commonwealth continue providing the state assistance at these levels without constraints. Section 25 asks the Baker administration to estimate the current financial gap facing the statewide transportation system and to recommend specific and quantified recommendations to address deficiencies in the system’s state of good repair and capacity. Please consider maintaining these pieces in the final legislation.

To continue to attract and retain world-class businesses and the workers that they need to thrive and survive, we need to invest in a world-class transportation network. This legislation is a step in the right direction and we appreciate your consideration of our comments.

Respectfully,

Julia Prange Wallerce, Executive Director    

Tuesday
Jun232015

MassCommute Responds to MassDOT's Draft Capital Investment Plan (CIP) FY2016

In June 2015, MassDOT released its draft of a one year FY2016 update to the previously published FY2014-FY2018 Capital Investment Plan. This plan, the first to be issued by the Baker-Polito Administration, commits just over $3 billion to our statewide transportation system in FY2016, including $550,000 for TMAs. 

MassCommute provided testimony at the June 16th hearing in Boston and has submitted the following comments in response (download pdf):

June 16th, 2015

Stephanie Pollack

Secretary and Chief Executive Officer

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

10 Park Plaza, Suite 4160

Boston, MA 02116

Re: MassDOT Draft Capital Investment Plan FY2016

Dear Secretary Pollack,

Thank you for this opportunity to provide feedback on the recently released draft of the MassDOT Capital Investment Plan (CIP) for Fiscal Year 2016, and for your commitment to ensuring sufficient and sustainable funding for transportation in Massachusetts. As you know, MassCommute and the 12 Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) we represent work with over 300 businesses and employers in 40 municipalities across the Commonwealth to address employee transportation issues, reduce traffic congestions, and improve air quality. We look forward to continuing and expanding our work in support of MassDOT’s priorities in 2016.

MassCommute values the collaborative partnership we have forged with MassDOT and we have aligned our organizations’ outreach and educational efforts to both help MassDOT achieve its mode shift and emissions reduction goals and support the Commonwealth’s mandates for greenhouse gas reductions under the Global Warming Solutions Act. We thank MassDOT for its continued support of the TMAs and for the inclusion of TMA funding for 2016 using the transportation-dedicated funds generated by the Commonwealth’s gaming initiative (MGL Chapter 23K, Section 62).

A snapshot of how previous MassDOT investment in TMAs has yielded enormous public benefits includes:

  • In 2014, 11 of MassCommute’s 12 TMAs received funding from MassDOT.  These TMAs leveraged this $550,000 from MassDOT with nearly $18 million from the private sector (in the form of membership dues and shuttle investment)
  • That same year (2014), TMAs served nearly 300,000 employees with programs and services that reduced over 7 million vehicle trips, 110 million vehicle miles traveled, and 42,000 tons of CO2.
  • Since 2009, MassDOT has invested $2.9 million in in TMAs which has resulted in an additional $75+ million from the private sector to support transportation improvements, access & mobility.

Currently there are 11 TMAs each receiving an annual contribution of $50,000 for a total of $550,000 through the federal CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation Air Quality) program. In 2014 MassCommute welcomed a twelfth TMA, the Allston Brighton TMA, which represents one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Boston, and there is no funding included in the CIP to support the continued growth of their transportation demand management programs.

As you continue to review and update the Draft CIP, we would like to respectfully suggest the following changes:

  • Increase the amount of funding set aside for TMAs to at least $600,000 annually so that all twelve TMAs in MassCommute are supported equally and so that we may continue our collaboration with MassDOT to create mode shift and reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide. (Increasing this funding to levels above $600,000 would allow other newly formed TMAs such as Middlesex3 Coalition, Crosstown Connect and Alewife TMA to receive support and leverage even more private investment in transportation).
  • Consider strategies to continue the use of CMAQ funds dedicated to public education and outreach to support ongoing TMA efforts through marketing and promotion for 2017 and beyond.

 

We look forward to discussing these recommendations with you in person and are grateful for your consideration.  Please do not hesitate to contact either of us with any questions.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Julia Prange Wallerce, Executive Director                                    Patrick Sullivan, Managing Director

 

 

 

 


 

Tuesday
Jun022015

2015 MassCommute Bicycle Challenge a Success: 146,000 miles biked, 136,000 pounds of CO2 savings 

The 21st annual MassCommute Bicycle Challenge (MCBC) was a smashing success and even broke the record for miles logged by participants- congrats everyone!

During the week of May 9th-17th, Massachusetts commuters and residents logged over 146,000 miles by bike, saving 136,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.  Over 200 people came out to celebrate these impressive results at the annual Bike Bash on May 27 at Flat Top Johnny’s in Kendall Square (check out the pics on Facebook!)

Massachusetts residents, employees, and students were challenged to take some or all of their commutes and other trips by bicycle for a 9-day period during Bay State Bike Week. The Challenge is a free and friendly competition between businesses, communities, and institutions for fun and fitness, and seeks to encourage bicycling as a viable mode of transportation.

 Winners for 2015 included:

Communities: 1) Cambridge 2) Somerville 3) Arlington
Businesses: Meetinghouse Montessori School (1-24 employees), Digital Lumens (25-99 employees), Elkus Manfredi Architects (100-499 employees), MassDEP (500-1,499 employees), Biogen - Cambridge (1,500-2,999 employees), MIT Lincoln Laboratory (3,000-4,999 employees), Children’s Hospital Boston (5,000+ employees)
Colleges/universities: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (1-999 employees/students), Harvard - Longwood campus (1,000-4,999 employees/students), MIT (5,000+ employees/students).  

 

Winners received their awards at the May 27 Bike Bash, where individuals also received Wheelie Awards and participants were invited to participate in door raffles.  

 

Over 2,900 commuters signed up for the 2015 MCBC. Participants from 239 zip codes, 180 businesses and 21 educational institutions logged 146,000 miles, a five percent increase from 2014. These miles biked prevented over 136,000 pounds of CO2 by replacing miles driven.  

 

Several transportation management associations hosted bicycle breakfasts and tune-ups the week of the Challenge. These events provided incentives to bicyclists such as free bike maintenance and the opportunity to network with other bike commuters.

 

“Every year, more and more people are making the conscious choice to hop on their bikes during the MCBC and leave their cars at home,” said MassCommute Executive Director Julia Prange Wallerce. “That choice for some becomes a year-round habit.”

 

The MCBC is organized by MassCommute and has many generous supporters including Gold Level sponsors MIT Commuter Connections and Harvard University Commuter Choice.

 

MassCommute seeks to promote sustainable transportation, reduce vehicular traffic congestion and emissions, and improve access and quality of life for commuters, and through the MassCommute Bicycle Challenge seeks to celebrate bicycling as a viable mode of transportation and invite occasional or recreational bicycle riders to try biking for commuting. 

Tuesday
Jun022015

MassCommute Testifies on Governor Baker's Proposed MBTA Legislation

On May 11th, 2015, MassCommute Executive Director Julia Prange Wallerce delivered the following testimony before the Joint Committee on Transportation in response to Governor Baker's proposed bill to reform the MBTA ("An Act for a Reliable, Sustainable MBTA (H.3347))
Chairman Straus, Chairman McGee and members of the Committee, thank you for the
opportunity to offer our remarks in response to the Governor’s recently proposed legislation to
reform and stabilize the MBTA (H.3347).
MassCommute is a coalition of twelve TMAs representing over 300,000 employees and 300+
employers in Massachusetts, from major biotech companies to property management firms to
universities to hospitals. We are a proud example of how public private partnerships can deliver
significant benefits to the state, its residents & its businesses.
Our TMAs are dedicated to working with communities to promote and provide real transportation
options that reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and drive the state’ economic engine. 
A well-funded, fully functioning public transit system is critical to these goals, no matter where
one lives, works, or does business in the state. 
We commend the Commonwealth for the reforms that were undertaken in 2009 and 2013 to break
down bureaucratic silos within government and authorize critical funding for transportation,
including the consolidation of MassDOT and the Transportation Finance Act of 2013.  
We can’t afford to roll back these steps forward, and yet it appears this is what we are about to do
if we pass this legislation as presented today.
We are grateful to the Baker Administration for taking this “deep dive” into MBTA issues to
pursue increased transparency & accountability & restore public confidence.  But we have some
serious concerns about the legislation that has been put before you today, namely that there
is no clear strategy to address the MBTA’s $6.7 billion State of Good Repair backlog, let
alone to make targeted investments in future system capacity. We are also very concerned
that the proposal for a financial control board will add more layers of bureaucracy to a
governance system that was streamlined in 2009. The intent of transportation reform was to
breakdown the silos in our transportation system. The direction of the Governor’s proposal heads
in the wrong direction of a unified, integrated transportation system for the Commonwealth. 
We urge you to strike the following provisions that we feel would move the Commonwealth in
the wrong direction:
1) Maintain the contract assistance for the MBTA that was outlined in budget
documents accompanying the 2013 Transportation Finance Act. Without this contract
assistance, the MBTA will be unable to meet its operating budget.
2) Maintain the general fund transfers to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund
that were created in the 2013 Transportation Finance Act and designed to fund our entire
statewide transportation system, including roads, bridges and regional transit authorities. We
cannot see how the MBTA and the state’s transportation system can maintain their current level
of service while simultaneously facing the loss of over $500 million in the next five years.
3) Maintain the fare caps that were created in the 2013 Transportation Finance Act.
In the years leading up to that legislation, riders faced steep, unpredictable fare increases that
often resulted in loss of ridership. The fare caps were created in order to create predictability for
both riders and for the MBTA.
We agree with the Governor’s Special Panel that in order to create the kind of 21st century
transportation system that Boston needs & deserves, we need both reforms and revenue.  While this legislation before you proposes some much needed reforms, it lacks the strategic investments
in new vehicles and new capacity that both our current and future needs demand. In fact, it
actually proposes less revenue that what we have on the books today. 
If we are going to continue to attract and retain world-class businesses and the workers that they
need to thrive and survive, we need to invest in a world-class transportation network. We see time
and time again that employers make location decisions largely based on the transportation
infrastructure in place. Our economy depends on this system and we can’t afford to roll back our
investments and mark them with red tape. 
Thank you for your time today and to considering our concerns about this crucial legislation.
Sincerely,
 
Julia Prange Wallerce, Executive Director 
MassCommute 
 
  
Thursday
Mar262015

MA Employers Recognized for Excellence in Commuter Options: ECO Awards 2015

3/26/15

The efforts of more than 170 Massachusetts businesses, colleges, and universities, who promote active, healthy, and sustainable commute options were celebrated today for helping Massachusetts to reduce traffic congestion, to promote healthy lifestyles, and benefit the environment. The Massachusetts Excellence in Commuter Options (ECO) Awards ceremony took place at historic Fenway Park and brought together businesses from across the state that provide innovative programs and resources to encourage employees to travel by public transit, carpools, vanpools, bicycling or walking.

“The Massachusetts employers recognized today are helping the Commonwealth by encouraging more environmentally friendly commuting options that will enhance our communities by providing a healthier and cleaner environment,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO, Stephanie Pollack. “Within the past calendar year, Massachusetts employers saw an increase of over 7,000 commuters participating in commuter options programs, resulting in a reduction of over 11,000 tons of emissions from entering our air.”

Massachusetts is regarded nationally as an innovator in promoting shared use of infrastructure on roadways across the Commonwealth. MassDOT has established numerous policies that emphasize consideration for all modes of travel when designing roadways. These policies include a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the transportation sector.

MassCommute hosted the ECO Awards in collaboration with MassRIDES, the statewide travel options program and MassDOT. MassRIDES and MassCommute actively support employers across the Commonwealth in their work to reduce drive-alone trips to work sites while encouraging employees to travel by public transit, carpools, vanpools, bicycling, and walking – or avoid commuting altogether by encouraging telework opportunities. Together, MassRIDES and MassCommute have over 700 employer partners and member organizations that support green and healthy transportation options.

The awards ceremony at Fenway Park celebrated the efforts of over 170 MassRIDES partners and MassCommute TMA (Transportation Management Associations) members. Nine employers were recognized for outstanding accomplishments, including:

Leadership in Commuter Options
• University of Massachusetts Lowell: Bicycle
• Takeda: Walk
• Harvard University: Transit
• MassMutual Financial Life Insurance Company: Vanpool
• Staples: Carpool

Leadership in Commuter Engagement
• Boston Children’s Hospital: Employer Transportation Coordinator

Rising Star
• Converse
• Hanscom Air Force Base

Leadership in Innovation
• Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

The ECO Awards Ceremony is presented with sponsorships from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Eastern Bank, Edenred, vRide, NuRide, AECOM, Enterprise, Tufts Health Plan, TransAction Associates, 128 Business Council, and the Charles River Transportation Management Association. The generous support of these sponsors allows for greater recognition of sustainable transportation efforts throughout the Commonwealth.

Employers recognized at the fifth annual ECO Awards support GreenDOT, a comprehensive environmental responsibility and sustainability initiative of MassDOT. Within its GreenDOT initiative, MassDOT and the MBTA have worked to dramatically reduce bus exhaust emissions by modernizing the MBTA bus fleet with the addition of Compressed Natural Gas, Electric Trolley, Dual Mode and Emissions Controlled Diesel buses. The MBTA is also undertaking the first locomotive retrofit project in the nation, testing a diesel oxidation catalyst on one commuter train. GreenDOT calls for MassDOT to incorporate sustainability into all of its activities, from strategic planning to project design and construction to system operation. The GreenDOT policy initiative includes greenhouse gas reduction targets mandated under the Global Warming Solutions Act, signed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008. This law requires an economy-wide 2020 emissions reduction mandate of 25 percent, the first step toward a required 80 percent reduction by 2050. The transportation sector generates more than one-third of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced in Massachusetts.

Check the full list of ECO Award winners. From all of us at MassCommute, MassRides & MassDOT, CONGRATULATIONS!! (stay tuned for pics on our Facebook page)

*This post has been adapted from the MassDOT blog