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Responding to the MassDOT 5 Year Capital Investment Plan (CIP)

MassCommute provided the following comments in response to MassDOT's 2017-2021 Capital Investment Plan (CIP):

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May 13th, 2016

Re: Comments on the Draft FY2017-2021 CIP

Dear Secretary Pollack,

On behalf of the twelve transportation management associations (TMAs) of MassCommute, I am pleased to submit this letter in response to the draft five-year capital investment plan (CIP), and thank you for the opportunity to do so.  Many of our TMAs and their members have participated in the public meetings and we all look forward to reviewing the final approved CIP later this month.

Our coalition is deeply grateful for our partnership with MassDOT, and for the state’s commitment to supporting TMAs through the federal CMAQ program. These funds provide a critical platform from which TMAs are able to engage businesses and employers and leverage private sector investment in solving transportation challenges through innovative transportation demand management (TDM) solutions. We applaud the Baker Administration for combining the MassDOT and MBTA investment plans into one coherent investment blueprint and look forward to continuing our work together in support of MassDOT’s priorities to maintain, modernize, and- where prudent, expand our transportation system.

Acknowledging the shortfall of resources with which the state has been left to fix our current transportation system and build the system we need, we are pleased to see that the following investments have been included in the CIP:

  • Green Line Extension: Consistent with the board’s May 9th vote, we hope that this project remains a commitment in the final CIP, as well as the Community Path.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure on roads, sidewalks, and multi-use paths.
  • Complete Streets Program: Fully funding this innovative program will allow our communities to make our roads safer and more accessible to everyone.
  • State of good repair: Eventual spending of $765 million per year for much needed MBTA repairs is a significant increase over previous years’ spending and will provide real effects on the level of service provided to riders. We hope you will continue to increase this annual investment amount to account for inflation and anticipated increases in construction costs.
  • Fairmount Line and Blue Hill Ave Commuter Rail station:  Strategic investments along this corridor will yield significant benefits to commuters and provide improved jobs connections to underserved communities

Overall, we feel that this is a strong plan that invests $14.4 billion dollars over the next five years and demonstrates that Massachusetts is strongly committed to expanding and improving public transportation and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. We hope that this CIP continues to provide even more resources for transportation investments across the state that will allow our transportation system to keep up with our growing and changing economy. Today’s workers are hungry for transportation options and alternatives to the drive alone commute; our TMAs look forward to continuing to build and strengthen public private partnerships to ensure that those options are available.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this plan, and for your dedication to making Massachusetts an even better place to live, work, and do business. Please do not hesitate to contact either of us with any questions.





Julia Prange Wallerce, Executive Director                                    Patrick Sullivan, Managing Director






MassCommute Supports Commuter Transit Benefits in MA

May 11th, 2016

After testifying before the Massachusetts State Legislature calling for the state’s tax code to reflect changes made to the Federal transportation fringe benefit, MassCommute submitted the following letter in support of a new bill by Senator Keenan that would make transit parity a reality for Massachusetts commuters:

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Representative Dempsey, Chairman

House Way and Means Committee

Room 243,State House

Boston, MA 02133

Re: S2217 - An Act relative to commuter transit benefits

Dear Chairman Dempsey,

On behalf of MassCommute, the Massachusetts statewide coalition of Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), I am writing to express our support for S.2217 “An Act relative to commuter transit benefits” sponsored by Senator Keenan and reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Revenue last week.  The TMAs of MassCommute collectively represent over 300 businesses and employers with more than 300,000 employees in 42 municipalities across the Commonwealth. As public private partnerships, we work collaboratively to create innovative solutions to transportation challenges that reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and increase opportunities for economic development.

Earlier this year, we stood with our partners at Transportation for Massachusetts and the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) to applaud the Commuter Benefit provision that was added to federal legislation to ensure permanent parity for public transportation and bike commuters thanks in large part to the hard work of Massachusetts 2nd Congressional District Representative Jim McGovern. 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, and we know that employees are significantly more likely to choose transit as a result of this legislation.

Unfortunately, inequities in the Federal cap for transit and vanpools and the Massachusetts cap for parking and vanpools create a system that is confusing and serves as a disincentive for many employers to offer the benefit. Massachusetts is one of only three states (that we are aware of) in which the cap on transportation benefits does not automatically increase with the Federal cap.

A 2011 study conducted by the Commuter Benefit Work for Us Coalition found that 77% of small businesses and corporations said they were somewhat or very concerned about inequities in the transit benefit and 60% of large companies with offices in more than one metropolitan area stated that they feared employees would decide to look for elsewhere.

The transit benefit has been used as a tool to promote transit use, conserve energy, improve the environment, and ease congestion. The same study by the Commuter Benefits Work for Us Coalition found that more than 3 million working Americans across the country utilize this benefit. Based on the approximately 150,000 people who use the transit benefit in Massachusetts-the Association for Commuter Transportation estimates that if those people were to stop using transit and drive to work alone it would create a line of cars sitting bumper to bumper from Boston, MA to Baltimore Maryland, with another 18 miles worth of cars to spare.

Employers recognize the transit benefit is an effective tool in recruitment and retention of good employees. However, the burden of a multi-tiered system often outweighs the benefits. The data stated above is reflected in some of the anecdotal evidence we have seen. Small businesses may not offer the transit benefit because of the complexity dealing with different Federal cap and State caps. In the same vein, companies that have employees around the nation opt to not offer the benefit at all to Massachusetts employees in lieu of creating accounting systems designed for only a small segment of their employee base.

The transit benefit helps reduce congestion, improve air quality, and conserve energy, all of which are well established state goals in Massachusetts. Our policies should look to support transit benefit usage, not provide barriers. We strongly urge this Committee to act swiftly on S.2217 and urge its passage as soon as possible to correct this technical abnormality. 

Please do not hesitate to contact either of us to discuss this further




Julia Prange Wallerce, Executive Director                                    Patrick Sullivan, Managing Director





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


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!


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