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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



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.


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
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Neighbor to Neighbor – Massachusetts
New England Venture Capital Association
Somerville Community Corporation
Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership
Transportation for Massachusetts


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. 


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


How Top Employers Are Getting People To Work

November 20, 2015

MassCommute recently helped to organize a roundtable presentation and discussion on innovative approaches to workforce transportation, in collaboration with the 495/MetroWest Partnership, Transportation for Massachusetts, and Transportation for America.  

Attracting and retaining forward-looking companies, and tomorrow's workforce, will require the region to be smart about transportation solutions, competitive with other regions, and committed to the transportation needs of all workers.


This program was presented in Foxborough with the support of LyftPatriot Place, the Neponset Vallet TMA and TransAction Associates.

Thank you to Senator James Timilty, Representative Chris Walsh and staff from Senator Elizabeth Warren for attending.

Presenters included:

  • Paul Matthews, Executive Director, 495/MetroWest Partnerhip
  • Dan Krantz, the Kraft Group
  • James Corless, Director, Transportation for America
  • Brendon Harrington, Transportation Operations Manager, Google
  • Tom Ragno, King Street Properties
  • Melissa Tintocolis, Economic Development Director, Town of Lexington
  • Scott Zadakis, Director, CrossTown Connect Transportation Management Association
  • Keith Bergman, Littleton Town Administrator
  • Dean LaMothe, Director of Finance for E Ink
  • Astrid Glynn, MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator
  • Forrest Hanson, Lyft Commercial Enterprise Solutions
  • Kristina Egan, Director, Transportation for Massachusetts

Presentations are available for:

Video of presentations by:

Read the Conference Program

Transportation for America Jobs Access fact sheet

Check the MassCommute Facebook Page for pictures.

Thanks to all who attended and supported this event!


MassCommute & MAPC Host #CommutingMatters Forum 10/8/15

On Thursday, October 8, MassCommute and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) co-hosted a breakfast forum at Atlantic Wharf in Boston for municipalities and employers to discuss ways they can work together to reduce congestion and increase our ability to attract and retain a competitive workforce through better transportation options.

The featured speaker was Mayor Kimberley Driscoll of Salem. Mayor Driscoll discussed the importance of implementing local policies for managing traffic, and outlined examples of the ways that Salem has enhanced its infrastructure and improved mobility for residents and tourists alike.

Julia Prange Wallerce, Executive Director, MassCommute and Alison Felix, Senior Transportation Planner, MAPC, presented the findings from two recent research papers on transportation management associations and transportation demand management.

Moderated by Patrick Sullivan, Managing Director, Mass Commute, a panel discussion then convened. The panelists, listed below, were business and municipal stakeholders who have successfully created partnerships to implement such programs:

  • Stephanie Groll, Parking and TDM Planning Officer, City of Cambridge
  • Susan McGowan, Associate Director, Benefits, Biogen
  • Melisa Tintocalis, Economic Development Director, Town of Lexington
  • Tom Ragno, Principal, King Street Properties

The forum also featured Katherine Fichter, Massachusetts Assistant Secretary for Policy Coordination at MassDOT who spoke about the state’s role in supporting local transportation options. The forum then concluded with closing remarks from our own Marc Draisen.








To see all of the slides used in the forum, click here

Links to MAPC’s and MassCommute’s research papers are below:

"Transportation Demand Management - Case Studies and Regulations," by MAPC

"Making the Shift: How TMAs in Massachusetts Leverage Private-Sector Resources to Achieve State Goals & Public Benefits," 

Check out the video clips on YouTube:

Keynote- Mayor Driscoll pt1 (5:02): view

Keynote- Mayor Driscoll pt2 (1:00 ): view

Keynote- Mayor Driscoll pt3 (1:35): view 

Keynote- Mayor Driscoll pt4 (2:00): view 

Keynote- Mayor Driscoll pt5 (1:18): view

Panel p1- Melisa Tintocolis and Tom Ragno (7:37): view

Panel pt2: Tom Ragno (0:30): view

Panel pt3- Stephanie Groll (4:05): view

Panel pt4 - Susan McGowan (5:44)): view   

Marc Draisen, Closer (4:36): view

See more photos on Facebook