Latest News

In the news

T4MA Statements

T4MA Statement on the Governor’s Budget Proposal and EO 626

For Immediate Release

Reggie Ramos

Executive Director

Transportation for Massachusetts

rramos@t4ma.org

Yesterday, Governor Healey submitted her budget proposal to the Legislature. The budget features significant transportation appropriations. We appreciate the increase in the MBTA’s operating funds from $187 million to $314 million particularly as the MBTA has been warning of a financial cliff with an estimated gap anywhere from $567 million to $652 million.

We support the Governor’s inclusion of $45 million for low-income fares for the MBTA. We are finally seeing years of work and collaboration in providing reduced fares on the fixed routes and The Ride for low-income riders come to fruition. Low-income fares are a cornerstone of equitable transportation. We hope this signals a sustained commitment to low-income fares in the future.

While we see an increase for the MBTA, funding transfers for the Regional Transit Authorities remain the same at $94 million with a decrease of $15 million in Fair Share funding from $90 million to $75 million for FY25 that would eliminate grants for transportation innovation ultimately impacting communities. We appreciate the Governor’s continuing grants for fare-free programs on the RTAs and hope that future increases in investments will continue. To this day, some RTAs are not able to deliver service late nights and weekends due to a shortage of resources.  

The Governor yesterday also issued Executive Order 626, creating the Governor’s Transportation Funding Task Force, charged with recommending a sustainable transportation finance plan for Massachusetts. Finding sustainable and reliable funding sources for transportation is critical as this assures the commonwealth of a steady flow of much needed dollars to address the needed statewide investments in transportation. 

To fulfill the task premised on equity, T4MA believes that it is essential for the task force to reflect the diversity of Massachusetts for it to arrive at a holistic transportation funding structure. Identifying funding sources and creating revenue that is equitable and not regressive can only truly happen in inclusive conversations that center the lived experiences of those most impacted by transportation policies. We will continue to advocate that the voices of people with disabilities, environmental justice communities, labor advocates, and transportation advocates, among others, are heard and that they are engaged meaningfully in this process. We hope the composition of the task force will include all of these perspectives.

####

About T4MA:

Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA), established in 2010, is a statewide coalition focused on improving Massachusetts’ transportation systems. T4MA is committed to addressing the decades of inequitable transportation policies adversely impacting low-income, working class and Black, Indigenous and communities of color. We strive to eradicate the long lasting impacts of inequitable transportation policies that have resulted in Massachusetts with some of the highest childhood asthma rates in the nation, transit deserts in rural and urban communities, socially isolated residents who lack transportation options, and a lack of opportunity and access to jobs, healthcare, and education for people.

We envision and work towards a Commonwealth with transportation systems that connect people with their choice of housing, economic opportunities, healthcare, and accessible and reliable public transportation that benefits residents in all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. Our coalition advocates at the state, federal, and local levels for transportation policies that are just, equitable, and sustainable.

T4MA Statement on MBTA Track Improvement Program 2023-2024

November 9, 2023 – “Today, the MBTA announced its plan for a Track Improvement Program set to be implemented throughout 2024.  Considering the safety challenges and the slow zones that have beset the system of late, a plan of this breadth has been anticipated. The communication of a comprehensive, systemwide, year-long plan to address track issues is crucial and appreciated. We hope this signals a new level of transparency with the public for the MBTA especially as the work progresses. This allows impacted communities to plan their trips and activities ahead, and for municipalities to prepare for these shutdowns, ensuring riders’ lives are not disrupted greatly.  

T4MA and our members will continue to hold the MBTA to their obligation to provide accessible mitigation measures and abide by their service delivery policy. The MBTA needs to increase and improve safety to restore the confidence of their riders. Track improvement of this scale will need funding, and we are aware that the MBTA is facing a financial cliff. Information on how this will be funded, and how this can be folded into existing projects or potentially impact other MBTA projects are both valuable and crucial.

In providing mitigation service, we expect that the MBTA will keep its commitment to accessibility, span, availability and reliability of service. Affected riders, particularly those who have limited transit options, would have to contend with substituting their usual rapid transit commute to shuttle buses that would have to go through already congested roadways. The goal would be to provide service during these shutdowns that would not further discourage core riders to use public transit. Likewise, we expect the MBTA to work closely with municipalities at the soonest opportunity to ensure that appropriate preparations are made for instance, around bus lanes, bus stops and road traffic management.

We look forward to seeing a robust, accessible and transparent communication plan that would inform the public of the progress of the track work, provide detailed and plain language directions, and alert them in real time of changes to the diversion plan as and when they happen. Consistent, accessible, and reassuring wayfinding signs should also be in place to help riders navigate through the modifications of their transit experience.”

Reggie Ramos, T4MA Executive Director

T4MA Congratulates Governor-elect Maura Healey

Statement from Transportation for Massachusetts regarding Governor-elect Maura Healey, the approval of the Fair Share Amendment, and the Work and Family Mobility Act.

November 10, 2022 – “Transportation for Massachusetts congratulates Governor-elect Maura Healey for her historic victory as the next governor of Massachusetts. Governor-elect Healey’s campaign led on creating a safer, more accessible and equitable transportation system in Massachusetts, and we look forward to working with her administration to advance this work as she begins her tenure as governor.  

With the passing of Question 1, the Fair Share Amendment, it is clear the voters of Massachusetts want an improved transportation system. This new revenue will support the Commonwealth in making a down payment on the decades of underinvestment in our statewide transportation network infrastructure. We look forward to working with the legislature and advocating for thoughtful spending on upgrades to our public transit systems, understanding public transit is a lifeline for numerous residents to access services, jobs, healthcare, and economic opportunities – all the things that make Massachusetts a welcoming place to live and work. The new revenue will also allow us to create safer streets for residents to reduce and hopefully eliminate traffic fatalities and repair our roads and structurally deficient bridges – all of which is long overdue. 

Massachusetts voters also want safer roads for some of our most vulnerable road users by the passing of Question 4, keeping the Work and Family Mobility Act in place. Keeping the right for immigrants to obtain drivers licenses by testing and carrying insurance not only means that immigrants can legally drive to places they need to go, it also means more folks on the road know the rules and both people inside and out of the car are kept safe on our streets.” 

###

Transportation for Massachusetts is a diverse statewide coalition of more than 100 member and partner organizations that advocates at the state, federal, and local levels for transportation policies that are just, innovative, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.

T4MA Statement On New MBTA Board Of Directors

“We welcome and thank incoming Chair Betsy Taylor and all members of the new MBTA Board of Directors for their commitment to public transit. They have their work cut out for them. Our statewide coalition looks forward to working with the MBTA Board and staff to address critical issues around safety, equity, affordability, climate resilience and modernization. We also expect the Legislature to support the resources necessary to ensure that the MBTA fulfills its essential mission,” said Josh Ostroff, Interim Director at Transportation for Massachusetts.

T4MA Statement on FTA Safety Report

T4MA Statement on the FTA Safety Management Inspection Report

August 31, 2022 — MBTA riders deserve a system that is safe and reliable on a day-to-day basis, but that also looks to the future with long-term improvements. The Federal Transit Administration report makes clear that the Baker Administration and MBTA leadership have instead created a false choice between capital and operations funding — shortchanging operations and diminishing rider and employee safety.

Our leaders – the Governor, the MBTA and its board, the Department of Public Utilities, and the state legislature – need to make an immediate course correction. We urge our partners in state government to maintain the focus on capital investment, which is urgent and overdue, but not at the expense  of rider safety and public confidence.

Major safety upgrades to the Orange Line, as well as new Orange and Red Line cars, show that we can plan for day-to-day safety and long-term benefit – often at a short term cost to rider convenience. The MBTA must act with urgency to staff and maintain a reliable transit system. The legislature must demonstrate political will and provide increased funding for overdue capital investment and responsible operational budgets.

We are grateful to the FTA for digging into issues that for too long have been neglected, and to the MBTA workers who have continued to serve riders day after day with dignity.

T4MA Announces 2022 Transportation Justice Grants

Transportation for Massachusetts is pleased to award grants to twelve organizations around the Commonwealth working to improve mobility for underserved populations. Thank you to the Barr Foundation for their ongoing support! This is the fourth grant cycle for Transportation Justice grantmaking. More information is available at t4ma.org/tj_rfp.

Grants have been awarded to…

  • Action for Equity
  • Bikes Not Bombs
  • Coalition for Social Justice
  • Community Economic Development Center
  • Greater Four Corners Action Coalition
  • GreenRoots
  • Groundwork Lawrence
  • Institute for Human Centered Design
  • Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition
  • The Bike Connector
  • The Welcome Project

More information about each grant follows.

  • Action for Equity, Dorchester. The grant will support the work of an organizer to rebuild and maintain a dynamic A4E Transit Committee and speak to the needs of riders within environmental justice communities as well as support for educational community events. Action will work to educate and organize local riders to support electrification of the Fairmount/Indigo Line.
  • Bikes Not Bombs, Jamaica Plain. The grant will support four priorities: organizing for transportation equity by engaging in public discourse to gauge community needs around equitable mobility; launching a new BNB Roxbury Bike Shop and Bike School in partnership with Children’s Services of Roxbury; providing over 10 free community bike repair events; Ride for Black Lives, partnering with Coalition for Black Lives to run 7 community rides in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Coalition for Social Justice, New Bedford. The grant will support continued work with statewide members and partners to move away from farebox based funding and move towards viewing transportation as a service, which will allow for lower/free fares for those who need it most. CSJ will host community engagement events and conduct bus stop outreach.
  • Community Economic Development Center, New Bedford. The grant will support CEDC to mobilize bus riders in the SRTA area to provide meaningful input as direct stakeholders in efforts to improve SRTA service in New Bedford. CEDC will engage riders at bus stops to collect data about service needs and to invite bus riders to public meetings, while working to mitigate language barrier challenges.
  • Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, Dorchester. The grant will support GFCAC in continuing their Connected Communities Campaign, which works to increase ridership of Fairmount Line riders by increasing awareness of transit options, promoting accessibility enhancements, and safety improvements for a higher quality service.
  • GreenRoots, Chelsea. Funding from T4MA will support a full-time transit justice organizer to engage the community more deeply and robustly while also having funds to provide stipends to riders who are connected to the work, to support their time and energy and help them rebuild post-pandemic.
  • Groundwork Lawrence, Lawrence. GWL will work with stakeholders including the City of Lawrence, MVRTA, MVPC, CLF, and Lawrence Pa’lante – a resident-led task force focused on the intersection of transportation, climate, and equity – to achieve safer, cooler streets with the goal of encouraging Lawrence residents to walk, bike, and ride public transit.
  • Institute for Human Centered Design, Boston. This project will utilize ‘mobility as a service’ (MaaS) as a framework to study micromobility as a component of shared mobility. The institute will conduct an equity analysis of disability, race, age, and economic status relative to micromobility, focused on Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury, Chelsea and Revere, plus Quincy and Brockton.
  • Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition, Boston. Funding will be used to continue the Transportation Talk (T-Talk) Series to engage more residents in regards to the transportation projects happening in the Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, and explore how transportation plays a role in their quality of life. Funding will be allocated to provide stipends to the partner organizations and to event speakers.
  • The Bike Connector, Lowell. This grant strengthens The Bike Connector’s capacity to provide the Lowell community with safe, affordable bicycles and offer a community do-it-together bicycle shop to help people stay on their bikes. Funds will support a part time shop assistant to manage the shop, providing continuity in day-to-day operations and a manageable experience for volunteer mechanics.
  • The Welcome Project, Somerville. The grant will help TWP continue building on larger intersectional environmental justice projects within the immigrant and the BIPOC communities; they will focus on 1) safe streets and increased bus service for Mystic Public Housing and East Somerville residents and 2) cleaner air quality for residents living closest to I-93 and Routes 38 and 28.

Western Massachusetts Transportation Advocates Network, Hatfield. Funding will enable the hire of an intern or contract worker to implement several pending projects including: generating archives of previous work, creating written timeline/story, conducting GIS mapping of existing bus and microtransit routes in the four counties to see where gaps exist, creating a helpful guide for people to travel across RTA zones and anticipate the length of a trip, as well as create a website for the Network.

Transit Is Essential Statement On House Exclusion of Low-Income Fare Amendment

“It is disappointing that the House chose to exclude from the final transportation bond bill a low-income fare program that would help thousands who are struggling with the burden of transit costs and the high cost of gasoline, is proven to increase transit ridership, and is supported by more than 80 percent of people across the Commonwealth. More than 90 percent of low-income MBTA riders don’t qualify for the limited existing low-income programs – for youth and seniors. This current system is simply not equitable. We will advocate vigorously for a low-income fare program as the bill moves to the Senate.”

Transit Is Essential Statement On MBTA Service Cuts As A Result of FTA Safety Directives

“MBTA Orange, Red and Blue Line service cuts are disappointing but not surprising to the riders, advocates, and employers who for years have been calling on state leaders to fully fund the system our region deserves.

Short-sighted underinvestment in the day-to-day staffing and operations of the MBTA must end now. The FTA report is crystal clear: the T needs more people and resources.

Governor Baker must take responsibility for the MBTA and prioritize meeting the FTA deadlines and restoring service as swiftly as possible – while the legislature must act now to ensure the MBTA has the personnel and infrastructure needed for safe, reliable service into the future.”

Statement on Governor Baker’s Transportation and Climate Bond Bill

Transportation for Massachusetts applauds Governor Baker’s filing of a $9.7 billion bond bill to leverage incoming federal funds from the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The broad outlines of this legislation — to help modernize and electrify our transit systems, repair our bridges and roads, and incentivize electric vehicles – have the potential to improve people’s lives in every corner of the state.

We encourage the state legislature to take up this bond bill and hold hearings as soon as possible. Massachusetts is now competing with other states for discretionary federal grant funding that is included in the IIJA. The sooner the legislature enacts this bill, the sooner we can leverage this urgently needed funding.

As our state legislators advance this bill, it will be critical that they:

  • Focus on transportation justice. Residents in underserved communities need access to safe, reliable and affordable transit, and for too long have been subjected to inequitable investment and service. The legislature has an obligation to right historic wrongs and focus federal and state funding on transit, cycling and pedestrian investments to benefit marginalized communities across the state. Communities of color in particular bear the burden of poor air quality and substandard service. Massachusetts must redress this long standing inequity and ensure that transportation investments advance justice.
  • Build on climate progress. We thank the Governor for prioritizing climate readiness and carbon emissions reduction in this legislation. Fossil fuel-powered transportation is the greatest source of carbon emissions in Massachusetts, while also contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular disease in people living in environmental justice communities. It is critical we take on this crisis with investments and policies that lead to cleaner air and water, and not add to climate pollution.
  • Provide state-level matching funds. Timely legislative action on this bill will provide the state match for federal funding for critical projects such as electrification of our transit network.
  • Make additional long-term transportation investments in infrastructure and operations. This legislation gets us part way to where we need to go. The full cost to electrify our transit fleets, upgrade our deficient bridges, ensure safe and welcoming walkways and bikeways, and bring our local roads and other infrastructure into a state of good repair is not covered by the IIJA, nor by existing state revenues. This bill authorizes state debt to match new federal funding, but the size of this bill is not sufficient to address the needs of people in our cities, suburbs and rural communities.
  • Advance sustainable transportation revenue. Massachusetts needs additional, dedicated revenue to meet all of our statewide transportation needs, including capital investments and operations, because we will face operating deficits as soon as FY 2024. We must modernize our transportation system and support it with fair and sufficient funding to ensure a high level of service and safety for residents in every community. 

In summary, we need timely state and civic leadership to ensure that we have the resources both to make needed capital investments, and also fund the operations needed to protect our economy, and deliver the clean and equitable transportation network that the people of Massachusetts deserve.

Statement on Massachusetts Withdrawal from TCI

While Governor Baker has made a decision to withdraw from the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative, the goals of TCI remain as important as ever. 

For the sake of the entire Commonwealth — but particularly our environmental justice populations that have been most adversely impacted by transportation pollution and by the COVID-19 pandemic — reducing carbon emissions and tailpipe pollution must remain a high priority, and the Commonwealth’s laudable climate goals must be backed up by decisive action. 

Incoming federal infrastructure dollars are a welcome down payment as we confront decades of underinvestment in our transportation system which have led to soul-sucking congestion, multiple train derailments, over 400 structurally deficient bridges, and a $10 billion maintenance backlog at the MBTA.

But this influx of federal funding should also raise expectations for timely and decisive leadership by the Governor and the State Legislature. In the absence of TCI, we call on the Governor and lawmakers to double down on transportation investments that are clean, equitable, healthy, and safe, and to take bold steps to move Massachusetts away from our congested, unhealthy and unreliable transportation status quo.

Transit is Essential Calls for Action on MBTA Safety and Funding at State House Rally

Group demands urgency around known solutions: legislative investment and accountability through naming an MBTA board

Calling for action from both the Governor and state legislature, advocates, riders, and municipal leaders rallied on September 30 at the State House following a series of safety-related incidents throughout the MBTA system, including Red and Orange Line derailments and dangerous conditions on station stairs and escalators. 

“We know the solutions to the challenges facing the T, and we have the power to fix them,” said Josh Ostroff, Interim Director at the Transportation for Massachusetts Coalition. “The question is — what crisis will it take for our leaders to act with the urgency and scale required?”

Showing a stack of more than 35 expert reports written over 20 years on the topics of MBTA investment, safety, and planning, the group reinforced key courses of action necessary for a safe and reliable system:

  • an investment plan leveraging incoming federal dollars to advance not only a safe system, but the clean, equitable, and modern system Massachusetts residents deserve;
  • accountability and transparency to rebuild trust with riders, most immediately through reconvening an MBTA board to replace the Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB), which sunsetted in June; and
  • steady and sufficient legislative funding to overcome long-standing MBTA financial deficits, fix outdated infrastructure, and hire the additional talent the T needs to succeed.

“More than ever, we need riders to trust the system. Under the prior board, the MBTA accelerated key projects and increased capital spending – and riders began seeing bright spots of a system moving in the right direction,” said Jarred Johnson, Executive Director, TransitMatters. “We need a new board now to build back that trust and oversee urgent priorities.”

“Investment is key. Federal dollars are critical to bringing forth the system we need, but one-time federal funding is a down-payment, not the full payment,” said Stacy Thompson, Executive Director, LivableStreets Alliance. “We need the legislature to step up to ensure the MBTA is on sustainable footing for the long-term.”

“People rely on the T to get to work and school, and they rely on the trains, buses, stairs, and escalators being safe,” said CLF Staff Attorney Juanita Gibson. “The Baker Administration must ensure that safety is the number one priority. Now is the time to invest in the current system and plan for a climate-resilient MBTA of the future.”

“The legislature advanced MBTA accountability and transparency by mandating the new Board include a worker representative nominated by the Mass AFL-CIO, as well as a rider representative who lives in an environmental justice community,” said Lee Matsueda, Co-chair of the Public Transit Public Good Coalition and ED of Community Labor United. “Governor Baker must move quickly to appoint a new board that includes the worker member, and one of the rider nominees backed by dozens of community groups in our July letter.”

“A safe, reliable, and affordable transit system is critical for an equitable and resilient economic recovery,” said Kasia Hart, policy analyst for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. “Now is the time to create a pathway for sustainable, long-term funding for the MBTA.”

“We know what needs to happen to make and keep the T safe and that none of the bold, transformative improvements we want (like electrification or regional rail or bus transformation) are possible without it,” said Julia Wallerce, Boston Program Manager for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. “Right now the only thing standing in the way is political will. It’s time for Governor Baker and the legislature to step up to the plate with the investment and funding mechanisms we need to avoid more preventable tragedies and set the system on track for a safe, sustainable future.”

Statement of T4MA on Forecasted Fiscal Calamity

September 16, 2021 — Public transit is an essential service, a public good, and the backbone of our state economy. Years of reports and studies have established that in order for Massachusetts to be competitive and to serve all residents, we must have a modernized transit network that is equitable, efficient and environmentally sustainable. The Governor and the State Legislature are entrusted with this responsibility.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report makes clear, and the pandemic has exacerbated the reality, that we do not yet have a dedicated, adequate state funding plan to support the public transit investments and operations needed to serve the public, and we will soon face the economic, social, and environmental consequences of this lack of preparation. 

The report also shows that the Governor, Legislature, and MBTA should begin to address this crisis now, rather than waiting for the buses and trains to run off the fiscal cliff that lies ahead. Cuts to service and fare hikes to balance budgets are not the answer: public transit must be affordable and accessible to everyone if we are to live in a just and society with equitable access to opportunity.

Massachusetts must adequately fund its statewide transportation system through dedicated, sustainable transportation revenues. It must be a high priority for the legislature and the Governor to commit to the overdue and critical task of funding public transit. We cannot wait until we reach a fiscal cliff.

Statement on TCI Ballot Question

Proposed Initiative Petition Would Worsen Climate, Equity And Transportation Crises

BOSTON , September 1, 2021 — As the extreme weather across Massachusetts and beyond makes clear, we face a climate crisis that threatens our Commonwealth. Severe storms, flooding, drought and dangerous heat affect us all. This crisis demands clear action and responsible leadership.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI, will benefit residents all across Massachusetts and beyond as part of a comprehensive approach to reducing carbon emissions. TCI will help protect our environment and health while also improving vital transportation services on which we all depend. 

Transportation pollution, which is responsible for over 40 percent of carbon emissions in the region, harms everyone, but particularly our most vulnerable residents in Environmental Justice communities, children and seniors. At the same time, our aging transportation infrastructure urgently needs new investment to make it more equitable, more reliable and safer.

In addition to reducing carbon emissions, TCI will generate investments in clean transportation alternatives, including those designed to reverse historical trends and advance equitable outcomes in communities that have been underserved by transportation infrastructure or disproportionately impacted by tailpipe emissions.

The ballot question proposed by TCI opponents threatens our environment, our health, and our transportation. But that’s not all. This poorly drafted, overly broad petition could threaten any policy or revenue source designed to eliminate pollution from transportation.  That includes both existing revenue sources and potential future policies which benefit families and communities most burdened by transportation pollution.

We are confident that if this petition makes it onto the ballot, Massachusetts voters will join Governor Baker, other elected officials, civic leaders and advocates in opposing this ballot question, and supporting a bipartisan, regional approach to reducing air pollution while modernizing our transportation system.

2021 Transportation Justice Grants RFP

by Joshua Ostroff

Transportation for Massachusetts is excited to announce a grant opportunity for organizations working on transportation justice across the Commonwealth. We welcome applications until May 28th, 2021.

Transportation Justice is critical to the Commonwealth, and is a central to the mission of our statewide coalition. We must ensure that transportation provides access to opportunity — particularly for historically underserved and disadvantaged populations, and especially now at a time of worsening inequality during COVID-19.

Since 2019, Transportation for Massachusetts has awarded 25 subgrants to help promote transportation justice. This new grant availability will award between 10 and 12 grants of $7,500 to $10,000 in July, 2021 to organizations across Massachusetts. This program is possible because of the generous support of our primary funder, the Barr Foundation.

The grants are intended to promote transportation justice by inviting proposals that build organizational capacity, promote community engagement and advocacy, and/or support projects and programming. 

Recent Transportation Justice grants from T4MA have made an impact across Massachusetts. 

Over the past several years, grants have funded Transit Tours with the Coalition for Social Justice, established transportation coordination with the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation, served accessibility along racially diverse bus lines with the Boston Center for Independent Living, addressed resident health needs with the Madison Park Development Corporation, helped created the Transportation Conversation Series with Mattapan Food and Fitness, and supported the Everybody Bikes campaign with Make it! Springfield. Full details of the RFP, including application materials, Frequently Asked Questions, past grant summaries, and links to an online form are available at t4ma.org/tj_rfp. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 28th at 5 PM. Funds will be available in July, 2021.

Keeping MBTA Riders and Workers Safe While Supporting Economic Recovery

A letter to MBTA General Manager Poftak from 24 organizations, including T4MA

June 24, 2020: Thank you to your entire team at the MBTA for your hard work and quick response during this COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. The MBTA has proven itself as a critical lifeline, allowing essential workers to get to their jobs and enabling thousands of people to access health care, get to the grocery store, and carry out other necessary tasks. The MBTA has always been essential to keeping Massachusetts running; that is true now more than ever.

As Massachusetts begins a phased reopening, we know that safety and public health will be top-of-mind as more riders return to the MBTA. Recent polling by the MassINC Polling Group has shown that this crisis has raised anxiety and fear for many riders about the safety of transit. Those who have a choice might avoid transit for some time. However, many of the MBTA’s core riders do not have other transportation options. We must ensure public transit continues to be safe and reliable for these core riders, and all riders, and for every MBTA employee and partner working to keep the system running. 

The following near-term and longer-term recommendations are intended to both highlight positive steps the MBTA has already undertaken and provide feedback on areas where the MBTA can do more to ensure rider and operator safety, address perceptions that transit is unsafe, and enhance the safety and efficiency of the system. While their focus is public health, these recommendations will also improve the accessibility, equity, safety, and effectiveness of the vital public system that you manage.

Near-term, within the next 1-2 months:

  • Prioritize Frequent and Multilingual Communication. Given the rapidly changing context, we encourage more frequent and direct communication from General Manager Poftak and Secretary Pollack to the public, especially when changes related to public health and service schedules occur. Updates should also be shared with riders in multiple languages and in multiple formats, including online (web, social media, apps), in print (signage and handouts) and audio (announcements on vehicles and at stations). We encourage you to think beyond vehicles, stops, and stations, and to work with municipal and community partners to ensure important information is disseminated at key locations such as grocery stores, health centers, in newspapers, and through other news outlets, especially outlets that do not primarily communicate in English. 
  • Ensure Transparent Communications About Cleaning. The MBTA has been a national leader in adopting best practices to sanitize vehicles during this crisis, but many members of the public are still unaware of these efforts. We recommend enhancing communications regarding the cleaning protocol the MBTA is following and providing real-time updates to riders about when a vehicle or station was last cleaned. One low-tech option for implementing real-time updates about cleaning is to simply add signs on vehicles and in stations where staff can mark the last time these locations were cleaned. This is a well-known method that the public is familiar with and trusts. This transparent method of communication provides accountability and allows riders to feel confident the MBTA is doing what it has promised to keep riders safe and healthy. We also recommend providing more opportunities for riders to communicate concerns about cleaning directly to the MBTA. This could be accomplished by providing a dedicated phone number and webpage where riders can share concerns about unclean or unsafe conditions.
  • Provide Face Coverings to Riders, Especially When Their Use is Mandatory. We fully recognize the constraints the MBTA faces in accessing masks during this time.  But it should be a goal of the agency to provide a face covering to every rider who does not have one. Transit agencies in other large cities, including in Detroit and Philadelphia, are succeeding at providing masks to keep both riders and drivers safe. We support the recent announcement that you will be piloting face-covering dissemination at and along some of the busiest bus and subway stops and lines and hope this work will be expanded in the coming weeks. For many low-income riders, the burden of acquiring or making masks — or other types of face coverings — presents an unnecessary challenge. Providing no-cost face coverings to riders also reduces potential conflict between non-compliant riders, MBTA staff, and Transit Police. Regardless of whether people are or are not wearing masks, the Transit Police should never use its enforcement power to require riders to wear face coverings.
  • Prevent Overcrowding Through Increased Frequency and Responsive Scheduling. Frequency of service is an essential tool in preventing crowding, especially for riders without other transportation choices. While we recommend that the MBTA return to full service as soon as possible, we appreciate that adjustments are necessary to reflect both MBTA employee availability and lower thresholds for crowding, particularly on buses. The sooner the MBTA gets back to full service the better. But full service must also remain flexible. We applaud the MBTA’s quick actions to address crowding and adjust service during the early stages of the stay-at-home advisory and the recent scheduling adjustments to ensure 30% of bus operators schedules are “flexible”, allowing for day-of route adjustments. We recommend that the MBTA build on this adaptive and responsive approach. Similar to actions taken at San Francisco’s Muni, we recommend that the MBTA reallocate resources to provide increased service to best serve Environmental Justice communities and other neighborhoods where transit ridership (especially bus ridership) has stayed relatively high through the public health crisis, even if this means potentially temporarily reducing service in less transit-dependent communities. Many in those communities have continued to make necessary trips throughout the stay-at-home advisory, and they must be prioritized. Further, returning to full service on bus routes serving environmental justice populations with high ridership may not be enough to ensure a reliable service while supporting physical distancing on vehicles. The MBTA must evaluate whether reducing bus headways on such bus routes below the full service schedule is necessary.
  • Rethink Crowding Standards. The crowding standards in place before the COVID-19 pandemic were already inadequate for the comfort and dignity of riders. Now and for the foreseeable future, creating more space for riders on each vehicle is even more critical. We recognize that crowding standards will likely need to evolve throughout the phases of reopening and that many complex factors lead to crowding. Instead of applying a hard cap, the focus should be on providing more information and communication so that operators and riders can make informed choices. We recommend that the MBTA create a “crowding warning” when the number of riders per vehicle reaches a set amount. This warning would prompt operators to notify dispatchers and alert them to the need to increase the frequency of a service. In addition, we recommend the front and rear destination signs show a message noting when a bus is close to or at maximum capacity, allowing riders who can wait for the next bus to make an informed choice. We also recommend utilizing official and third-party apps to note likely busy times so that riders who do have flexibility to adjust their travel times can do so before leaving their homes. This flexible model for managing crowding will only be effective if the above recommendations regarding frequency and responsive scheduling are in place. This is especially important in communities that have been hit hardest, like Chelsea, where overcrowding continues to be a concern.
  • Complete Installation of Driver Shields on All Buses and Trolleys. Providing a physical barrier between bus and trolley operators and their passengers has a multitude of benefits both during this COVID-19 crisis and in the future. Even during regular flu and cold seasons, driver shields help protect bus and trolley operators from exposure to the many riders they encounter daily in close quarters. In addition, the physical barrier can also help keep drivers safe from physical harm. We know the MBTA has already begun working on this, and other transit agencies including San Antonio’s VIA system have successfully installed these barriers in response to COVID-19. The installation of these shields will add a visible marker of the MBTA’s investment in the health and wellbeing of its operators.
  • Encourage Municipalities to Expand Pedestrian Space at Bus Stops and Trolley Stations. There are many MBTA bus stops where there is insufficient space for riders to wait while also leaving enough space for people to pass at a safe distance along the same sidewalk. We recommend that the MBTA share data with municipalities about the busiest bus and trolley stops and provide design assistance to support municipalities in making more space at bus stops by removing adjacent curbside parking spots. In addition, we suggest the MBTA partner with municipalities to add physical distancing markers on the sidewalk to indicate the safest place for people to wait for their bus or trolley.
  • Explore Instituting Passenger Flow in Stations and Platforms. To reduce the number of riders needing to pass by each other on narrow platforms, we recommend testing a uniform flow regarding where riders enter and where they leave busy stations and platforms. If implemented, those who need to use the elevator or other mobility assistance should be exempted from this protocol. The predictability of where to go can provide additional physical distancing space and prevent unexpected closeness with others. These needs must be balanced against the practical realities of station configurations and the need to avoid unnecessary conflict between riders.
  • Implement All-Door Boarding on All MBTA Trolleys and Buses. We support the MBTA’s decision to require rear-door boarding on buses and trolleys as it allows for physical distancing between riders and drivers. As more people are welcomed back onto buses and trolleys in the coming months and assuming drivers have appropriate protective shields, we recommend continuing rear-door boarding — effectively implementing all-door boarding on all buses and trolleys — through Phase 3. This will not only have the public health benefit of spreading out riders, but will also reduce dwell times up to 40 percent and increase transit frequency. These service improvements were demonstrated during the Silver Line all-door boarding pilot in 2017 where variability and dwell time were reduced, thereby shortening passenger trips and dramatically increasing passenger satisfaction.
      
  • Expand the Lynn Commuter Rail Station Pilot to Serve More Communities.  We were very supportive of the brief pilot in May 2020 that allowed riders to pay Zone 1A fares at the Lynn Commuter Rail Station and the announcement of its extension. We recommend an expansion of this pilot at other Commuter Rail stops across the system. Implementing a fare policy that will induce riders to shift from over-burdened bus and subway lines to underutilized commuter rail lines is an innovative way to do more with existing MBTA resources.
  • Allow Bicycles on Commuter Rail and Subway Cars at All Times. During this time of lower ridership, we recommend that the MBTA allow people to bring their bicycles onboard commuter rail and subway cars throughout the day (typically bicycles are only allowed off-peak). This will allow for an easier transition between the first and last mile of trips. 

Longer-term, within one year:

  • Redefine Key Bus Routes With an Equity Lens. Ridership data collected during this time highlights which routes are critical for environmental justice communities, including low-income riders and riders of color, as these are the routes where ridership has not dropped as significantly. We recommend that the MBTA continue to reallocate resources to increase frequency on these routes and redefine these routes as key bus routes where relevant, regardless of their ridership levels. The needs of the people served by these routes are not new or unknown (see 64 Hours: Closing the Bus Equity Gap). Ensuring good and reliable bus service for our most vulnerable communities should be a long-term priority of the MBTA, and shouldn’t end when the immediate public health crisis has abated.   
  • Work with Community and Business Leaders to Reshape Full Service. Before many white-collar employees begin to return to the office, the MBTA has the opportunity to work with business leaders to redefine rush hour. As we have learned from this crisis, remote work and flexible schedules are possible for many more workers than previously considered. The MBTA has already been coordinating with hospitals to adjust service based on employers’ needs. We recommend that the MBTA continue to build on this work to help employers spread out peak service, allowing for a more gradual peak and reduced crowding. In addition, this will benefit employees who don’t follow the 9 to 5 workday, many of whom receive lower wages and are already often traveling on either side of the previous peak hours.
  • Implement a Means-Tested Fare Program. Before COVID-19, many people were struggling to pay their MBTA fares. Now, with significant unemployment and a likely slow recovery, ensuring all people have access to affordable fares is essential. We recommend that the MBTA work with public-sector partners to implement a means-tested fare program to allow people to make essential trips or get to their jobs. We know that the MBTA is wrestling with the many questions of how to deploy this program system-wide in the context of a challenging budget picture. It will be important for the MBTA to work with the Administration and legislature to ensure this program is sustainably funded and does not diminish the MBTA’s ability to provide core service.
  • Increase Frequency of Commuter Rail Trips. More consistent, frequent service will  allow space to be physically distant. The MBTA should identify corridors such as the Fairmount Line and stations such as Roslindale Village where Commuter Rail can relieve pressure on the bus network. The MBTA should work with community partners to do affirmative marketing and provide a way for riders to use their CharlieCard for payments. The MBTA should work with Keolis and labor unions to implement more off-peak trips to better serve essential workers and support mode shift from cars to trains. Additionally, schedule changes to most regions should be coordinated with the Regional Transit Authorities that will then need to alter their respective schedules. 

Thank you for your consideration of these recommendations. We are grateful for your efforts thus far, and we are ready to work with you to ensure the MBTA remains a safe and essential service for residents of the Commonwealth.

Sincerely, 495/MetroWest Partnership
The Alliance for Business Leadership
Allston Brighton Health Collaborative
Alternatives for Community & Environment
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Stepping Strong Injury Prevention Program
Conservation Law Foundation
Environment Massachusetts
Greenroots
Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
John Snow, Inc.
Kendall Square Association
LivableStreets Alliance
Massachusetts Sierra Club
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Massachusetts Public Health Association
MassBike
MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Institute
MASSPIRG
Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Transportation for Massachusetts
Transportation Working Group of 350MA
TransitMatters
WalkBoston

Transportation Justice/TCI Subgrants, Round 2

by Joshua Ostroff

Transportation for Massachusetts has awarded the second round of Transportation Justice/Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) subgrants to 12 organizations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania to support important initiatives promoting equity and environmental justice. T4MA is grateful to the Barr Foundation for their support, and all applicants for their interest. A total of $112,500 was awarded in this funding round. 

Bikes Not Bombs
Jamaica Plain, MA

Bikes Not Bombs will use funding to support their existing Bicyclists Organizing for Community Action (BOCA) program which teaches youth, between the ages of 15-21, about community organizing and advocacy. Bikes Not Bombs also plans to use their award to support critical infrastructure projects, including building a bicycle pump track in Franklin Park.

Coalition for Social Justice
New Bedford, MA

Coalition for Social Justice is continuing their fight for transit justice in Southeastern Massachusetts, with an additional infusion of funding from this round.  They will continue to focus on advocating for RTA funding and are planning to revive the currently defunct organization, Bus Riders United.

Four Corners Main Streets
Dorchester, MA

Four Corners Main Streets plans to use their funding to build a greater community connection between the Four Corners Business District, residents, and the Fairmount/Indigo Line through a placemaking campaign that aims to boost rider engagement.

Green Energy Consumers Alliance
Providence, RI

Green Energy Consumers Alliance is splitting this award with the Latino Policy Institute and the George Wiley Center on two separate, yet interconnected projects relating to TCI in Rhode Island. Green Energy Consumers Alliance and the Latino Policy Institute will focus on legislative advocacy, the Raimondo Administration, and centering equity in TCI. The George Wiley Center and Green Energy Consumers Alliance will work together on the ground to raise awareness about TCI amongst frontline communities, low-income communities, and communities of color.

Madison Park Community Development Corporation
Roxbury, MA

Madison Park Community Development Corporation will use their funding to create a two-part capacity-building workshop for resident leaders. The workshop will start with developing advocacy skills and end with sessions on transportation justice within topics such as active transportation, community benefits, and Complete Streets.

Make It! Springfield
Springfield, MA

Make It! Springfield will be partnering with other area organizations such as Rad Springfield, Jewish Family Services of Western MA, and Pedal Thru Youth to create the Everybody Bikes campaign. This campaign will provide skills relating to advocacy, organizing, and bike mechanics for at-risk youth and refurbished, donated bikes for refugees and low-income residents.

Mattapan Food and Fitness
Mattapan, MA

Mattapan Food and Fitness will create a Transportation Conversation Series that is specific to transportation projects happening within the neighborhoods of Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester. They will be led by Mattapan Food and Fitness, Roxbury Rides, and Powerful Pathways who will weave together the connections between climate change, public health, infrastructure, and ultimately why transportation matters.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit
Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is a grassroots organization who has been active around TCI and involved in multiple regional gatherings. Funding will go to support the hiring of a part-time organizer for their sister organization, the Philly Transit Rider Union, who will focus on TCI and public transit engagement, and creating a statewide transit rider coalition to educate and mobilize riders on TCI.

The Welcome Project
Somerville, MA

The Welcome Project intends to use the funding award to deepen engagement around public health and air quality, particularly given the proximity of the organization and its members to I-93. The organization intends to campaign for better bus service, host community conversations on environmental racism and transportation inequity, and deepen legislative engagement.

Transportation Advocacy Coalition
Worcester, MA

Transportation Advocacy Coalition will continue their post as engaged riders of the WRTA, of which some TAC members sit as Advisory Board Members. They will use their funding to continue monthly meetings, online for the foreseeable future, that include better bus service for the WRTA and paratransit and research on best practices of transit systems similar to Worcester to provide to the RTA.

Way Finders
Springfield, MA

The Way Finders will use their funding to continue their existing Healthy Hill and Climate Change and Health Equity programs and their workshop, Civic Muscle: Empowering Residents for Action. Key issues to be addressed for participants include free fares, green energy, and health and racial equity assessments for large cities. The organization will provide stipends to workshop leaders, who are members of each of the aforementioned workshop and programs.

ZeroFare WRTA Coalition
Worcester, MA

ZeroFare WRTA Coalition is a volunteer-led coalition of bus riders who coalesced around free fares for the WRTA. Their funding will go towards capacity-building, which includes stipends for the two co-chairs and two to-be-identified rider-leaders, meeting expenses, and supporting partner rider-led advocacy groups.

Black Lives Matter.

by Joshua Ostroff

By Chris Dempsey
The T4MA team is horrified by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. His death — like the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other Black men and women due to racism and police brutality — is a sad reminder of injustice in our society. We all have a responsibility to confront that injustice — institutionally, with others, and within ourselves.

Last Tuesday evening, I joined the more than 10,000 people who attended a peaceful protest in Franklin Park organized by Monica Cannon-Grant of Violence in Boston and Black Lives Matter Boston. It was inspiring to see a diverse crowd come together to speak the names of victims of violence in Massachusetts and around the country and to say together that Black Lives Matter. After three months of staying away from people, the protest was a reminder of the power of people coming together in common cause. That experience — and conversations with T4MA’s staff, members, and partners — have led me to reflect on our work at T4MA.

Many of the problems facing our transportation system today in Massachusetts result from racist and discriminatory choices made by past leaders and perpetuated by current ones. For instance, our expansion of highways in the 1940s and 1950s caused displacement and disinvestment in communities that were targeted in racist “redlining” maps of the 1930s. The impacts of those policies remain with us today, residents of these communities subjected to some of the most polluted air in the state. This is just one example of how discriminatory policy lingers and compounds over time. It is futile to try to fix problems in transportation — or other areas of public policy — without talking about and working towards racial justice.

In collaboration with community and advocacy partners, the T4MA coalition fights for changes to the status quo that will address these inequities: bus lanes so that Black bus riders won’t continue to sit on the bus 64 hours longer than their white counterparts, reductions in transportation tailpipe emissions that disproportionately impacts people of color, and properly funding Regional Transit Authorities and the MBTA so that people without access to vehicles (disproportionately households of color in Massachusetts and elsewhere) have the same mobility, access, and economic opportunity enjoyed by anyone else.

But there is more that we can do, and more thoughtful ways to approach how we do it. T4MA’s Executive Committee recently ratified a Transportation Justice Statement that shares our definition of transportation justice and states why we think transportation justice is important to our work as a coalition. We have a long way to go and much more work ahead of us.

We want to be a partner with you in bringing transportation justice to the Commonwealth. A number of T4MA’s Members and allies have shared statements, commitments and action for constructive change in the wake of George Floyd’s death, and we include some of their messages here:

Thank you for reading, and for your commitment to the work ahead.

The House Transportation Debate

The Massachusetts House of Representatives is set to debate legislation to reform and revitalize transportation in Massachusetts. The T4MA coalition thanks the Representatives whose important work will be discussed and decided this week. Here’s a brief summary of where we are, and what is on the table. 

The Timeline

The House introduced two bills last Wednesday: H4508 is the House transportation revenue bill, and H4506 is the House version of the Governor’s transportation bond bill, authorizing new transportation spending.

Amendments to both bills were due Friday, February 29 and are posted online: Revenue Bill Amendments | Bond Bill Amendments

Debate is scheduled for this Wednesday (3/4) on H4508 (Revenue), and Thursday (3/5) for H4506 (Bond Bill) and could spill into Friday. Debate will be streamed at malegislature.gov.

Our coalition is encouraging people to participate in direct advocacy from Monday morning through Wednesday morning using this link: t4ma.org/takeaction.

After the House votes these bills, the Senate will take them up with its own process. All action on these bills, including either the Governor’s signature or an override of a veto, must occur before July 31st, 2020.

Transportation Revenue Bill

The House bill proposes a small, five-cent increase in the State gasoline tax, and a nine cent increase in the diesel fuel tax. It increases fees charge for ride hailing services (Uber/Lyft), with incentives for shared rides. In addition, the legislation closes a rental car sales tax loophole, and raises revenue through changes to the Corporate Minimum Tax. The House bill creates a commission to explore solutions to our worst-in-the-nation roadway congestion. These are all good ingredients for solving our transportation crisis. The legislation also proposes to reduce the gas tax to offset possible increases in fuel prices through the Transportation and Climate Initiative.

Our statement on this legislation:

February 26, 2020 — We thank the House for their leadership on addressing our statewide transportation crisis. This proposal is a step forward and enables new, needed investments, including dedicating funding to public transit across the Commonwealth. We look forward to this proposal advancing through the legislative process, where we will work to strengthen the final bill to further advance equitable and efficient transportation for all Massachusetts residents.

In the upcoming debate, we encourage State Representatives to raise urgently needed new revenue to solve our transportation crisis, to tackle our urgent climate and congestion challenges, and to serve the interests of the entire state by investing in better transportation choices.

Amendments

A number of amendments will be debated on the floor of the House this week. In general, T4MA supports amendments that raise or retain revenue for our transportation system. We oppose amendments that would reduce available revenue for investment.

While there are many worthy amendments that members will debate, our top three priorities are amendments that strengthen the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), reduce congestion through roadway pricing, and provide tools to cities and towns through regional ballot initiatives (RBIs). These amendments include:

  • TCI: Amendments to H4508 #32 and #37 (Rep. Ciccolo)
  • Congestion: Amendments to H4508 #12 (Rep. Peisch) and #81 (Rep. Madaro)
  • RBIs: Amendment #273 to H4506 (Rep. Vargas) and Amendment #38 to H4508 (Rep. Pignatelli)  

Coalition Priorities

We strongly support new revenue to improve transportation all across Massachusetts. In particular, we believe it is important to raise revenue that is directly tied to transportation and that encourages fewer vehicle miles traveled, reduces carbon emissions, encourages public transportation, walking, and cycling, and reduces roadway congestion.

We support investments that include expanded Regional Transit Authority service, accelerated investment in public transit, complete streets and safer biking and walking routes, and getting our roads and bridges into a state of good repair.

You can read about our policy priorities here.

Please Take Action!

To make it easy for constituents to contact their State Representative, T4MA uses an online tool that takes just a few minutes to complete, and may be customized to reflect individual priorities.  Please use this link to let your State Reps know that We Can Fix This.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative, Explained

Cross-posted with the Union of Concerned Scientists and authored by Dan Gatti, UCS Policy Analyst.


Twelve states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic along with DC are proposing to invest billions every year for the next decade in clean transportation under a new policy framework released today by the Transportation and Climate Initiative (or “TCI”).

TCI is a collaboration of twelve states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. Together the states of the TCI region represent a population of 72 million people with a GDP larger than any country other than the United States and China.

These states are collaborating to solve some of the common challenges they face when it comes to climate change and transportation. Transportation is the largest source of pollution in most of the TCI states, responsible for 44% of global warming emissions in the region.  Our cars are trucks are also a leading source of particulate matter pollution that causes thousands of asthma attacks and preventable deaths each year.

Beyond emissions, our transportation infrastructure is old and vulnerable to climate change. Our public transportation systems, which are the lifeblood of many communities in the Northeast, are underfunded and overcrowded.  Moreover, traffic congestion is becoming a crisis in many TCI states.

The framework and accompanying modeling released by the states today indicates that the states are considering a program that could invest up to $68 billion over the next ten years to address the climate crisis and other challenges facing transportation. About half of this money would go towards electric vehicles, including not only cars but also heavy-duty vehicles such as transit buses and truck fleets. The program would also fund billions in improvements in public transportation and improved bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

The state would pay for this investment in clean transportation by imposing a market-based limit on pollution, a policy model known as cap and invest.

What Is Cap And Invest?

Cap and invest is a strategy designed to enforce limits on emissions from a broad range of sources and invest in programs that transition our economy away from fossil fuels.

Enforcing limits on a range of sources as broad as transportation or power plants is inherently difficult. There are 52 million vehicles operating in TCI states. Almost all of these vehicles operate using petroleum-based fuel, primarily diesel and gasoline. That’s a lot of sources of pollution! We need a policy that can take on the challenge of addressing the aggregate emissions of all of these sources, and making sure the total amount emitted goes down every year.

Under the proposed TCI program, the states would set an overall limit of pollution, starting at around 254 million metric tons per year in 2022. Transportation fuel distributors would be required to purchase allowances based on their emissions in auctions run by the states. The total number of allowances offered would go down each year, which ensures that overall emissions go down.

The TCI proposal builds on a model that has been successful in reducing carbon emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region from power plants. All of the states in TCI either participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (or “RGGI”) or are in the process of joining the program.

Together with additional policies and the transition away from coal, RGGI has helped Northeast states achieve dramatic reductions in pollution from electricity, putting the region on track for a 65% reduction in electricity emissions by 2030. In addition, RGGI has helped fund a wide variety of important investments in efficiency and clean energy. These investments have saved consumers money, reduced emissions and created new business opportunities in RGGI states.

TCI represents the effort by these states to expand and enhance this framework into transportation.

What Does The Draft Agreement Say?

The draft documents are the first look at how states are considering some of the central questions of cap and invest policy design: how stringent should the cap be, what will the price of allowances be, how much funding will we generate, and how should we use the resources.

The modeling indicates that states are considering a range of options for overall cap stringency. In the strongest scenario, the TCI states would aim for a cap that would limit emissions by 25% of 2005 levels by 2032. The states calculate that would require an allowance price of about $22 per ton in 2022, which would raise about $5.6 billion per year for the region. The weakest scenario calls for a carbon price of only $6 per ton and achieves far smaller benefits.

The overall impact on drivers will be modest. Even if fuel companies passed on the entire cost to consumers, the average driver would pay less than $10 per month in the most stringent scenario.

The TCI states are not contemplating a program that would impose such a high price on carbon that it would cause dramatic changes in transportation behavior. Instead, the TCI states are committing to the more modest goal of establishing a carbon price that would provide enough money to invest in clean transportation solutions. The TCI modeling clearly demonstrates that for the program to work effectively, TCI states must invest the funds from the program in clean transportation solutions that will efficiently reduce emissions.

Note that in all of these scenarios, states assume that transportation emissions will be higher than our economy-wide commitments to reduce global warming pollution. For example, all the New England states have committed to economy-wide reductions between 35 percent and 45 percent by 2030. Further, the fuels covered by this program do not include aviation fuels or marine fuel oil, which together contribute about 18 percent of overall transportation emissions. States will need to make significant additional progress in other sectors such as electricity to make up for the relatively slow pace of transportation.

UCS has conducted analysis that indicates that even greater emission reductions are cost-effective and technically feasible. Our analysis showed that an investment in clean vehicles and clean fuels alone could achieve a reduction in emissions in the region by 37% by 2030, with additional reductions possible through strategies to reduce total vehicle miles travelled.

Still, achieving a 25% reduction would represent a major improvement over the past ten years, which has seen transportation emissions growing in most Northeast states. We recognize the value of establishing a program framework now with the broadest possible set of states. The program we commit to today can be made stronger over the next decade during program review.

What Are The Benefits Of The Program?

The data released by the states shows that TCI would create a transportation system that is cleaner and more efficient.  This program could improve public health, increase personal disposable income, improve public safety and grow the economy.  Specifically, the states modeling shows that TCI could:

  • Improve public health by up to $10 billion per year. The public health benefits of TCI include reduced exposure to air pollution, improved physical fitness and greater public safety. Together these investments are expected result in over 1,000 fewer premature deaths per year, in addition to preventing over 1,300 asthma attacks and 1,700 fewer traffic injuries.
  • Save consumers a net of $4.85 billion. Clean transportation technologies such as electric vehicles provide significant cost savings compared to gasoline vehicles. Like RGGI and unlike a gas tax, TCI should produce significant net savings for consumers.
  • Increase regional GDP by $5.59 billion and create up to 25,000 jobs. Reduced spending on imported gasoline means more money for consumers to spend in the local economy. That means more jobs and a more resilient economy for the region.

Can Cap And Invest Programs Reduce Emissions In Environmental Justice Communities?

Transportation pollution impacts all of us, but some communities face a greater burden than others. People who live near ports or congested highways are exposed to high levels of particulate matter pollution that is harmful to human health. A UCS analysis this year found that communities of color in the Northeast are exposed to 66% more pollution from transportation than majority white communities.

One valid concern that has been raised about market-based programs like RGGI and TCI is that the cap mechanism can only limit total emissions. It can’t guarantee pollution reduction in any specific community. A cap on transportation emissions is not a sufficient strategy to protect environmental justice populations from transportation pollution. TCI states must consider additional approaches to ensure that pollution reductions occur in heavily impacted communities.

But the proposed program is more than a cap, and it’s the investments that can ensure reduced transportation emissions and can create more clean transportation choices in environmental justice communities if designed correctly. California law requires that 35 percent of all funds generated by their program to be invested in environmental justice communities. These funds have helped communities install electric buses, helped low-income Californians finance electric vehicles, improved rail and bus service throughout the state and built affordable housing near public transportation. If TCI states adopt a similar mandate, we could provide up to $24 billion for clean transportation projects in environmental justice communities over the next decade.

We encourage states to establish an open transparent process to determine how to best use TCI funds to ensure that environmental justice communities are prioritized as part of the transition to clean transportation. This will require states to think carefully about how we best define and target resources towards the communities that most need clean transportation.

Isn’t This Just A Gas Tax?

Opponents of RGGI labeled it a tax from the beginning, and opponents of TCI are now making the same claim: that TCI is just a gas tax in disguise.

Courts have consistently rejected this argument. A gas tax is a user fee designed to require people who use our transportation system to pay for maintaining and improving the system. A gas tax often funds investments that help people drive more and use more gas.  The requirement that an oil company purchase an allowance from under a cap is a key strategy to enforce our climate laws. The funding generated from TCI is not meant to maintain the status quo but to make investments in a clean modern transportation system that moves away from petroleum-based fuels.

The public understands the difference between an environmental regulation and a gas tax. Polling released this week shows support for TCI at 66 percent, considerably higher than support for the gas tax. Separate polling focused on rural communities demonstrated support as high as 70 percent, with majorities of rural voters willing to pay up to $10 per month to support clean transportation.

What Happens Next?

The release of this agreement will set off an intense period of negotiation between the states.

Over the next two months, states will take public comment on the Draft MOU and the modeling results. They will then have to make a decision on where to set the cap, in addition to other critical program design questions such as a potential floor price for allowances, cost containment mechanisms, equity provisions and the process for program review.

After that, states will need to make final decisions about what states decide to participate. The current plan calls for states to decide whether they are in or out by the spring of 2020.

If you care about modernizing our outdated transportation system and moving towards clean transportation, and you want to see states make progress tackling this significant source of emissions, especially for those communities bearing the greatest pollution burden, this would be a great time to reach out to your Governor and say so.

T4MA Statement on MBTA Board Leadership on Regional Rail and Buses

Transportation for Massachusetts applauds the leadership of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board for adopting a series of forward-looking resolutions to transform the commuter rail and bus networks.

The Board supported a transition to a fully electrified, accessible, high-frequency regional rail network, with a more equitable fare structure, with phased-in service prioritizing Electric Multiple Units on selected lines, enactment of state legislation to help implement the next generation of rail with Public-Private Partnerships, and establishing a dedicated MBTA office to guide regional rail transformation.

The Board also supported creation of an MBTA bus transformation office, recognizing the essential role that bus service provides to the MBTA region.

“We thank the FMCB for its energetic and visionary approach to modernizing our public transportation network. The Board was clearly listening to the Rail Vision Advisory Committee and to the many advocates and municipal leaders who are demanding better service,” said Josh Ostroff, T4MA Partnerships DIrector, who served on the Rail Vision Advisory Committee. “We also thank the Board for insisting that bus service is an equally high priority for the MBTA. That being said, we cannot have a credible long-term vision for transportation without bold action to fund it. Our economy, our climate, and our future demand that the Legislature take action on appropriately and adequately funding transportation this session.”

The Future of Transportation Caucus has Launched

A new Congressional caucus, led by Massachusetts’ own Ayanna Pressley, is advocating for forward-looking transportation policy at just the right moment. Representative Pressley (D-MA) this week joined Jesus Garcia (D-IL), and Mark Takano (D-CA) in establishing the Future of Transportation Caucus to focus federal policy and legislation on solving our urgent transportation and climate challenges with better public transit and active transportation, not exacerbating them by promoting highway expansion. 

Massachusetts advocates for smarter transportation were on hand for the launch of the Caucus on Thursday, October 17, including Transportation for Massachusetts, Livable Streets Alliance, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, Bikes Not Bombs, Alternatives for Community and Environment, and the Boston Cyclists Union.

The group of advocates held meetings with Congresswoman Pressley, Congressman Kennedy III, and congressional staff to several other members of the Massachusetts Senate and House delegations. Stacy Thompson from Livable Streets gave remarks at the caucus launch, and contributed to a Boston Globe joint op-ed with Congresswoman Pressley and Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu celebrating the newly-formed caucus. 

stacy1.png

Stacy Thompson speaks at the caucus launch. Behind her (l-r) Representatives Takano, Garcia, and Pressley. (Photo Credit: Transportation for America)

The new caucus is receiving technical support from our friends at Transportation for America (T4A), who have recently released transportation reauthorization principles. Last month, T4MA wrote about the latest with transportation policy on the federal level, and earlier in the year we sent this letter to our federal delegation.

The common thread through the goals of the caucus, T4A’s work, and T4MA’s federal advocacy is that it’s not just about funding–it’s about the outcomes that result from transportation funding and how best to serve community needs. The current federal transportation legislation, the FAST Act, expires in 2020, so Congress will be debating a replacement over the next year.

“This new initiative will help focus federal transportation efforts on solving real-world problems,” says Charlie Ticotsky, Policy Director of T4MA, who attended the caucus launch and capitol meetings. “We must address our climate crisis, for which transportation is a leading contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. We must make transportation more just and equitable so that it provides access to opportunity, and we must focus on transit investments that move the most people, while prioritizing highway maintenance over new construction.”

ayanna1.png

Massachusetts-based transportation advocates with Representative Pressley

JK31.png

Massachusetts-based transportation advocates with Representative Kennedy III

Federal Transportation Policy Update

A significant portion of transportation spending in Massachusetts relies on federal dollars, which support roads, bridges, MBTA, RTAs, and more. It is essential for Massachusetts, and every state, that federal dollars continue coming in. However, federal funding for transportation largely supports roads, rather than transit, walking, and biking. Advocates that care about sustainable transportation must look for ways to push Congress to do better. Transportation contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector, with levels continuing to rise, so a bill of this scale should prioritize lowering greenhouse gas emissions and reducing vehicle-miles traveled, while focusing on maintenance of existing road and bridge assets over expansions.

Federal transportation spending is authorized every few years, and some spending is then appropriated on a year-to-year basis. Authorization bills also include significant transportation policy changes. The authorization bill currently in effect, the FAST Act, is due to expire in September 2020.

While an extension (or multiple extensions) are very likely to punt the issue past the 2020 election, Congress has begun working on a new authorization bill. The first proposal, titled America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) of 2019, came out in late July from the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. Three other Senate committees have jurisdiction over other parts of the authorization process (Finance, Banking, and Commerce committees), and the House has its own process as well. 

While AITA has some positive highlights and new programs, including a first-ever climate section, the vast majority of the bill is a continuation of the status quo of a car-centric transportation policy. Formulaic increases to road budgets dwarf the combined size of new programs that promote sustainability.

The national advocacy group Transportation for America has expressed similar concerns. As their Director Beth Osbourne said, these new programs “will be undercut by substantial funding increases for high-speed roadways in the base formulas without any additional constraints to improve safety.”

In addition to this continuation of the status quo, the bill would authorize spending at a level well above available dollars in the highway trust fund, with no clear path to close that gap. T4MA would support increasing the federal gas tax, which was last increased in 1993. Conversely, we would have serious concerns if this authorization is paid for using general funds and debt, one-time cost offsets, or other creative accounting gimmicks

Here are some quick facts  about the ATIA: 

  • It authorizes $287 billion over five years, a 27% increase over the FAST Act.
  • 90% of the bill is formula funds to states, using the same formulas as the FAST Act. 
  • New programs and provisions, includingmany positive steps that do not fundamentally change the overall impact of the bill:
    • Carbon Reduction Incentive Program, a formula-based program and a small competitive grant program for states that can be spent in a variety of ways including traffic monitoring systems, high-occupancy vehicle lanes, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), car-sharing, telecommuting, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, street light efficiency, and diesel-to-electric retrofits of public transportation vehicles. As a positive step, this program cannot result in new single-occupancy-vehicle capacity.
    • A Federal working group on integrating electric vehicles into the federal vehicle fleet
    • Funding for electric-vehicle charging and infrastructure grants.
    • A congestion relief program, supporting a variety of worthy investments including high-occupancy-toll lanes, parking pricing programs, congestion pricing, and carpooling incentives
    • An Accessibility Data Pilot Program, providing states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) with data and training to improve transportation planning by measuring the level of access via multiple transportation modes to key destinations for jobs, education, health, child care, and food sources.
    • The Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) grant program, including both formula and discretionary funds for resilience, coastal infrastructure, and evacuation routes. 
    • A community connectivity pilot program, providing federal funds to help restore connections that were lost due to past highway construction, an all-too common occurrence in American cities in the past 60 years. 
    • Continued and expanded federal efforts to encourage states to pilot and test implementation of mileage-based user fees.
    • Updates and expansions of the TIFIA loan program, a valuable credit assistance tool
    • ATIA also codifies the “one decision” executive order to speed up federal permitting
    • Finally, the bill makes wildlife-vehicle collision research newly eligible for funding.

Our friends at the Coalition for Smarter Transportation have helpfully posted online the text of the bill, summary, and additional resources here: http://www.smartertransportation.org/fast-act-re-authorization-resource-center/

The next year may be important for federal transportation policy, and we will work with our federal delegation and partners to make sure that this legislation truly moves us forward. Please contact T4MA’s Policy Director Charlie Ticotsky for more information.

Why Tolling Is Key to Boston’s Transportation Future

In Backing Change, Real Estate Community Can Help Move State Beyond Gridlock

Reprinted with permission from Banker & Tradesman

Congestion is holding back Greater Boston from its full economic potential – and the consequences go far beyond just the time we waste stuck in gridlock on our roads.  

Traffic is intricately tied to another of the region’s problems: the high cost of housing and the difficulty of building new housing in many communities in eastern Massachusetts. At nearly every public meeting on new development, officials and developers hear comments from nearby residents that the proposed project is going to create more traffic and that, because of that traffic, the project should be smaller than proposed, or perhaps shelved entirely.  

Neighborhood frustration with traffic is understandable given that Greater Boston’s congestion was recently deemed “worst traffic in the country” by the traffic data firm INRIX. But the result of all that gridlock is that our region gets less housing and growth, and higher housing costs that we all pay in the form of higher mortgages and rents. 

Of course, we also pay for traffic itself. The average driver in Greater Boston wastes over $2,200 every year just sitting in traffic. That’s a function of lost time, wasted fuel and the higher cost of goods throughout society – groceries and other consumer goods cost more when they are delayed from getting to the store.  

A household of two drivers spends $380 every month just on traffic congestion, on top of a car payment, parking, and regular fuel costs. All of this waste has a profound impact on our region’s livability, workability and quality of life. 

Transportation Needed for Growth 

As housing prices in the city continue to skyrocket and ever-longer commute times into Boston from our transit–clogged suburbs are just not an option, at some point residents will question whether they see an affordable, sustainable future for themselves in the region. The uncertainties of public transit and increased drive times make the proposition of moving further out to more affordable housing options a scary one for many.  

According to the Massachusetts Area Planning Council, “more than 400,000 new housing units – mostly multifamily, and mostly in urban areas – will be needed by the year 2040 if the region is to keep growing its economic base.” With Boston only biting off 10 percent of this number, we will heavily rely on our regional economy to sustain our growing future.   

If our roads, buses and subways cannot move people effectively and efficiently around our interconnected region, we will choke on our own success. If we fail to move beyond the status quo of single-occupancy vehicles and underfunded transportation, we risk losing an entire generation of homeowners, renters and workers to other more affordable and sustainable regional economies.  

We need to act now to build the modern and convenient transportation system our region needs and deserves. 

Other Cities Found Solutions 

There are a few tools that we can deploy to alter the equation that says more growth must equal more traffic. One tool is “transit-oriented development,” which means building on and around locations that are well-served by public transit. Another tool is incorporating walking and biking investments into new developments, so that residents and tenants have more options for how to get around. Massachusetts has made good progress on both of these tools in the last few decades, though with much more work to do. 

One tool that Massachusetts doesn’t use, but that is used by peer regions around the country, is “congestion pricing” or “smarter tolling.” The idea is to provide incentives to drivers to shift the times of their trips, or to not make the trip at all, in favor of taking transit. Of the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, Greater Boston is the only one that does not use some form of smarter tolling. Putting a fair value on a scarce resource – in this case, pavement at rush hour – can help relieve our worst-in-the-nation traffic problem and funnel needed dollars towards our inadequate transit system.  

Competitor regions like Seattle have added tens of thousands of jobs in their inner core without increasing downtown traffic thanks to market-based roadway incentives. When Seattle implemented smarter tolling on the SR 520 Bridge, which has similarities to the Tobin Bridge, traffic on the bridge dropped 34 percent, while bus ridership on the bridge went up 38 percent. Our region has been slow to embrace this reform despite the fact that the Federal Highway Administration has said that congestion pricing is the single most effective tool at reducing and relieving congestion.  

The real estate community needs to speak clearly and loudly on the need for deploying all the tools in the toolbox to reduce traffic on our roads. Now is an opportunity to advocate for meaningful, statewide transportation reform, including using tolling as a tool to reduce congestion on key commuting corridors. It could determine whether new housing and space for our growing economy gets moving, or just stalls out. 


Chris Dempsey is the director of Transportation for Massachusetts. Jonathan Berk is the founder of the consulting firm BuildingBOS and New England Director of the civic crowdfounding platform Patronicity.

RTAs: Now is the Time for Progress

Guest Blog by Pat Beaudry of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

At a time when we are mobilizing to reduce tailpipe pollution and carbon emissions, what would another 30 million annual car trips mean for our air quality and climate crisis? And how would these 30 million additional car trips impact our already chronically congested roads?

We can thank the Commonwealth’s fifteen regional transit authorities (RTAs), which provide bus service outside of the MBTA service area, for helping to ensure that our climate and congestion problems are not getting worse. But RTAs can do so much more for Massachusetts. While the FY 2020 state budget just signed into law prevents RTA service cuts for the first time in years, we should be aiming much higher than just holding on to the status quo.

During this period of economic prosperity, in one of the strongest states in the country, we must ask ourselves this: if we won’t make the investments now to ensure we are doing our level-best to combat economic inequality, congestion, and climate crisis, when will we?

In communities outside of Greater Boston, RTAs serve as a lifeline for those who are unable to own, maintain, or operate a personal vehicle, or for those who prefer public transit. Our RTAs are independently run by local advisory boards and funded by farebox revenue, local government contributions, advertising, state assistance, and federal support.

Serving hundreds of communities across the Commonwealth, RTAs ensure students are able to get to class, patients are able to get to medical appointments, low-income workers are able to get to their jobs on time, and seniors and people with disabilities are able to lead active, fulfilling lives. Consistent with the very idea of a commonwealth, it matters to each of us that we all have convenient, safe, affordable and environmentally-clean transportation choices – regardless of which modes we personally choose to use. We need everyone to get where they need to go.

And we all need better options than we have today. This is true for everyone who uses our inadequate transit, congested roads, and unsafe bike/pedestrian routes. Our entire system, it seems, needs an upgrade, including bus service in the state’s far-flung cities and towns.

Of all the things we need to fix, public transit comes first. It’s why the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Transportation made better public transit the top recommendation in Choices for Stewardship, its 2018 landmark report: 

  • Prioritize investment in public transit as the foundation for a robust, reliable, clean, and efficient transportation system.

Public transit moves the greatest number of people in the most efficient manner. The answer includes the MBTA – but it likewise includes the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Worcester RTA, Southeast RTA, Cape Cod RTA, Merrimack Valley RTA, Greater Attleboro-Taunton, Brockton, and more.

RTAs, just like the roads and bridges drivers use every day, are dependent on public support. And the reality is that they need more than what they’re currently getting.

With credit to legislators, this year, after three consecutive years of service cuts, RTAs are finally stabilized in the state budget, with a level of funding that removes the need for public hearings to eliminate routes and hike fares.

But here’s the reality: while state funding allowed RTAs to avoid a third round of cuts in as many years, the $87 million in base funding level still requires RTAs to dip into their capital improvements budgets to make operating ends meet. Seeing firsthand how delaying state of good repair work has impacted the MBTA should make it clear how that approach is not sustainable.

RTAs also need a mandate to innovate, and like every government service, they need accountability. A recent statewide task force convened by MassDOT, including prominent legislators and local leaders recognized that accountability, innovation and funding are all necessary. A Vision for the Future of Massachusetts’ Regional Transit Authorities identified the steps we need to take to fulfill the promise of public transit throughout out state.

So what’s next? This fall, legislative leaders have signaled that transportation revenue is on the table. Whatever outcome is reached needs to include the regional public transportation agencies that serve our workforce, our students, and all others who choose to use it. The tools are in place. Let’s put them to use!


Pat Beaudry is Manager of Public Affairs at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, a T4MA Coalition Member

The Transportation & Climate Initiative Comes to Massachusetts

The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is gaining steam. As part of a series of workshops that are free and open to the public, on April 30th, the nine states (plus Washington, D.C.) participating in TCI brought together about 200 regional leaders, advocates, academics, and members of the public at the Boston Public Library to discuss how to make transportation in the northeast and mid-Atlantic cleaner, more efficient, and more equitable.

workshop_audience.jpg

While technical in nature, this event had passion and energy to match the urgency of the challenges we face. You can watch the livestream recording of the proceedings at the event page. TCI is coordinated by the Georgetown Climate Center.

TCI is moving ahead, thanks to leadership from Governor Baker and fellow Governors across the region, including their commitment in December 2018 to work together on designing a regional, market-based solution to transportation carbon emissions by the end of 2019. The states seem to be aligning on a “cap and invest” regulatory structure similar to the regional program already in place for electricity generation, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Participating states would require transportation fuel importers and wholesalers to purchase permits or allowances to offset the pollution that fuel creates. The proceeds from those sales would be invested in cleaner transportation systems.

The April 30 workshop featured several expert panels with the goal of bringing stakeholders across many states up to speed, while encouraging questions and dialogue across a range of perspectives.

Here’s what we learned.

Lee-ACE.png

There were strong views expressed on the topic of equity, including by T4MA Executive Committee member Lee Matsueda of Alternatives for Community and Environment. It is not enough to create a market mechanism for reducing carbon emissions that create disproportionate harm; in designing cap and invest, we must focus on the needs of communities that have also suffered from historic transportation inequity. 


Estimated_Health_and_Climate_Effects.jpg

Our transportation status quo perpetuates deep inequities. The data shows that low-income communities and communities of color suffer the most from transportation-related air pollution, and we need to bring urgency and equity in our policy responses.


TCI_by_Fuel_Type.jpg

It’s well understood that we have a climate crisis, and that the transportation sector is the largest source of carbon emissions. Reducing emissions from motor vehicles is a necessity if we are to meet targets for mitigating climate change.


Addressing_the_Climate_Crisis.jpg

There are enormous economic gains to be realized by a reduction in carbon emissions and co-pollutants such as nitrous oxide, and by investment in public transit and active transportation. The goals of cap and invest are achievable, and have been demonstrated in Quebec and California, both of which have cap-and-invest systems for transportation.


Recommended_Fuel_Coverage.jpg

The transportation fuels supply stream in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region is complex, but there are practical options for points of regulation that would add minimal economic burden. The experience of the California Air Resources Board is helpful in understanding how another region has addressed the regulation of transportation-based carbon emissions.


5_goals_of_healthy_transpo_systems.jpg

Statistical modeling of a potential cap-and-invest program is important to understand the projected effects of this program, and the use of models and tools will be essential to ensure learning by the TCI states. These effects include GHG emission reductions, substantial impacts on health, changes to traffic and congestion, local economic outcomes, and differences between urban and rural communities.


Where do we go from here? An upcoming workshop on May 15 in Newark, NJ, will focus on equity considerations for TCI. Further workshops and public engagement are planned in the coming months. These are exciting steps in a process that we hope will lead to significant carbon reduction, better air quality, and improved transportation options for tens of millions of Americans from Virginia to Maine.

T4MA awards grants to support Transportation Justice and the Transportation and Climate Initiative

Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) today announced the awarding of $120,000 in funding to 10 organizations focused on transportation justice and the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) across Massachusetts, as well as in Vermont and Maryland. The grants will help move transportation equity initiatives from concept to practice and promote transportation justice.

Access to transportation is an issue that affects people from all walks of life, but disproportionately limits opportunities for communities of color, people of lower-income, people with disabilities, seniors, and rural populations. These vulnerable populations rely on transportation to get to school, job opportunities, doctor’s appointments, and family activities. The grants awarded will directly support organizations – which are often under-resourced and under-funded – that advocate for improving transportation access for these populations.

“On behalf of our coalition, thanks to all who applied for this funding for the work you are doing to provide transportation solutions that help improve outcomes for people and communities,” said Angela Johnson, Transportation Justice Organizer at T4MA.

The following organizations are receiving grants for work in 2019 between $5,000 and $10,000:

  • Arise for Social Justice, in support of its strong youth organizing and vehicle-idling campaigns
  • Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, in support of the build out of its multi-stakeholder volunteer driving program, “Transportation Resource Unification Towards Health”
  • Boston Center for Independent Living, in support of deepening grassroots organizing for People with Disabilities in Boston’s neighborhoods of color on the issues of Transportation Network Companies, i.e. Uber/Lyft, RIDE access, and other emerging modes
  • Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, in support of incorporating TCI in the “Get Maryland Moving” coalition work in advance of the Maryland Transportation Administration’s Regional Transit Plan
  • Community Health Network for North Central Mass (CHNA 9), in support of designing a ridesharing/carpooling pilot for Mount Wachusett Community College students who have limited transportation options
  • Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, in support of community organizing in advance of the deployment of the MBTA’s Automated Fare Collection 2.0 (AFC 2.0) initiative
  • Green Hill Neighborhood Association, in support of community-led traffic studies and bicycle/pedestrian assessments for Worcester’s Lincoln Street corridor 
  • Green Justice Coalition, in support of leading environmental justice strategic discussions for the Transportation and Climate Initiative
  • GreenRoots, Inc., in support of launching a multi-stakeholder MBTA riders’ network, which will focus on transportation justice issues such as fare mitigation, AFC 2.0, and RIDE access
  • Vermont Natural Resources Council, in support of capacity-building and outreach to bolster messaging around the Transportation and Climate Initiative

TJ-TCI_grants.png

Eight of the ten grant recipients are Massachusetts-based, and are focused on deepening engagement with residents who lack access to convenient, affordable, and reliable transportation options. The Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance will strengthen their advocacy in a new, multi-state effort to expand research and knowledge of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which the T4MA coalition has identified as a key issue in 2019 and 2020. Reducing carbon emissions from transportation is a top priority of T4MA. The transportation sector is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and is a significant source of local air pollution that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities.

T4MA announced the application process for this inaugural round of grants to organizations in November 2018. T4MA received more than 50 unique proposals from organizations across Massachusetts, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Applicants were invited to submit proposals under four cross-cutting categories: Capacity Building; Projects and Programming; Community Engagement and Advocacy; and TCI.

Transportation for Massachusetts is committed to transportation justice, recognizing that historic underinvestment in low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color has led to negative impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods. Even well-intended transportation policy can reinforce transportation injustice and lead to displacement when it is not grounded in the community’s needs, aspirations, and civic fabric. T4MA is committed to advancing transportation options, including public transportation, to help reverse racial and economic disparities in Massachusetts.

This grant was made possible through a generous donation from the Barr Foundation.


About T4MA

Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) is a diverse coalition of more than 70 member and partner organizations with a stake in improving transportation across the Commonwealth. Our coalition advocates at the state, federal, and local levels for transportation policies that are innovative, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. We want a transportation system that strengthens our economy and our communities, while also being safer, healthier, more affordable and reliable.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name