Policy Priorities

Automated Enforcement for Bus Lanes, Bus Stops, School Buses, and School Zones

T4MA is championing policy to introduce and enact automated camera enforcement measures for bus lanes, bus stops, school buses and school zones. Despite facing challenges, we’re determined to drive progress forward.

Hundreds of thousands rely on MBTA bus service daily, yet vehicles obstructing bus lanes and stops cause delays and unreliability. While transit priority measures improve service, bus mounted cameras paired with fixed bus stop cameras can help ensure that bus lanes and bus stops remain unobstructed. The MBTA’s Transit Priority Vision aims to expand transit lanes, but without camera enforcement those efforts fall short.

In a November 2022 test, over 1,000 vehicles obstructed a one-mile bus-only lane on Huntington Ave, highlighting the urgent need for action. Automated enforcement, like EZ-Pass cameras, offers a proven solution but current laws lack the authority for enforcement.

We support proposed legislation that aims to:

  • Define driving or obstructing bus lanes as traffic violations.
  • Establish fines for operating in a bus lane or parking at a bus stop.
  • The bill provides privacy protections and provisions for retention and destruction of data, redaction of individual faces and vehicle contents as well as access to data by police only through a warrant. (IE: Once the fine is paid, within 30 days the video records will be deleted and police can only access the recordings with a warrant).

Benefits to MBTA riders are substantial:

  • Improved speed and reliability: Programs in San Francisco reduced transit delays by 3 to 20 percent.
  • Increased safety: In New York, routes with automated bus lane enforcement have had 25% fewer crashes over the 4 years that their bus mounted camera program has been in operation.
  • Greater accessibility: During a pilot program in 2023, Philadelphia tracked 2 bus routes for 70 days, recording 32,000 violations for bus stop obstruction.

RTA Advancement Bill

T4MA continues to fight for adequate funding through the annual state budget process and we are also urging the legislature to pass H.3272/S.2277, An act to increase regional transit accessibility in the Commonwealth also known as the RTA Advancement Bill. 

This bill implements key recommendations from the 2019 Task Force Report on RTA Performance and Funding including:

  • Ensuring minimum, adequate and sustainable funding for RTAs;
  • Prioritizing RTA service improvements through an annual RTA Council report; and
  • Ending the use of farebox recovery ratios as a performance metric for transit agencies.

These policy changes will ensure long term sustainability for the Commonwealth’s 15 RTAs to better serve residents who rely on transit to get where they need to go.

MBTA Safety Oversight

In response to findings from an FTA safety review highlighting deficiencies in the Department of Public Utilities’ (DPU) oversight of the MBTA, Senator Michael Barrett introduced legislation (S.2199) proposing a pivotal change. This legislation aims to transition transportation oversight away from the DPU to a newly established commission, drawing inspiration from models set in New York and the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority (WMATA).

T4MA has been engaged in advocating for this crucial reform, providing testimony in support of Senator Barrett’s bill during a hearing on May 8, 2023. The bill is still under consideration by the joint committee and remains a key topic of discussion.

Stay informed as we continue our efforts to enhance MBTA safety oversight!

Mobility Commission

T4MA stands in strong support of H.3397/S.2214, An Act to create a mobility pricing commission, championed by Representative Steven Owens and Senator Brendan Crighton.

Despite past setbacks, this bill aims to comprehensively examine how we price roadways and public transit statewide. The commission needs diverse representation to understand mobility pricing’s impact on all residents.

Currently, our system favors driving over transit, leading to severe congestion in Boston. For example, roundtrip commuter rail tickets cost significantly more than toll fees for drivers. A roundtrip commuter rail ticket from Lynn to Boston is $14, or a roundtrip pass for Zone 2 is $232/month, compared to drivers with an E-ZPass transponder who will spend $2.50 – $3 roundtrip, making driving by vehicle $7 less than commuting on the commuter rail.

International examples show the benefits of implementing congestion pricing. London saw reduced congestion by 20 to 30%, increased bus ridership by 6%, a 66% increase in cycling, and CO2 emissions reduced by 15–20%. Similarly, Stockholm experienced a reduction in emissions by 15% and a nearly 50% reduction in asthma hospitalization in children aged 0-5.

Establishing this commission is vital for envisioning a transportation future that prioritizes equity, reduces emissions, and promotes public health. Let’s move forward towards a more sustainable and equitable transportation system!

Commuter Benefits Expansion

Massachusetts residents currently enjoy deductions of up to $750 for tolls and select MBTA passes. T4MA has successfully pushed for expansion of commuter benefits to include all daily transit fares across the commonwealth. Previously commuter deductions were only for MBTA monthly and weekly passes. With this change, riders on regional transit authorities, ferries, and bike share can now enjoy the same tax deductions. We’ve advocated for a bill to extend deductions to cover all MBTA and RTA fares, including bike share memberships, lowering the threshold for qualifying expenses from $150 to $50.

While Governor Healey’s tax package made strides by including RTA passes and bike share expenses, daily fares were left out. Here is T4MA’s written testimony before the Joint Committee on Revenue.

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