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Comment Letter for Regional Transit Authorities in the FY2020 Budget – Amendment 1136

Comment Letter for Regional Transit Authorities in the FY2020 Budget – Amendment 1136

Massachusetts State Senate
The State House
Boston, MA 02133

May 16, 2019

Regional Transit Authorities in the FY2020 Budget – Amendment 1136

Honorable Members of the Senate:

We, a group of elected, nonprofit, community, and business leaders who support RTAs and their riders, support amendment 1136, which would provide $90.5 million in base funding for the regional transit authority (RTA) line item (1595-6370) in the FY2020 budget, and identifies separate, additional funding for performance targets and innovations, subject to Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between RTAs and MassDOT. Stable base funding is essential to protect riders from service cuts, and for RTAs to provide predictable service as they continue to improve performance and accountability. We are very pleased that the Senate Ways and Means budget includes language that ties state assistance to RTAs to inflation.

To count any MOU-based funding towards the base, as the Senate Ways and Means budget does, amounts to a cut in service which penalizes riders who are transit-dependent. Here is why: MOUs and the underlying performance targets take months to develop, and the transit service that results is not assured to continue. As an example, the $4 million in MOU-based funding that the legislature voted as part of the FY 2019 budget has still not been released, 10 1⁄2 months into the fiscal year, and several service cuts have not been restored as a result.

Senators may recall that the FY 2019 budget also established the Task Force on RTA Performance and Funding. Constituted in October 2018, the Task Force completed its work and delivered a report to the legislature on April 5, 2019, titled A Vision for the Future of Massachusetts’ Regional Transit Authorities.

This Task Force report included several recommendations to improve service. These included $90.5 million in base funding from the state budget; indexing of future state appropriations to CPI; establishment of MOUs with MassDOT to ensure future performance goals; and other recommendations to promote accountable, statewide public transit.

In conclusion, we cite the first recommendation from Choices for Stewardship, the December 2018 report of the Baker Administration’s Commission on the Future of Transportation:

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

In this spirit, we thank the Senate for making investment in public transit a priority for FY 2020.

Respectfully submitted,

Mayor Jon Mitchell, City of New Bedford

Mayor Daniel Rivera, City of Lawrence

Mayor Alex Morse, City of Holyoke

Mayor Paul Heroux, City of Attleboro

Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale, City of Fitchburg

William F. Martin, Mayor, City of Greenfield

Linda Dunlavy, Executive Director, Franklin Regional Council of Governments

Tim Brennan, Executive Director, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission

Frederick Kidder, President/CEO, SouthCoast Chamber

Maddie Ribble, Director of Public Policy and Campaign Strategy, Massachusetts Public Health Association

Andre Leroux, Executive Director, Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance

Chris Dempsey, Director, Transportation for Massachusetts

Nancy Goodman, Vice President for Policy, Environmental League of Massachusetts

Stacy Thompson, Executive Director, LivableStreets Alliance

Heather McMann, Executive Director, Groundwork Lawrence

Mayor Donna Holaday, City of Newburyport

Mayor David Narkewicz, City of Northampton

Mayor Thomas W. Bernard, City of North Adams

Cathy Ann Viveiros, City Administrator, City of Fall River

Thomas Matuszko, Executive Director, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission

Marc Draisen, Executive Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Jack Lank, President/CEO, The United Regional Chamber of Commerce

Marie Oliva, President & CEO, Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber

Wendy Garf-Lipp, Executive Director, United Neighbors of Fall River

Janet Domenitz, Executive Director, MASSPIRG

Joseph Kriesberg, President, Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations

Deb Pasternak, Chapter Director, Sierra Club, Massachusetts Chapter

John MacDougall, Sylvia Parsons and Jack Spence, Co-Chairs, 350Mass Transportation Working Group

Elena Letona, Executive Director, Neighbor to Neighbor

Wendy Landman, Executive Director, WalkBoston

Scott Zadakis, Director, CrossTown Connect TMA

Judith L. Kirk, Director of Community Impact, YouthConnect Worcester

Kevin McCaffrey, Director of Government and Community Relations and Special Projects, Office of Advancement, Mount Holyoke College

Jim Kolesar, Vice President, Berkshire Interfaith Organizing

Elizabeth Isherwood, Communications Director, Rail to Boston Coalition

Jennifer Lee, Systems Advocate, Stavros

Corinn Williams, Executive Director, Community Economic Development Center

Janie Katz-Christy, Director, Green Streets Initiative

Jessica Collins, Executive Director, Public Health Institute of Western MA

Victoria Waterman, Chief Executive Officer, Girls, Inc. of Worcester

Staci Rubin, Senior Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation

Carolyn Villers, Executive Director, Massachusetts Senior Action Council

Kerry Conaghan, VP Community Impact, United Way of Central Massachusetts

Patty Flanagan, Director of Wellness and Health Equity, YWCA Central Massachusetts

Samuel Masinter, Associate Vice President for College Relations, Smith College

Margaret Coffin, CEO, Center for Living & Working, Inc.

David Connell, Vice President/Chief Human Resource Officer, YMCA of Central Massachusetts

Gordon Hargrove, Executive Director, Friendly House, Inc.

Alan Dallmann, Coordinator The Coalition to End Hunger

Justin Lawson, Fund Mass RTAs

Samuel Martin, Executive Director, Worcester Youth Center

Susan Moriarty, MASS Central Regional Coordinator, Mass Advocates Standing Strong

K. Lev Ben-Ezra, Executive Director, Amherst Survival Center

Deb Fastino, Executive Director, Coalition for Social Justice

Christopher M. O’Keeffe, Vice President for Programs, Greater Worcester Community Foundation

Drew Grande, Clean Energy Program Director, Massachusetts Climate Action Network

Joyce Mandell, Founder and Director, Jane Jacobs in the Woo

Lew Finfer, Co-Director, Massachusetts Communities Action Network

Adam Thielker, Transportation Advocacy Coalition

Liz Hamilton, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Worcester

Joe Bellil, VP of Public Affairs & Youth Services, Easter Seals of Massachusetts

Mary Haroyan, Bay State Council of the Blind

Ali, Amrana and Shabaz Soofi, Worker-Owners, WooRides

Scott Avedisian, CEO, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority

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