The MBTA is facing a looming budget deficit for next fiscal year (FY22) and an uncertain future as result of anemic ridership during COVID-19. To respond to this crisis, the T launched the Forging Ahead planning process to find solutions that close the budget gap, including internal cost savings goals, reallocation of capital dollars, and service level changes.
ABC currently operates three Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) that provide commute services and direct support to tens of thousands of employees in the City of Boston. Our membership includes some of the largest health care institutions providing essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. We respectfully submit the following comments:
Thank you to the MassDOT Board for hearing my comments regarding the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project today.
A Better City is extremely disappointed by MassDOT’s recent decision to delay the selection of the Preferred Alternative until summer 2021. With more than 90% of public comments received in favor of the Modified All At-Grade Option, the people have spoken—there is no need to delay or debate. At this critical juncture, we should be moving forward with the Modified All At-Grade design to tee up this transformative project for funding under the Biden Administration.
We do not support MassDOT’s renewed focus on the No Build Option and are extremely concerned that this protracted process is simply kicking the can to waste taxpayer dollars on a temporary repair of the Allston Viaduct. Repair of the existing viaduct would be all pain and no gain for commuters, visitors, and neighborhood residents alike—years of construction and congestion to repair a relic of the past.
Today, we reaffirm our support for the Modified All At-Grade option and we restate our opposition to the Modified Highway Viaduct, Soldiers Field Road Hybrid, and No Build Options. In my written comments, I’m enclosing a list of the dozens of major organizations, municipalities, and elected officials that share our perspective. After more than six years, support for the all at-grade design has never been stronger. This consensus is reflected in a full-page ad in today’s Boston Globe.
As you know, the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project is poised to shape our region for the next century—I implore MassDOT to seize this unparalleled opportunity to build a truly transformational project that will advance accessibility, equity, and sustainability for the city, the region, and the Commonwealth.
Thank . . .
A Better City and its Board ask the FMCB to send a strong signal that Boston will be open for business with a gold standard transit system. Before you complete the Forging Ahead exercise and vote at the next meeting, we would like you to:
Energy efficiency is, and will continue to be, a core pathway for buildings to decarbonize as the City of Boston develops a Building Emissions Performance Standard for existing buildings and a Net Zero Buildings Standard for new construction, and the State Legislature develops economy-wide emission reduction targets to be followed by sector-specific targets at a later date. Although energy efficiency is one of many pathways for buildings to reach these goals – others include renewable energy, offsets, carbon pricing, and alternative compliance payments – efficiency as a core decarbonization strategy features prominently in all policies under development.
Many A Better City buildings have been working diligently to increase efficiency within their buildings for years. A key energy efficiency motivator has been the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) incentives provided through the Mass Save program as part of the utilities’ Three-Year Energy Efficiency Plans that are monitored by the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC). A Better City and the Green Ribbon Commission’s (GRC’s) Commercial and Health Care Working Groups develop C&I recommendations for inclusion in the utility’s Three-Year Energy Efficiency Plans and track the progress towards achieving the goals throughout the course of each three-year cycle.
Currently, we are in the 2019-2021 three-year plan cycle and have just conducted an analysis of the utility’s progress to date. In a nutshell, progress towards achieving C&I savings targets is lagging behind the necessary pace to meet the 2019-2021 Three-Year Plan goals. The planning process for the 2022-2024 Three-Year Plan has already started with a series . . .
Earlier this month, A Better City convened with longtime partners CustomerFirst Renewables to discuss the importance of current market realities and shared proactive strategies for management of energy spending for organizations to reduce costs and limit budget uncertainty. We were thrilled to have Bob Griffin, Vice President
Business Development, David Rissmiller, Vice President Wholesale & Retail Energy Services, and Win Sheffield, Senior Engagement Manager, Client Service & Innovation join us for the program.
During the one hour dialogue, CustomerFirst Renewables covered:
• Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) community solar program
• Massachusetts Clean Peak Energy Standard (CPS) with onsite battery storage
• Understanding and eliminating inefficiencies in retail energy supply (electricity and natural gas)
The program ended with a thought-provoking Q&A section led by Executive Vice President, Kate Dineen. Though CustomerFirst Renewable's program is limited to large scale organizations, the program was found to be useful across many of A Better City's members.
On any given day pre-COVID-19, the MBTA’s most important focus was providing safe and reliable service throughout the Greater Boston area. The onset of the pandemic brought this critical task to a new level and cost.1
Like many transit agencies, it was the first time the T had to respond to a public health crisis of this magnitude. To their credit, the MBTA was swift to enact initial mitigation actions to help prevent the spread of the virus across the entire system. The T is continuing these efforts and also responding to changing demand and ridership patterns to provide adequate service during the pandemic, manage workforce impacts, and put in place effective crisis communication.
The dissemination of information during a crisis is absolutely critical to reassure the public and to ensure safety protocols are being followed and respected. For the T, communication and outreach had to target and quickly reach employees as well as customers. During the lockdown, the T relied on its website, weekly videos from the General Manager, and social media to keep riders informed about service and mitigation measures. As the Commonwealth began its phased reopening, the MBTA launched the Ride Safer campaign to communicate the agency’s extensive actions to keep the transit system safe.
The Ride Safer campaign is more than just an outreach effort—it is a pact between the . . .
As you may know from previous blog posts and A Better City conversations with the Energy and Environment Unit, the Massachusetts legislature is currently in the process of reconciling two very different pieces of climate legislation before the end of legislative session in December 2020. With S.2500 An Act Setting Next-Generation Climate Policy released by the Massachusetts Senate in January 2020 and the H.4933 An Act Creating a 2050 Roadmap to a Clean and Thriving Commonwealth released by the House in July 2020, a climate conference committee has been formed with six members from both branches to reach consensus on a final climate bill to put on the Governor’s desk by the end of the year.
Although there has been considerable momentum in the legislature on clean energy, climate targets, environmental justice, and climate funding bills this session, the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic have understandably put climate policy, among other policy initiatives, on hold. After the legislature voted to extend the legislative session from ending on July 31st, 2020, to December 31st, 2020, the climate conference committee has not met, so it is hard to determine if any progress is being made. Conversations about what the conferees are considering are happening behind closed doors, without the opportunity for further public hearings. However, A Better City, and many of the organizations we collaborate with, have submitted comments to the climate conference committee with suggestions for the anticipated climate bill.
Thanks to the engagement and input of our Energy and Environment Advisory Committee, A Better City submitted substantial comments to the climate conference committee, covering topics relevant to bills S.2500 and H.4933 like greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, . . .