Testimony to FMCB: Service Demands

Prepared by Caitlin Allen-Connelly, Project Director 

Chairman Aiello, Members of the Board, General Manager Poftak, Secretary Tesler, thank you for the opportunity to submit comments today.

It has been an unpredictable and challenging last fiscal year. The pandemic brought with it a fiscal landscape that was difficult to navigate.

I am certain that the Board and the entire MBTA team are relieved to be closing out the books. While it was not easy, and at times our opinions diverged, A Better City and its Members thank everyone for rolling up their sleeves and getting through the year intact.

Not too long ago, it seemed like FY22 would not offer much relief, but today the Commonwealth is in a much different place. The economy is back up and running with no restrictions: Boston and the region are officially OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

It appears to be full speed ahead to a long awaited and much needed recovery.

Memorial Day, rainy as it was, marked the “unofficial” start of summer, and with it a return to the recreational activities in and around Boston that we all love.

On the work front, we are hearing from our Members that workplace returns will start for some in July and for others in September. Employees are coming back to the office; some 5 days a week, and others in more of a hybrid capacity, commuting 3-5 days a week.

What does this mean for the MBTA’s FY22 budget?

It means funding pre-pandemic service levels—or more—and rethinking service delivery policy to make riding the T better than before. Let’s not return to crush capacity.

Last week, ridership across the system was at 41% compared to 35% just a month ago.

It means proactively thanking existing riders, welcoming back riders, and attracting new riders to a safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable system.

The word must get out through as many avenues, including businesses, and languages as possible, that the MBTA is ready when commuters are!

We appreciate the thoughtful work Dany Levy and her team are doing to create a campaign, and we look forward to supporting their efforts this spring/fall.

It means reimagining fare products that incentivize public transit use.

Let’s continue to consider fare promotions, prolong existing fare pilots, and pursue new, innovative pilots. 

It means advancing and investing in a 21st Century public transit system.

With federal stimulus funding that stretches out to FY24 and fare revenue exceeding expectations, there is money in the budget to invest now in Regional Rail, Bus Transformation, Red-Blue Connector, to name a few.

A Better City urges the FMCB to approve a FY22 budget that leads demand and achieves the goals outlined above, anything less would be shortchanging the region’s economy and the riding public.

Thank you.

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