RECAP: Transportation & Infrastructure Advisory Committee Meeting: Franck Avice


A Better City convened the Transportation and Infrastructure Advisory Committee on June 28th to share updates on key transportation and infrastructure challenges and issues the Commonwealth is facing and what the Transportation and Infrastructure Cluster is doing to address them.  

Safety was first on the agenda, and should be Governor Baker’s Administration’s, the MBTA’s,and MassDOT’s number one priority. Glen Berkowitz, Project Manager, provided a summary of the recent FTA Safety Directives, that focus on the deep systemic challenges the T faces (maintaining a state of good repair, administering workforce to deliver safe operations), and failed oversight, including by the Department of Public Utilities. The Directives point to safety issues related to track disrepair, yard operations, driver certification, and operation control center staffing. Glen shared A Better City’s recommendations sent to Governor Baker and his administration (link) on oversight and timely service restoration:  

  1. Appoint a Special Safety Directorate within the Governor’s Office to Oversee MBTA and DPU Implementation of FTA Safety Directives;  
  2. Restore Full Service on Blue, Orange, and Red Lines by July 18th; and  
  3. Increase OCC Staffing from 14 to 18 (or 22) as well as OCC Supervisors from 9 to 11.   

I-90 Allston Multimodal Project & Economic Study  
A Better City played an instrumental role in advocating for MassDOT to submit a competitive grant (MEGA) to support the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project. Tom Nally, Senior Advisor, updated the committee on the status of the much awaited Notice of Project Change, which is expected to be released the first week of July. He also noted continued A Better City engagement with MassDOT on the project, with a meeting planned for July 7th on construction phasing. Tom also informed the group that the Economic Benefits report provides a comprehensive overview of the regional economic benefits that will result from the multimodal project will launch in mid-July.  

Policy and Legislative Priorities  
Tom Ryan, Senior Advisor, Policy, Government, and Community Affairs outlined A Better City’s priorities for 2022-2023.  

  1. Advance MBTA service restoration, capital enhancements, safety improvements, and equitable access;  
  2. Finalize I-90 Allston Multimodal Project with a regional benefits study and neighborhood connector plan;  
  3. Support decarbonization of transportation sector;  
  4. Deploy new tools to grow TMAs;  
  5. Maximize potential impact of federal infrastructure funds.  

He also highlighted some key legislative issues A Better City is following, including the  Transportation Bond Bill (A+B bidding, Commission on Mobility Pricing; bond authorizations for safety and some of East-West rail; transit tax benefits and e-bike incentives; means-tested fares);  Climate Bill (expand decarbonization actions for transport beyond EV incentives to include public transit, in particular bus and commuter rail); and updates on proposed moratoriums for the state and federal gas tax.  

Data-Driven Approach to TDM/TMA  
Scott Mullen, TDM/TMA Director, shared A Better City’s data-driven work using zip analysis to assess commuting preferences, needs, and gaps. The data tool developed by the TDM/TMA focuses on A Better City members in the healthcare sector but could be expanded to other sectors. It shows that employees for this set of members live 5-10 miles out of Boston and want other options than cars, support the need to expand critical connections to make cycling safe, for example, for these commuters and provide a list mile option for commuters who drive to bike their final leg to work.  

Paris Region Public Transit Network  
Franck Avice, former Senior Vice President for Auditing and Strategy, and Executive Vice President, Business Operations and Customer Experience, as well Executive Director of the Metro and the Regional Rail of the Paris Region, gave a comprehensive overview of the Paris Region Metro and Regional Rail and provided some insights and key lessons for our region’s public transit system. His presentation is here, and few key takeaways below on safety, governance and budget, fares, and expansion.  

  1. Safety: Safety must be a public transit agency number one priority. Creating and sustaining a safety culture takes time and requires the right processes to communicate and track safety, consequences, and incentives. The last safety incident in Paris was in 2005 and there were no casualties. 
  2. Budget Oversight and Responsibility: Operations budget and capital investment budget are managed by two separate entities.  
  3. Fares: Affordable fares and employer subsidizes incentive demand. In Paris, a monthly pass that covers the whole system and transfer is 75 euros. Employers subsidize at least 50% of transit pass cost.  
  4. Supply Begets Demand: The provision of reliable, frequent, safe, and affordable public transit will lead to demand, but this requires political commitment and vision as well as the funding for capital investment to maintain, modernize, and expand service to continuing growing ridership and meeting customer needs.  

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