Testimony to the FMCB: Forging Ahead

Prepared by Caitlin Allen-Connelly, Project Director 

Fiscal Management and Control Board Meeting, Agenda Items 2 & 5

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

  • A Better City and its members would like to thank the General Manager and Deputy General Manager for their progress report on service restoration at the last FMCB meeting, as well as their presentation on the Authority’s process and approach for rebuilding service.

  • Building back better to create a more equitable, affordable, reliable, and flexible public transit system is critical to meeting the mobility needs of the region. To get there, A Better City firmly believes the MBTA should start by reversing all service cuts set in motion by Forging Ahead as soon as possible.

  • A Better City asks the MBTA to put in place a restoration timeline that is in sync with the needs of riders and conditions in the communities the T serves. For example, the T should prioritize the restoration of bus routes serving Boston Public Schools now — not on June 20th, which is two days after the last day of school.

  • The MBTA has acknowledged that the primary challenge the T is facing to restore full or more robust service is a human resource capacity issue and not funding. This is thanks to the almost $2 billion in federal transit funding the T has received during and after the Forging Ahead process. A Better City continues to offer its support to accelerate training and to investigate all other possible options to offer more service, now, particularly on high ridership bus routes.

  • Today and in FY22, A Better City calls on the MBTA to lead demand by staying ahead of demand. Ridership is increasing, and the MTBA must fund and staff the system to safely accommodate riders on all modes, including the Commuter Rail and Ferry service. It also needs to ensure service in the spring and summer to revive tourism, and in the fall to welcome back riders as many employees will transition back to the workplace. The Commonwealth’s economic recovery depends on it.

  • The transition to the “new normal” is closer than ever, and the MBTA must be ready in advance with service that caters to emerging ridership trends but also to the traditional commuter, offers flexible fare products that entice riders, and safety protocols that build back public trust and encourage a return to public transit. A Better City stands ready to help the MBTA start spreading the word that the region’s public transit system is a viable, safe, post-pandemic commuting option.



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