WRTA Fiscal Crisis and the TAC

February 2018: A replay of last year’s WRTA fiscal crisis is now in progress for the next fiscal year, fiscal 2019, that begins July 1, 2018. Due to the current levels of state-wide funding of all transportation authorities, and rising local expenses, the WRTA faces a $1.1 million deficit.
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News

  • TFT's 21st partner charity, Dismas House (housing, ex-convicts’ employment) was added in December.
  • A 22nd partner charity will be added in March, however, which non-profit has not yet been decided.
  • We continue to support Hotel Grace as a temporary partner charity.
  • We received a mini-grant from Fallon Health Foundation for $3,000!
  • We received a donation from the United Parish of Auburndale for $750!
  • We received a donation from The First Unitarian Church of Worcester for over $700!
  • The WRTA is struggling to absorb yet another funding deficit due to insufficient state funding of all the Massachusetts transit authorities. (See article below.)

WRTA Fiscal Crisis and the TAC

A replay of last year’s WRTA fiscal crisis is now in progress for the next fiscal year, fiscal 2019, that begins July 1, 2018. Due to the current levels of state-wide funding of all transportation authorities, and rising local expenses, the WRTA faces a $1.1 million deficit. In an attempt to deal with this situation, the WRTA Administrator, Jonathon Church, has proposed to the Advisory Board yet another round of route eliminations. The major part of the WRTA expense budget is “fixed route transit service.” Emphasis is being given to dropping routes with minimal ridership and routes to outlying towns. Towns losing service would be Oxford, Webster, Charlton, Southbridge, Spenser, Brookfield and West Brookfield (routes 29, 33 & 42). Weekend service would also be affected because weekend routes tend to have minimal ridership.
 
At the core of this crisis is the current state funding bill in which transportation funding is “level funded,”  
that is, the same from year to year. The budget for the current fiscal year that will end this June was also level funded. Both budgets fall short by ten percent of the needs of the state’s nine transit systems. Without using precise numbers, the state budget bill is now level funded at $80 million. If it reflected true transit needs it would funded at $89 million.  
 
A new Worcester-based group, the Transportation Advocacy Coalition (TAC), was recently formed through the leadership efforts of the Worcester Community Connections Coalition, a part of  the You Inc., a local non-profit. Sarah Bertrand of the WCCC is spearheading this group. Tasks for Transit has been a part of this group since its inception.
 
The mission of the TAC is to advocate for reliable, safe, affordable, accessible, dependable transportation that is responsive to the needs of the greater Worcester community, particularly of low-income residents and families who depend on bus transportation, using a legitimate process that includes community voices. Jonathon Church, WRTA Administrator, is a member of the TAC and co-chairs a sub-committee of the TAC that meets monthly with actual bus riders to listen to their concerns.
 
With the TAC in mind, we at TFT urge you to contact your state legislators and the governor and ask them to add ten percent to the current funding level for transportation in the bill now under consideration for Massachusetts fiscal year 2019. To read an in-depth analysis of this crisis, go to this article in the online Worcester Magazine

Stats from the March 2015 launch of TFT through February 2018

5
Partner Charities
2930
Bus Passes Dispensed

More to explore

Tasks for Transit Accomplishments for 2019

4Q 2019: TFT’s plan for 2019 was to continue its steady growth by adding four Partner Charities to its network. As has been done for the previous two years, one more was added during each quarter of 2019. TFT ended 2019 with 30 Partner Charities.

The Status of the Fare Free WRTA Idea

3Q 2019: In April 2019, the Greater Worcester Research Bureau published a report analyzing the possibility of the WRTA running a “fare free” bus system. Other cities, e.g., Portland, Oregon, are doing this or have done it in the past. Clearly, a fare-free WRTA would be a great benefit for those living in poverty.

The Relationship Between Transportation and Poverty

2Q 2019: In a December 2018 article, US News & World Report noted that the US poverty rate dropped from 14.9 percent to 14.6 percent. In Massachusetts, the rate has dropped to 11.1%. However, Worcester’s rate is thought to be twice the state average, roughly 22%.

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