TFT has been supporting a variety of efforts to advocate for public transportation. This started in 2017, when the WRTA was forced into a financial crisis due to level funding of all the Massachusetts regional transit authorities in the state budget, which runs from July to June. Fixed routes were dropped and prices raised. Everyone was more organized entering 2018, expecting the same issue would occur with the state budget starting in July. Level funding was again the position of the Governor, but this time extensive lobbying by various Worcester organizations convinced the legislature to add the extra money to the final budget. No routes were dropped and no fares were increased.
Shortly thereafter, the WRTA Administrator decided to leave. After several months of an interim administrator, a new permanent administrator has been hired and will be on board soon to tackle the same potential crisis, as the Governor and the legislature head into the negotiations for this year’s state budget. (Stay tuned!)
The same groups that came together to form the Transportation Advocacy Coalition (TAC), has also managed to raise the profile of the importance of public transportation within the greater Worcester community. In mid-December, the TAC hosted a one-day conference in Worcester on public transportation with over 100 attendees, including the recent leader of the Massachusetts senate, Harriet Chandler, and representatives from the Mass Department of Transportation. In a related effort, but also with support of the TAC, a bus rider, Candria Gray, has been added to the WRTA Board of Directors. Ms. Gray is also co-chair of a TAC subcommittee, the Ridership Advisory Committee (RAC) that meets monthly with the WRTA Administrator. The RAC is composed of riders and providers and provides a voice for riders to give the Administrator direct feedback on the quality of bus service. One of the RAC members has started a Facebook group called Riding the Bus, where any rider can post his or her experience or opinions.
Tasks for Transit has been a participant in this activity since its founding in 2015. During this year, 2018, some substantive accomplishments have been realized. We hope it will be as successful in 2019.