MassDOT Meeting Liveblog

I am a bit late; Noah is liveblogging this as well.

Gentleman from Transportation for America (I think) – wants to see economic development seen in Kendall Square to move towards Worcester and the Pioneer Valley.

5:57 – Debbie Malone, involved in activities for people with disabilities.  One of biggest problems around MA is that there are many gaps in service.  Towns that fall between service (like Westboro, between WRTA and Framingham).

If you live outside the city, you can’t get to Worcester with public transportation.

We need safe ways and clear ways to get to bus stops and train stations.  A lot of sidewalks are a mess.

Even for myself, I am legally blind and have a service animal, and has to rely on audible lights.  Safe for all of us, and not just people who can see and people who can drive.

6:01 – discusses airport and safety features needed around Goddard Memorial Drive.

[Note that there is a woman here who has been waiting for an ASL interpreter for quite some time.]

6:02 – Rene Mardones (sp?) – Alternatives for Community and Environment and T Riders Coalition – Here to talk about what has been done in the past year with Green Justice Coalition.  With last fare increase and service reductions, it will not only happen in MBTA but RTAs also.  We believe to be able to have a healthy system across the state, we need to fix it and fund it.

Fix: implement state of good repair for all 15 RTAs and MBTA.  Prioritize environmental justice community.

Fund – Privatization is not the answer.  Dedicated line items for RTAs.  Relief of MBTA debt.  Put on backs of riders who are seniors and people with disabilities.  Increase baseline for state funding for RTAs.  Create structure for communities that most depend on public transportation across the state.

6:06 – Luis Perron – from Green Coalition – Mr Davis promised that we would find each other here.  His problem is Line 17, 16, and 10.  This is about Wonderland and Mass General.  Has nothing to do with Worcester; I might ignore this one to spare the fingers.

6:10 – different gentleman wants to know about buses.

Steve O’Neil of WRTA responds – same service as they had in 2007/2008 – continuing to increase that with increased funding from the Commonwealth.

6:11 – Dennis Irish – here as healthcare provider to speak in favor of public transportation.  People who use public transportation have lower rates of obesity.  Many employees get off work when there is no public transportation means to get home; takes care of a disproportionate number of lower income & elderly, who rely on public transportation.

Very encouraged by discussions with WRTA for service requests.

6:15: Kathy Pleasant of Center for Living and Working – in a number of communities they serve, there is no bus service whatsoever.  The only way for most of these folks to get around is COA vans.  One lady from East Douglas was saying they don’t even have budget for COA van.  Please try to think of the smaller towns when you do your fixed-route planning.

6:17 – Rich Rydant of CMMPO – as far as longterm vision for region, planning commission has to put together a comprehensive plan every four years.

There is a need for operational dollars to maintain and expand bus service.

There is also a need for local communities to continue their chapter 90 funding.

6:20 – Terry Kelly – Speaks in favor of trolleys and extending route hours and lines.  Mentioned this to WRTA.  If you don’t have people riding the buses, they don’t have the money.  We should develop a program to give elderly bus passes.  With children, feels it’s age discrimination to charge them when they’re not with their parents.  Should be a handicapped hub next to (City Hall?)

6:22 – John Carney – works for WRTA – Ridership has been going up for five years, but demographic changing.  We are now seeing more commuters as a result of the economy.  Easy to lose, hard to gain [in ridership].

6:26 – sorry, didn’t catch the name – any increase to the fare substantially hits those on fixed incomes; those in instittutions are alloted $72 a month in spending money.  Perhaps they can use service for reduced fare.

The RIDE (MBTA) just had fare increased – just because the T did it does not mean it needs to happen here with the WRTA.

Likes new buses.  Instead of lift, they have a ramp.  Assumes it’s easier to maintain because less moving parts.  Some buses out there with old-fashioned lifts, and at times they are not operable.

Request to extend nighttime and weekend hours.

6:30 – she is disabled and can’t get places at night.  She works on Goddard Drive and there’s no spot near there where the bus goes.

6:30 – Jacqueline Norton – RTA has been trying, but the things we need to do is prioritize the spending.  Was recently at an econ dev meeting focused on public transportation.  There are many people who will not be able to enjoy Walmart on 146.  Why are we getting a new bus hub, etc., but no ride home after a City Council meeting on a Tuesday night or a ride to church on Sunday.  [Sing it, sister!]

6:33 – Jo Hart – “as most people in the room know, I’ve been advocating for public trasnportation for 11 years” – says current mayor did nothing for WRTA.  Has had no answer to any of her letters from anyone except once.  Quite plain to everyone that the city is only interested in people with cars.  Advocates for light rail on Route 9.

Jo announced that she is 74 years old, for those of you wondering.

“We are not an underclass…we want to go places.”

“We can go nowhere with all the money in the world.”

Applause for Jo.

6:37 – Diane, happy that individuals from Boston and Worcester are here at a same time.  Spending a lot of money to have a train from Boston to Springfield but forgot Worcester.

With federal grants and budgeting for ADA individuals, where can we find out how money was spent to serve these people?

We received new buses and books look better.  Would like it if budget came before spending money versus after.

Big Dig is hitting consumers.

Had a 78 year old woman this week waiting for a bus that broke down, waiting in the rain for two hours.  We need more buses.  You received federal money to serve these people, should not be waiting for hours for bus in the rain.

Who is responsible for taking care of hubs, because in the contract it’s not the WRTA.

DPW needs to plow better so folks can get on the bus.

Advocates prisoners doing shoveling.

When she goes to Shul on Sabbath, it’s an eight mile walk because there is no bus unless she leaves early or the rabbi finishes quick.

Loves the new Charlie Card machines — but it’s tough when you have an elderly person whose hands are shaking and it could take the fare 2-3 times.

Why does the WRTA not return 50 cents when someone gives them $2?  Are we raising the fare to $2 and just not telling anyone?

That’s the end of my liveblogging — the meeting will continue with Noah’s work!