Funding and Modernizing Regional Transit Authorities
Together with the MBTA, Massachusetts’ 15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) operate fixed bus routes and provide dial-a-ride services for people with disabilities across the Commonwealth. Created by state law in 1973, the RTAs connect area residents to medical care, substance use treatment, groceries, jobs, education and other drivers of good health outcomes. Despite their essential function, RTAs have suffered in recent years from chronic underfunding and year-to-year budget uncertainties, which have made it difficult to maintain existing services – and impossible to expand services when and where they are most needed.
In 2018, in response to the Baker Administration’s proposed budget cuts for RTAs, MPHA joined forces with Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) to launch the RTA Advocates Coalition. Within a few months, community-based organizations from across the state joined together to craft and implement a strategy to prevent service cuts and fare increases for RTAs. We succeeded in preserving funding for RTAs in FY19, and also provided information to the Task Force on RTA Performance & Funding, which the Legislature appointed to recommend improvements to RTA operations. In FY20, the Coalition successfully advocated for $87M in base funding for RTAs and ensured through rule changes that an additional $3.5M in discretionary funds would be released in a timely manner. Looking ahead, our future goals include maintaining adequate base funding for RTAs and expanding service to include weekends and evenings in as many regions as possible.
If your organization would like to learn more about the RTA Advocates Coalition, contact MPHA Field Director Andrea Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.