Transportation Justice

Funding and Modernizing Regional Transit Authorities

Massachusetts’ 15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) are a lifeline to millions of people living in the 250+ cities and towns beyond the reach of the MBTA. By operating fixed bus routes and providing dial-a-ride services for people with disabilities, RTAs connect residents to medical care, food, jobs, education and other necessities that drive good health outcomes. Despite their essential function, RTAs have suffered for 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.

The RTA Advocates Coalition

To build support for RTAs across the Commonwealth, MPHA joined forces with Transportation for Massachusetts in 2018 to launch the RTA Advocates Coalition. Since then, thanks to the participation and hard work of community-based organizations and individuals across the state, the Coalition has succeeded in preserving funding for RTAs. We have also provided information to the Task Force on RTA Performance and Funding, which the Legislature appointed in 2019 to recommend improvements to RTA operations.

Today, the RTA Advocates Coalition is comprised of community groups, human service providers, transportation advocates, and local leaders committed to providing a unified voice for transit users in RTA service areas across the state. The Coalition’s top priorities include:  

  • Adequate funding to support RTA operations,
  • Stronger connectivity between regions, and
  • Service hours that meet resident needs (weekend service, late night and early morning service).

If your organization would like to learn more about the RTA Advocates Coalition, contact MPHA Assistant Campaign Director Alexis Walls at awalls@mapublichealth.org.

Budget Fact Sheets:

Increasing Regional Transit Accessibility

While the RTA Advocates Coalition continues to fight for adequate funding through the annual state budget process, we are also urging the legislature to pass the RTA Advancement Bill. This bill implements key recommendations from the 2019 Task Force Report on RTA Performance and Funding including: 

  • Ensuring adequate and sustainable funding for RTAs,
  • Prioritizing RTA service improvements through an annual RTA Council report,
  • Enhancing support for RTA capital projects, and
  • Supporting electrification of RTA buses.

Click here to learn more. 

Resources: 


Supporting Neighborhoods in Worcester and Springfield 

When neighborhoods lack access to reliable and affordable transportation, residents have difficulty accessing basic resources, like jobs, food and medical care. These challenges, in turn, often lead to poor health outcomes. Worcester and Springfield are the second and third most populated cities in Massachusetts, yet their neighborhoods continue to suffer the consequences of a long-term disinvestment in public transportation.  

In an exciting new initiative, MPHA is partnering with Neighbor to Neighbor, a grassroots advocacy organization, to build a coalition of residents, community-based organizations and local leaders in Worcester and Springfield. The goal of this collaboration is to advance campaigns that will empower low-income residents and residents of color to advocate for: 

  • Better transit,
  • Cleaner air, and 
  • Stable housing. 

The coalition will engage in a community-driven process that centers residents’ voices, in order to develop and carry out transportation justice campaigns in both cities. The steps in this process will include: 

  1. Residents and leaders from community organizations share needs.
  2. N2N and MPHA support residents and leaders as they review community needs data and begin to brainstorm policy solutions to issues identified.
  3. Community stakeholders come together to vote on policy solutions to address priority needs.
  4. N2N and MPHA support residents and community leaders as they develop local campaigns and connect efforts to statewide movements.
  5. Residents lead local and statewide campaigns that educate and mobilize residents, community organizations and decision-makers.
  6. Long-term results will include empowerment for local residents, plus local and statewide policy changes.

To learn more, click here.  

Resources: