MBTA General Manager

Podcast 24 - Rich Davey, Former MBTA GM & Secretary of Transportation

Former MBTA General Manager and MassDOT Secretary, Rich Davey joins us to reflect on his experience and share insight into the current challenges and opportunities facing the T.

Why has the service become so unreliable? Will we ever plan for and implement system upgrades? How can we better use our existing services and resources? Are the labor and management needs being met? How can the T communicate more effectively as well as advocate for itself and the needs of riders? Can we do effective regional planning and forge a working relationship with advocates and cities? How do we raise revenue, and should that be a priority? We finally put to rest the argument over the word annual: whether fares are legally allowed to rise by 5 or 10 percent. And much more.

Prior to running the MBTA, Rich Davey was the General Manager of the Commuter Rail operator. We talk about activating the Fairmount Line and some other ways to improve the Commuter Rail. How might more effective regional planning enable the Commuter Rail to address local and regional transportation challenges?

Transit Matters is a non-profit organization working for fast, frequent, reliable and effective transportation in Boston by elevating the conversation on transportation. By offering new perspectives, uniting transit advocates and promoting a level of critical analysis normally absent from other media, we can achieve a useful and effective transportation network because Transit Matters.

Like what you hear? Share it around, tell your friends and colleagues, and subscribe to the blog and podcast (on iTunes) to be notified of new posts and episodes. Support our work by becoming a member, making a donation or signing up to volunteer because we can't do this alone. Let us know what you think: connect with TransitMatters on Facebook or Twitter. Follow Jeremy Mendelson @Critical Transit, Josh Fairchild @hatchback31, Jarred Johnson @jarjoh, Marc Ebuña @DigitalSciGuy, or email us here.

Podcast 22 - MBTA Raising Fares Again, Overtime Lies, Challenges and Opportunities

The MBTA fare increase proposals (presentation, summary) are unnecessary and not even helpful in closing the budget gap. This is the latest example to the way the Fiscal & Management Control Board is using misleading statistics to support an ideological agenda that has never worked. What happened to being visionary and taking a fresh look?

Short of major investment -- which is needed more than ever -- many simple changes could improve the user experience and help alleviate capacity constraints. For example:

  1. The transfer policy could allow unlimited use within 2 hours (instead of the current one-transfer limit) to offer new options for shorter trips, increase ridership, reduce congestion downtown and save money.
  2. All-door boarding on buses and trolleys means faster trips, more frequent service, lower fare evasion and operating cost savings.
  3. Expanding Zone 1A on Commuter Rail to all Boston stations as well as Waltham and Lynn would offer fast service for thousands of low-income riders while reducing operating costs.
  4. Many low-cost changes such as upgrading bus stops, stations and terminals would improve service quality and increase ridership.

UPDATE: See our Fares & Service fact sheet (the longer version is here).

All this and more in this week's show, recorded in the WMBR studio at MIT in Cambridge. Marc offers some insights from this year's TransportationCamp DC on how regional governance could address some of our management challenges, and former T General Manager Beverly Scott was there. We hear a little bit from the growing transit advocacy network, as organizations like TransitMatters start to pop up in cities across the country.

The Transit Matters Podcast is your source for transportation news, analysis, interviews with transit advocates and more. By offering new perspectives, uniting transit advocates and promoting a level of critical analysis normally absent from other media, we can achieve a useful and effective transportation network because Transit Matters.

Like what you hear? Share it around, tell your friends and colleagues, and subscribe to the blog and podcast (on iTunes) to be notified of new posts and episodes. Support our work by becoming a member, making a donation or signing up to volunteer because we can't do this alone. Let us know what you think by connect with TransitMatters on Facebook or Twitter. Follow Jeremy Mendelson @Critical Transit, Josh Fairchild @hatchback31, Jarred Johnson at @jarjoh, Marc Ebuña at @DigitalSciGuy, and or email us here.

Podcast 10 - Fixing the T: immediate and medium-term solutions

Podcast 10 - Fixing the T: immediate and medium-term solutions

The collapse of Boston's long-neglected transit system has dominated the news this week along with calls for more MBTA funding, but no action has been taken and the General Manager unexpectedly quit after receiving a unanimous vote of confidence. The city remains gridlocked and our only "solution" has been to truck snow out to the suburbs. Governor Baker called for another study to reach the same conclusions as all the previous studies. No amount of "reform" or new management is going to make up for inadequate revenue, and if the state continues to neglect the lifeblood of our economy, perhaps cities will be forced to unite in taxing themselves. There may also be some real estate revenue opportunities. We debunk myths about system expansion, transportation inequity and other uninformed opinions people are spouting in the media and on Beacon Hill.

For now, an emergency transit plan is needed. We're talking immediate and radical changes, working with the state and other cities to have a transportation plan so that the city can keep moving when the T fails (which we know will continue to happen). The trials of the past month should make clear how the T impacts everyone in the region, not just riders, and can be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate transit priority measures that we should have all the time. Currently suburbanites can drive into downtown faster than many Boston residents can get downtown; we think that needs to change.

Scott’s Resignation a Wake Up Call for Massachusetts

Scott’s Resignation a Wake Up Call for Massachusetts

MBTA GM Beverly Scott, PhD, delivered an impassioned speech earlier this week  [Photo via Boston Globe]

We’ve seen it before: the highly qualified leader of a beleaguered transit agency gets fed up with state politics getting in the way of him/her doing his/her job and resigns.

Take Jay Walder, former CEO of Hong Kong MTR, former Managing Director for Finance and Planning of Transport for London, and current CEO of Motivate, the company that manages Hubway. When he resigned as NYC MTA CEO back in 2011, it was not merely to take the job at HK MTR that paid 3 times as much. His resignation followed significant difficulty with indifferent politicians and seemed to be punctuated by his last in-person encounter with Governor Cuomo: getting passed over after travelling to the governor's office. Unlike here where the seat of state government is less than a kilometre away from transit headquarters, Walder had travelled to the capitol 2.5 hours by train upstate to see the governor.