Podcast 21a - Young Professionals Study & the Governor's Performance with Rich Parr

Our resident polling expert, Rich Parr joins us from the MassINC Polling Group to let us know what people think about Governor Baker and his handling of the MBTA, as well as a new study from the Urban Land Institute on the preferences and lifestyles of "millennials". In this case, the focus is on college educated young professionals and what kinds of housing, transportation and work environments they seek.  If this study is any indication, transportation choices are changing rapidly and reflect a desire to use transit. But you knew that, right?

Tune in for two hours of fascinating analysis and commentary on our changing demographic patterns and lifestyles, split into two episodes for a more convenient listening experience, and just in time to distract you from the holiday traffic delaying your bus on the highway. Be sure to download both episodes, 21a and 21b.

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.

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Podcast 20 - Advocacy Updates: Fares, Late Night Service, Commuter Rail, GLX and Service Planning to make the MBTA network more effective

Podcast 20 - Advocacy Updates: Fares, Late Night Service, Commuter Rail, GLX and Service Planning to make the MBTA network more effective

This show is focused on MBTA advocacy, with the full crew sharing our thoughts on some of the things in the media lately, and which we've been working on.

Fares increases are proposed again despite the absence of a vision for upgrading and growing our network. It's hard to ask people for more money without real improvements. Some say we should give discounts to low-income riders and raise fares for everyone else. We explore why a two-tier transit system is a terrible idea that will lead to a death spiral and actually impact the poorest riders most. Also, if a transit fare is not a tax, is it a fee?

The MBTA board (FMCB) has proposed eliminating up to 28 bus routes, largely without any analysis of what these routes do or how they operate.  A better approach is to figure out why some routes are expensive and/or attract low ridership, such as poor service quality (on-time performance, frequency, connections) and many seem to be designed to fail. The existing late night service is one example, but rather than get rid of it, service should be vastly improved and expanded to full overnight service (don't forget the early morning needs!). Commuter rail come up too.

We talk about the importance of good service planning, the different levels of planning, and how we can not only make small routine changes but also design a better network. Aside from service cuts, no routes have changed since 2008 and a comprehensive review has never been done, even though travel patterns have changed a lot since the 1964 creation of MBTA. Most routes do not meet basic service standards like crowding and on-time performance. How can we plan for upgrades?

The Green Line Extension is way over budget and horribly mismanaged, largely due to schedule pressures, not enough MBTA staff to oversee this massive project (due to austerity) and as a result contractors scamming the T. Are we learning the lessons as the FMCB looks to cut the budget even more? We explain the importance of carrying out the GLX plan which was approved through an extensive public process, and how proposed project reductions would actually cause us to spend more in operating costs to run the line.

Transit Funding Panel sponsored by Budget For All MA

On October 24, 2015, Budget For All hosted a discussion on the state of transit in Eastern Massachusetts and strategies to achieve increased state and federal funding for the MBTA and other public transportation services.

TransitMatters believes that while cities should prioritize MBTA operations to make them faster and more efficient, our region is in desperate need of major transit investments to keep pace with soaring population and employment and rapidly growing ridership. These service improvements are not possible without significant additional revenue.

Find the audio files below, and see the full agenda here. My comments, about 22 minutes into Part 1, focuses on existing conditions and our vision for transit in Boston, then we answer some questions.

NOTE: If you don't see Parts 2 & 3, visit transitmatters.info/podcast.

Let us know your thoughts, ideas and suggestions, and get involved with Budget 4 All or Transit Matters to join the fight for high quality public transit for everyone. Feedback? Use the contact form, email feedback@transitmatters.info or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Podcast 18 - Transit Operations & Public-Private Partnerships with John Attanucci

We sit down with longtime transit consultant John Attanucci at the MIT Transit Lab to discuss some of the deficiencies in our transit network and how we could better design and manage it. We also learn about existing private transportation services and how they might help fill critical gaps in the MBTA network if the T remains unable to add or change its services. And we touch on the revenue question.

Fun fact: The single most important factor affecting bus reliability is leaving the starting point on time. What will it take to have 95% of all trips leaving at their scheduled time (or for the most frequent routes, at an even interval)?

Don't miss this month's Beer & Transit with former Governor Michael Dukakis. Full details and link to RSVP at transitmatters.info.

Podcast 17 - Commuter Rail: filling the gaps in local and regional transit

Podcast 17 - Commuter Rail: filling the gaps in local and regional transit

We turn our attention to the MBTA Commuter Rail network and how it must be be part of the solution to many of our local and regional transportation challenges. Regional rail is a very important component of the transit network in terms of tackling street and highway congestion and, if designed well, can actually fill both local and regional travel needs. With the North South Rail Link, many suburban rail lines combine for frequent, high capacity transit service in the city's core.

Frequent service on the Fairmount Line can open major new opportunities for Boston's chronically underserved areas and represents a smart transit investment. Also, why we should ditch the traditional park-and-ride model in favor of building infill stations to add new options in already dense places, improving walk access to existing stations, increasing span and frequency, and other things that will increase ridership... and no more suburban rail extensions! But yes to intercity bus service and the new MassDOT Bus Plus program!

We finish with a discussion of how to handle the delayed Green Line Extension, and we even found time to rant about rail shutdowns, shuttle buses, the Government Center fiasco and the reality that changing ridership patterns mean we're making all kinds of trips on the T at all hours.

Podcast 16 - Former MassDOT Secretary James Aloisi on the state of transit in Boston

Podcast 16 - Former MassDOT Secretary James Aloisi on the state of transit in Boston

Former MassDOT Secretary James Aloisi joins us to share his thoughts on the MBTA fiscal and management control board - how focusing on the bottom line distracts from improving and expanding our transit network - and how we can achieve a robust, efficient and egalitarian transportation system in an era of public sector austerity.

What reform could the T make to improve service? What does revenue mean and how do we get there? What can cities do? Can the private sector or “innovation” help us use real-time data more effectively to create a better regional transportation network? We review lessons from past political struggles, including the “four constituencies” of any project and challenges of trying to do things differently within structures designed to preserve the status quo. 

Podcast 15 - Amateur Planner on BRT, the MBTA report, Allston ...

Podcast 15 - Amateur Planner on BRT, the MBTA report, Allston ...

Ari Ofsevit, transit operations professional and the Amateur Planner, joins us once again to discuss how Governor Baker's MBTA Commission Report (full pdf) used unfair comparisons and erroneous data to push a specific right-wing agenda, whether privatization makes any sense at all (and why certain people argue for it), and a vision to actually stabilize the T and improve transit in Boston.

We focus heavily on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), with "gold standard" BRT being advocated in a recent report by the Barr Foundation. We explore what better bus service could look like in the context of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea and other cities where it's needed.