Funding

Podcast 23 - Alon Levy, Pedestrian Observations

We sat down with urban transit student and author of the popular Pedestrian Observations blog, Alon Levy, well known among advocates for his knowledge of best (and worst) practices in urban planning and transportation.

In a time of short-sighted cost-cutting and privatization efforts, it is refreshing to hear smart and effective ways to use our existing transportation assets. We spend some time debunking the myth that new technology like the Hyperloop or personal rapid transit will solve our problems. Instead, we know how to address our challenges using existing technology, for example, modernizing commuter rail, increasing core system capacity and upgrading the network to serve modern travel needs. Using electronics before concrete. And of course, we cover the MBTA's Control Board and the ongoing mess, including privatization, late night service, the Green Line Extension, North South Rail Link, and try to learn why construction costs so much.

And much more.

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 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.

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 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 13 - moving a vision for Boston's future transportation network

Podcast 13 - moving a vision for Boston's future transportation network

How will we get around in 15 years? What could our transit system and other public spaces look like if we develop goals and focus on achieving them? Do we even have that much time before the sea level rises and floods the whole city?

We debate these and many other questions on the future of transportation in Boston, as the city moves forward on developing a "visionary" and "transformative" action plan, GoBoston2030.

There's much we don't know yet, like how we'll communicate -- remember that 15 years ago smartphones didn't exist -- but one thing we know for sure is we'll have to move beyond fighting over every little project (and every single parking space!) and turn plans in processes so that change actually happens. And advocates like you and us need to make sure that happens!

Podcast 12 - MBTA Panel Report

We debate the recent MBTA report (PDF | Globe) commissioned by Governor Baker. Is it accurate? Are it's recommendations sound? What will happen now? Will we find new revenue sources and ways to improve transit, or will riders be forced to pay more for the same lousy service? These questions and many more from your trusted transit enthusiasts.

We'd love to hear what you think of the report. Did one of us get it completely wrong? Send us your questions, comments and ideas for topics or guests  Or share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Transit Matters Podcast is your source for transportation news, analysis, interviews and more. We focus on sustainable transportation planning, operations and policies in Boston and beyond. Transit Matters is a joint project of local transit advocates Marc Ebuña, Jeremy Mendelson and Josh Fairchild.

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Looking for more transit content? Check out the redesigned Critical Transit with a full archive of past shows.

When Does "Operational Efficiency" Mean a Better MBTA?

When Does "Operational Efficiency" Mean a Better MBTA?

Recently, a certain lobbying group has been arguing that the MBTA shouldn't be judged by how many people use it to get around, but rather by how many dollars it costs to run a vehicle for an hour or a mile. This cost per mile argument follows on the heels of their recently debunked assertion the that T is overfunded as compared to other transit agencies when looking at cost per trip. Those cost per trip comparisons didn't really make sensebecause they tried to compare the T to transit systems which provide vastly different services, which require different levels of investment to serve different populations (i.e., some agencies run only local bus or rail service, while the T does all of those, plus regional commuter rail, express buses, ferries, etc.).

So let’s address the cost per mile metric...