Memorandum for the Record
Regional Transportation Advisory Council Meeting
March 10, 2021, Meeting Minutes
2:30 PM–4:15 PM, Zoom
Lenard Diggins, Chair, representing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Ridership Oversight Committee
Lenard Diggins called the meeting to order at 2:30 PM. (For attendance list, see page four.)
Sandy Johnston, MPO staff, discussed the initial list of study concepts to be considered for inclusion in the FFY 2022 UPWP by the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
Franny Osman, Acton Transportation Advisory Committee; AnaCristina Fragoso, Boston Society of Civil Engineers; and S. Johnston discussed the North–South Rail Link and why it was not included in this initial list of potential studies.
John McQueen, WalkBoston, and S. Johnston discussed the SouthWest Advisory Planning Committee (SWAP) municipalities’ distribution centers mitigation topic. They also discussed the congestion pricing study topic, including the likelihood that federal funding might become available.
A.C. Fragoso and S. Johnston discussed whether the “COVID-19 Recovery” topic could include a study on hygiene control on shared and mass transit. They and Matthew Petersen, TransitMatters, also discussed the electrification topic and whether a new study has utility beyond the ongoing bus electrification project in Quincy.
John Strauss, Town of Burlington, and S. Johnston discussed the topics of “Innovative Transit Financing” and “Microtransit Tracking”; they also discussed the Mobility Working Group and the scope of their work.
Chris Porter, MassBike, and S. Johnston discussed whether studies on travel demand model enhancements get funded through the UPWP or through other internal MPO budgets.
M. Petersen suggested a study of alternative solutions for urban freight and retail delivery.
Matt Genova, MPO staff, presented a summary of the MPO’s anticipated available funding during each FFY from 2021 through 2026. He also discussed results of the annual TIP Readiness Day meeting in February, including the decisions to delay funding on certain projects. M. Genova explained the impact of unanticipated combined cost increases of more than $97 million for projects previously programmed for FFYs 2021–25; he then listed baseline assumptions that MPO staff will use going forward in the current TIP:
· All project cost changes are included
· All current funding commitments are retained
· Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) recommendations for project schedule changes are executed
· Four percent annual inflation added beginning with FFY 2023
M. Genova said the MPO would be slightly over budget for committed expenditures for FFYs 2021–26; this is the case even though no new projects have been programmed for FFY 2026. M. Genova explained that, because the TIP cannot operate over budget during any given FFY, MPO staff are beginning to make adjustments to the TIP so that expenditures for each year will be within budget. M. Genova summarized a “Scenario #1” approach to meeting budget constraints, which would aim to continue funding all previously programmed projects; he explained that this “Scenario #1” approach could mean no funding for new projects for FFY 2026.
M. Genova said the unanticipated project cost increases are mostly due to a few factors:
· Unit price increases
· Misconceptions surrounding contingencies
· Scope changes
· Outdated project designs
M. Genova said discussions on the TIP at upcoming MPO meetings will need to address some overarching questions in lieu of the unanticipated cost increases:
· Continue policy of covering cost increases?
· Maintain funding commitments to all current projects?
· Create funding capacity for adding new projects?
M. Petersen, Sheila Page, Town of Lexington, A.C. Fragoso, and M. Genova discussed a few questions:
· Is the expectation of four percent annual inflation accurate?
· How will the four percent be calculated for multiyear projects?
· What is the likely fate of projects that get moved to a later year?
· How much of the cost overrun problem is due to design consultants?
Chris Porter discussed whether the Advisory Council’s Membership Committee should set a term limit on individuals from each membership organization to encourage turnover and new ideas.
L. Diggins said he thinks term limits on membership should only be considered when there is an overabundance of current members, which is not the case now.
A.C. Fragoso said she thinks the continuity of long-time members is a positive because of how long some projects take to complete. F. Osman added that she finds long-time membership a positive because of the networking and learning needed to have an informed opinion.
A.C. Fragoso and M. Petersen discussed the difficulty of getting new members to attend since meetings are during business hours and membership is voluntary and unpaid.
David Montgomery, Town of Needham, said he thinks that efforts to bring in new members should not focus on term limits; rather, he suggested encouraging member towns and organizations to rotate the representative party they send to meetings and also bringing in towns and organizations not currently represented on the Advisory Council.
A motion to approve the minutes of the December 11, 2019, and January 8, 2020, meetings was postponed to give members adequate time to review them.
The meeting was adjourned.
Representatives and Alternates
Town of Needham
Member Citizen Advocacy Groups
Representatives and Alternates
MBTA Ridership Oversight Committee (ROC)
National Rural Transit Assistance Program
Acton Transportation Advisory Committee
Boston Society of Civil Engineers (BSCES)
Town of Burlington
Town of Lexington
MPO Staff/Central Transportation Planning Staff
The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) operates its programs, services, and activities in compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, and related statutes and regulations. Title VI prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs and requires that no person in the United States of America shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin (including limited English proficiency), be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives federal assistance. Related federal nondiscrimination laws administered by the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, or both, prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, sex, and disability. The Boston Region MPO considers these protected populations in its Title VI Programs, consistent with federal interpretation and administration. In addition, the Boston Region MPO provides meaningful access to its programs, services, and activities to individuals with limited English proficiency, in compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation policy and guidance on federal Executive Order 13166.
The Boston Region MPO also complies with the Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law, M.G.L. c 272 sections 92a, 98, 98a, which prohibits making any distinction, discrimination, or restriction in admission to, or treatment in a place of public accommodation based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or ancestry. Likewise, the Boston Region MPO complies with the Governor's Executive Order 526, section 4, which requires that all programs, activities, and services provided, performed, licensed, chartered, funded, regulated, or contracted for by the state shall be conducted without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, creed, ancestry, national origin, disability, veteran's status (including Vietnam-era veterans), or background.
A complaint form and additional information can be obtained by contacting the MPO or at http://www.bostonmpo.org/mpo_non_discrimination. To request this information in a different language or in an accessible format, please contact
Title VI Specialist
For people with hearing or speaking difficulties, connect through the state MassRelay service:
· Relay Using TTY or Hearing Carry-over: 800.439.2370
· Relay Using Voice Carry-over: 866.887.6619
· Relay Using Text to Speech: 866.645.9870
For more information, including numbers for Spanish speakers, visit https://www.mass.gov/massrelay