RTAC Letterhead


Memorandum for the Record

Regional Transportation Advisory Council Meeting

December 9, 2020, Meeting Minutes

2:30 PM–4:15 PM, Zoom

Scott Zadakis, Vice Chair, representing the National Rural Transit Assistance Program

Meeting Agenda

1.    Introductions

Scott Zadakis, National Rural Transit Assistance Program, called the meeting to order at 2:30 PM. Members and guests attending the meeting introduced themselves. (For attendance list, see page five.)

2.    Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) Study Ideas—Sandy Johnston, UPWP Manager, MPO Staff

Sandy Johnston, MPO staff, explained that the UPWP is the process and the resulting document that decides how the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will spend the pot of money it gets from the federal government each year. He said that most of the money goes to administering the core functions of the MPO:

·       Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)

·       Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)

·       Transportation Equity programs

·       Congestion Management Process

·       Travel demand modeling

S. Johnston explained that a certain amount of money is left over each year with which the MPO carries out studies and technical assistance programs. He described two main categories the MPO uses to shape and consider these suggestions for studies:

·       Discrete studies—Larger one-time analyses on topics that target regional or subregional interest rather than being targeted at one community

·       Technical assistance—Programs targeted at smaller interests, such as a single bus route or intersection; for example, the Community Transportation Technical Assistance (CTTA) program and the Complete Streets program

S. Johnston said the study ideas can be either project oriented or more conceptual, such as regional best practices or data gathering that can guide the vision for the region’s transportation future. He explained that, ultimately, the analyses done through the UPWP will help the MPO update strategic goals and objectives and shape the next LRTP.


Andy Reker, City of Cambridge; S. Zadakis; Laura Wiener, City of Watertown; John McQueen, WalkBoston; AnaCristina Fragoso, Boston Society of Civil Engineers; and S. Johnston discussed how municipalities and other transportation planning organizations should deal with various aspects of the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. They agreed that more data should be gathered about ridership numbers of smaller public transit programs. They also discussed how COVID-19 measures that target shared spaces—such as outdoor dining, ventilation, and cleaning protocols—would be dealt with going forward.

David Montgomery, Town of Needham, and Lenard Diggins, Chair, representing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Ridership Oversight Committee, discussed the need for simplified access to research and innovative projects conducted by MPOs all around the United States.

A. Reker and S. Johnston discussed how diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives should affect municipal planning efforts.

Marilyn Wellons, Riverside Neighborhood Association, said she anticipates that bicycling will continue to increase in importance and that planning and policies related to bicycling should not be protected from genuine scrutiny with regard to expenditures and negative effects.

L. Diggins said he would like to see studies on two topics:

·       How much people are walking and the potential impact of increased walking

·       The impact of tiny “smart” cars and whether their shared use should be encouraged through policy

3.    Review of the Community Connections (CC) Program Pilot—Sandy Johnston, UPWP Manager, MPO Staff

S. Johnston explained that Community Connections is the Boston Region MPO’s funding program for first- and last-mile solutions and other small, nontraditional transportation projects. He said the most important lesson learned from the program’s pilot year has been that most of the MPO’s partner agencies are not currently well suited to administering very small projects.


J. McQueen and S. Johnston discussed whether the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s Collective Purchasing programs could be used to purchase snow removal equipment for use on public sidewalks and multi-use paths.

L. Diggins asked for clarification about the prohibitive administrative burden of the small projects funded in the CC program’s pilot year. S. Johnston said that the source of this feedback was mostly the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Highway Division.

Franny Osman, Acton Transportation Advisory Committee, asked for clarification about what types of projects are considered ideal for funding through the CC program. S. Johnston said the criteria for scoring proposed CC projects are still being refined; he then gave some examples of the types of programs the MPO is currently accepting applications for:

·       Bus location systems and e-ink arrival countdown signs

·       Supportive infrastructure for bicycling

·       Leasing parking lots for park-and-ride

·       New payment systems

·       Microtransit services

·       Education on how the Boston Region transit system works

4.    Federal Fiscal Years (FFYs) 2022–26 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) Universe of Projects—Matt Genova, TIP Manager, MPO Staff

Matt Genova, MPO staff, gave a timeline of the FFYs 2022–26 TIP Universe of Projects development process. He then listed the new TIP and CC pilot projects that were programmed for FFYs 2021–25. M. Genova explained that cost overrun issues last year severely limited the MPO’s ability to fund new projects in the prior round, leaving many scored projects unprogrammed. He then summarized the full TIP project development process—from ideation through construction.


D. Montgomery, F. Osman, L. Diggins, and M. Genova discussed how towns and cities can best navigate bringing a project through the design and funding processes. M. Genova said that certain types of projects—for example, major repaving or bridge repair—are a better fit for the MassDOT than for the MPO.

L. Diggins and M. Genova discussed whether project ideas get generated from the LRTP Needs Assessment.

5.     Discussion: Chapters 1 and 2 of the Needs Assessment for Destination 2040Lenard Diggins, Chair

L. Diggins briefly summarized the contents of Chapters 1 and 2 of the Destination 2040 Needs Assessment. He also discussed the value of having Advisory Council members gain familiarity with the Needs Assessment.

6.    Chair’s Report—Lenard Diggins, Chair

L. Diggins mentioned some topics from recent MPO meetings:

·       MBTA plans to shift some capital funding to operations, which the MPO needs to approve

·       Updated MPO Disparate Impact and Disproportionate Burden policy

·       TIP Universe of Projects for FFYs 2022–26

7.    Approval of Meeting Minutes

A motion to approve the minutes of the November 13, 2019, and December 11, 2019, meeting was postponed due to a technical problem.

8.     Old Business, New Business, and Member Announcements

There were no items.

9.    Adjourn 

A motion to adjourn was made by the Acton Transportation Advisory Committee (F. Osman) and seconded by the Town of Needham (D. Montgomery). The motion carried.



Member Municipalities

Representatives and Alternates

City of Cambridge

Andy Reker

Town of Needham

David Montgomery

City of Watertown

Laura Wiener


Member Citizen Advocacy Groups

Representatives and Alternates

MBTA Ridership Oversight Committee (ROC)

Lenard Diggins

National Rural Transit Assistance Program

Scott Zadakis

Acton Transportation Advisory Committee

Franny Osman

American Council of Engineering Companies

Fred Moseley

Association for Public Transportation

Barry Steinberg

Boston Society of Civil Engineers (BSCES)

AnaCristina Fragoso


Jon Seward


John McQueen


Agencies (Non-Voting)


MassDOT Aeronautics

Steve Rawding


Other Attendees


Sid Kashi

Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.

Todd Kirrane

Town of Brookline

Marilyn Wellons

Riverside Neighborhood Association


MPO Staff/Central Transportation Planning Staff

Matt Archer

Sandy Johnston

Matt Genova


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
Boston Region MPO
10 Park Plaza, Suite 2150
Boston, MA 02116

By Telephone:
857.702.3700 (voice)

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.