Moore working to expand public transportation regionally
October 22, 2012 ... As a member of the Legislature’s Regional Transportation (RTA) Caucus, Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, is advocating expanded public transportation in South Central Massachusetts. The annual report of the Caucus’ achievements is posted below.
Regional Transit Authority Caucus
Since the founding of the RTA Caucus, significant legislative priorities have been established and accomplished to allow the RTAs to operate efficiently and responsively. The 2011-2012 legislative session has sustained the success of past sessions and built upon those successes to continue an improved RTA transit system.
Funding. In 2012, the RTA Caucus was successful in providing the first funding increase for the RTAs since FY2009. The Caucus advocated for a $3.5 million increase to the RTA’s appropriation in the FY13 budget.
The Caucus also successfully argued that any new public transit funding solutions should improve transit statewide, not just the Metro Boston area. As a result, the RTAs received $3.5 million in one-time funds through Chapter 132 of the Acts of 2012, An Act Relative to Financing and Reforming Public Transportation in the Commonwealth. Through this act, the RTAs received $1.5 million from the surplus snow and ice budget and $2 million from the Motor Vehicle Inspection Trust Fund. The one-time funding provided relief for immediate funding short falls while the addition to the annual base ensured improved service stability for RTA riders.
The total FY13 funding increase of $7 million represents an overall 12% increase in state funding. Below is a spreadsheet outlining the increased funding by RTA.
State Funding for the RTA’s
Allocation of “We Can’t Wait” Federal Funds for 11 Projects at 10 RTAs. In October 2012, Governor Deval Patrick and MassDOT awarded $13.2 million to RTAs to make needed capital investments. This was accomplished through the Obama Administration’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative which allows states to allocate unused federal transportation earmarks for road and transit projects.
The funded projects include:
Funding for Para-transit Services In the FY13 budget, language was inserted to allow RTAs to secure federal reimbursement for customers utilizing para-transit services.
Building on the Success of the Past Few Years
Restoration of the Full Faith and Credit Backing for RTA Borrowings. This has allowed limited RTA resources to be directed to operations rather than interest payments. Because the RTAs are still retroactively reimbursed, borrowing occurs to cover current year operations. The full faith and credit provision has significantly stabilized the RTAs stance in the bond market place and for the second year the RTAs have borrowed at a rate of less than 1%.
Application of Federal Toll Credit For Capital. Use of the toll credit provision allows the RTAs to make some capital purchases and improvements using federal funds exclusively and relieve pressure for state capital funds.
This year building on the success in the past of matching existing RTA federal funds with toll credits; the RTAs embarked on a highly successful campaign to bring new nationally competitive US DOT discretionary grant funds into Massachusetts with the toll credit financing tool. The RTAs received discretionary grants for buses and vans, dispatch and ITS systems, alternative energy and green energy projects as well as repair and replacement of facilities. Without the toll credit match, the RTAs would not have had the opportunity to compete much less succeed in bringing these new federal funds into Massachusetts.