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Advisory Board Meeting Minutes

Monday, September 28, 2015

The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) Advisory Board met on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm, at 15 Blandin Avenue, Framingham, MA, at the call of Mr. Joe Nolan, Chair.

In attendance were: Edward Carr/MWRTA Administrator, Patrick Moynihan/MWRTA Counsel, Joe Nolan, Chair/Wayland, Jay Marsden, Clerk/Holliston, Ed Burman/Ashland, Brian W. Murray/Milford, Christina Winterfeldt/Sherborn, Kathleen Bartolini/Southborough, Trish Pope/Marlborough, Cheryl Tully Stoll/Framingham, Deb Galloway/Sudbury.

Also in attendance: Harold Rhodes/Milford Community Member.

MWRTA Consultants: Lynn Ahlgren, Daniel Fitch and John Glynn.

MWRTA Staff: Eva Willens, Carl Damigella, Linda Murtagh and Joy Glynn.

Kiessling Transit Staff: Chuck Curran.

The meeting was called to order at 4:04 pm.

Joe Nolan declared a quorum was present, announced the agenda and requested a roll call.

Order of Business:

Minutes of the previous meeting:

A motion was made by Joe Nolan to waive the reading of and approve the previous minutes as stated.

Second by: Deb Galloway. No opposition The vote was unanimous.

Public Comments:

A request was made by Joe Nolan to hear any public comments or questions from the audience. Hearing none, the meeting proceeded.

Administrator’s Report:

Mr. Carr met with the MBTA on September 23rd to review Framingham Commuter Rail Station parking and the Framingham secondary spur that has been discussed as a bike/ped area. The MBTA will discuss an offer with the RTA to maintain and work with that entity.

Meeting next week with the MBTA to discuss Wellesley, Weston and Dover RIDE being serviced by the MWRTA, which would move the transfer point from Crouton St in Wellesley to Riverside on the green line, this will require outreach in the January timeframe.

Kiessling Transit, Inc. performing well and the transition went smooth.

Central Reservations includes Holliston, Sudbury, Employment Options in Marlborough, Natick.

Working with Human Services Transportation (HST) to offset some of our hourly Demand Response costs. Finalizing contracts and procedures this month, will be implementing more rides to drive down our Demand Response costs.

Collaborating with SMOC on transportation provisions, they will take some of the Demand Response volume from the MWRTA.

Transitioning some Fixed Routes to the new Hub @ Blandin.Ave. Route 4 already comes and 5/6 will be coming next week. Revamping Route 7A, 7B, and 7C in Marlborough; linking the Hudson COA with the Marlborough COA in order to allow them into the whole system.

Working with MathWorks in Natick to serve their new site at Cloverleaf Mall, as well as with the Natick Mall - Wegman’s will be moving into the former JC Penny. Routes 2, 3, 4 and 7 will continue to serve the Banana Lot. Route 8 will continue to serve Mass Bay and Wellesley.

In the process of working on three RFPs (Request for Proposals):

  • -Fixed Route RFP which expires on 6/30/2016 will be advertised late October early November;
  • -Construction of CNG Filling Station / Bus Wash (valued at $1M we have ~$2M to work with on separate grants);
  • -Independent CNG Operator (revenue source).

Incremental increase on the fares were discussed at the previous Board Meeting on June 8th. Public Hearings were held in July/August, articles were covered in-depth by the MetroWest Daily News, and it was posted on the MWRTA website. To date there have been no comments from the public. Originally this rate hike was scheduled for implementation in January 2016, yet the IT department has indicated this could be moved up to November 2015. Mr. Carr suggested to do this in order to build more revenues in the system.

Budget details, as requested by members of the Board, for July/August have been distributed.

Ridership Report

  • -Good news: overall we are up 8% in ridership, Fixed Route up 9%, does not cost the MWRTA anything to increase ridership;
  • -Bad news: Demand Response (DR) went up 4% in FY15.Every time DR goes up it costs the MWRTA ~$140,000, we need to hold DR as level as possible.
  • -Travel/Training transitions the riders to the Fixed Route from Demand Response and the MWRTA wants to keep working in that direction.

Questions to the Administrator:

Cheryl – What kind of revenue what do you expect from the CNG?

Ed – Short range, none. It will take time to build demand. Long range we will work with the provider. Long range we will convert 20% of our fleet each year to CNG, so that at the end of 5 years the MWRTA will be converted to CNG vehicles. This filling station will be available to the Town of Framingham, Natick, any other municipalities as well as the public.

Joe – $1M estimate for first CNG RFP is infrastructure and we are building our own customer base?

Ed – Yes, underground construction, so that we own the infrastructure, we have $1M+ CNG Grant + $700k of 5307 monies to fund the project build out, including the bus wash.

Cathy – How do communities work into the program and what will encourage the communities/municipalities to utilize the CNG?

Ed - Three years ago we performed a cost benefit analysis with cost of gas vs cost of CNG. CNG was less than half. The cost benefit at that time was a 4 year payback of this $1M, just in fuel. Many of the communities are interested, engaged, involved and the proximity is attractive.

Joe: The MBTA wants us to take over the RIDE in Wellesley, Weston and Dover, is that a daunting proposition from a fiscal standpoint?

Ed: They will provide sufficient funding to transition. Once we take it over, the growth and management is ours. This will come back to the board before it occurs. We have the assessment from Wellesley that we have not yet tapped into, we are currently using grant money to run the one Fixed Route in Wellesley.

Joe/Ed: Mathworks is relocating to the cloverleaf old Boston Scientific location – rebuilding of infrastructure in that area – we want to be sure there is a safe location for pick ups/drop offs.

Ed: Problem on Route 9 – not safe, drop off on one side cannot pick up from other side. According to recent local analysis by the 495 Partnership along with the MetroWest Daily News, the top transportation issue was Route 9 from Wellesley to Shrewsbury. Ten years ago, in 2004, the # 1 nightmare was lack of transportation, the RTA did not exist back then.

Joe: Implement the fare increase in November 2015, notices need to be placed on the buses at least 2 weeks ahead of time and the MWRTA needs to do some advertising. Any other budget questions? Do you want to explain anything?

Ed: MetroWest Daily News reads these minutes and may call me again to discuss the fare increase. The budget is 7% over, we transitioned from one model/building to another, some numbers in operating could be checked off to grants, which would make us 3.5% over budget. Our new model it going from trip to hourly rates, this will provide the ability to take on Human Service Transportation (HST). In the Commonwealth there is the RIDE ($100M of DR work) and there is Human Service Transportation ($100M of DR work – 99% federal funds/some state) where they contract out for people to do the work. MWRTA is in a position to take RIDES from HST and put them onto our RIDEs as a ridesharing component.

For example: If we received $20/ride from HST and we were paying $40/ride for one of our customers and we put one of these on, we would get $20 back which make our ride cost $20.

With this new model, by January we will most likely see some reverse in these numbers. HST is run by Health & Human Services – program / subscription work – DMR – Mass Health – PT1. There is demand, especially in rural areas, we are new to this type of business.

Old Business:

Administrator Evaluation Committee Recommendation:

Jay Marsden: Committee has met, signed and shared with Ed the great work he has performed. Goals for 2016 are:

  • -Focus on increase in route ridership
  • -Promote brand awareness of the organization
  • -Expand infrastructure and capital, with continued focus on fiscal responsibility, possibly disengage with Route 135 facility.

Joe: Ed, you have done an excellent job, this new facility is a testament to your leadership and direction. Copies of the Evaluation was provided to all board members. Two committees need to populate:

  • -FY16 External Audit Review Committee
  • -Administrator Contract Negotiator Committee

John Glynn: This year there is a new format in all RTA financial statements to comply with GASB68 unfunded liabilities for members who are in Retirement Systems; actuaries are getting numbers to Framingham, who needs to get numbers to the MWRTA. There is a conference call tomorrow morning @ 10:30 am with all the RTAs and the State Dept. of Transportation to see where we stand for issuing FY15 Financials, it may be put off to mid or end of the month. Our exit conference with the auditor is all fine, with the exception of developing a number for GASB68. When GASB68 is resolved, we can report back to this board with the final report.

Joe: Contract needs to be committed in January 2016 for Mr. Carr to renew as Administrator on July 1, 2016. Email Eva if you are interested in participating in either of these 3 person committees. We will form the two committees and have that work conducted prior to our next meeting so we can move forward on those two issues.

New Business:None.

Board Member Comments:

A motion was made by Debra Galloway to adjourn.

Second by: Jay Marsden. No opposition The vote was unanimous.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:34 pm

Next meeting to be scheduled in mid-January 2016.

###

Certificate

The undersigned being the duly qualified clerk of the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board, acknowledges that the foregoing minutes accurately reflect the actions taken at a legally convened meeting of the Advisory Board held on September 28, 2015.

Jay Marsden, Clerk

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