Approved Advisory Board Meeting Minutes
The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) Advisory Board met on Monday, June 20, 2016 at 3:00 pm, at 15 Blandin Avenue, Framingham, MA, at the call of
Jay Marsden, Advisory Board Clerk/Holliston, filling in for Joe Nolan, Chair/Wayland. In attendance were:Edward Carr/MWRTA Administrator, Patrick Moynihan/MWRTA
Counsel, Jay Marsden, Acting Chair & Clerk/Holliston, Ed Burman/Ashland, Cheryl Tully
Stoll/Framingham, Debra Galloway/Sudbury, James Errickson/Natick, Toni Wolf/Weston, Brian Herr/Hopkinton, James Gorman/Sherborn, Nick Milano/Marlborough, Kathleen Bartolini/Southborough, Ellen Gibbs/Wellesley, Jack Hunter/Hudson, William Buckley/Milford
MWRTA Consultant: John Glynn.
MWRTA Staff: Eva Willens, Linda Murtagh, Carl Damigella, Sara White, and Joy Glynn. Kiessling Transit: Chuck Curran.
Community Attendance: Harold Rhodes/Milford, Melissa Galton/Chair of Weston COA The meeting was called to order at 3:05 pm.
Mr. Marsden declared a quorum was present.
Joe Nolan is unable to preside over this meeting, therefore, Jay Marsden will preside as Chair in his absence.
A motion was made by Jay Marsden: To approve the last meeting minutes of the Advisory Board.
Second: Toni Wolf. The vote was unamious, noting four abstentions.
A request was made by Jay Marsden to hear any public comments or questions from the audience.
Melissa Galton, Chair for the Weston Council on Aging (COA), spoke on behalf of the Weston COA, requesting that the MWRTA delay implementation to October 1st, for the transfer of MBTA Ride Service in Weston to the MWRTA, which is scheduled for July 1st.She stated that the membership needs more time and information, to review the impact this change will have on the town residents. Ms. Galton stated that the Weston COA just learned of the service change from town residents on April 24th and were caught off guard. The riders received a letter from the MWRTA, yet the Town Manager, COA and residents were not aware. We have not seen any public hearings or negotiations.Weston does not currently, have any MWRTA services in town and these residents rely on the Ride Service.
The Advisory Board requested the Administrator meet off-line with Toni Wolf (Town ofWestonAdvisory Board Rep) and Melissa Galton (Weston COA Rep) to discuss.
The Administrator offered to answer any questions the Advisory Board has at this time.
Mr. Marsden tabled the matter stating that it would be taken up under Board Member Comments later in the meeting.
The MWRTA Staff is preparing for the transition of the Fixed Route Service from Waverly Street to Blandin Avenue.
The CNG Filling Station is taking shape.We are moving forward with the approval for the CNG Operator. The CNG Fueling Facility should be operational for municipalities, in late 2017.
Current operating focus is on Milford and Husdon, as state funds should be coming available for both of these communities.
FY17 Blandin Intermodal Connection – Rails with Trails – has taken shape.This is a safe and accessisble walkwayfromthe Blandin Hub, out to Waverly Street. The Framingham Commuter Rail Station will be next.
A completion goal of November 2016 is targetted forthe completion of the Veterans Monument. A photo has been handed out to provide you with some perspective. Once complete, this will be part of the Intramodal Connection. The Veterans wish to convey their thanks to the Board for this project.
CNG Operator Services Recommendation from the Evaluation Committee:
Legal Counsel indicated the bidding for the CNG Operator Services RFP went through a public process and we received two proposals. The bidders were: AVSG LP and Clean Energy.
The Evaluation Committee selected and recommended AVSG LP and the Administrator has approved moving forward with negotiations for a CNG Operating Contract with AVSG LP.
The Administrator would like the board’s authorityto proceed with AVSG LP contract negotiations.
A: AVSG had very good references from MassHighway, Worcester Regional Transit Authority, Eversource, as well as local references. The other company Clean Energy, is a national company.
Q: How does the Operational Contract work?
A: CNG Operator Service is a 10 year contract. They will pay us from revenue profits. MWRTA made the capital investment, which reduces some of the risk for operations. We will market to the communities with the participation of AVSG. AVSG has fleets now that they service. MWRTA is in discussions with Mass Highway in Worcester.
Motion made by Jay Marsden:To approve the CNG Operator Services contract with AVSGLP as the apparent and successful bidder.The MWRTA Advisory Board authorizes the Administrator to negotiate and enter into contract with AVSGLP for the amount bid on the contract.
Second: Ed Burman. No opposition. The vote was unanimous.
Two schedules were provided to the Advisory Board for its consideration. The first schedule isa revision to the 2016 budget. Each year the auditor asks that management obtain approval for a revised budget which is more in keeping with actual activity.
The second schedule is the proposed budget for FY17. Mr. Glynn requested Advisory Board approval of the FY17 budget and noted that the proposed budget anticipated Weston/Wellesley transition into our ADA program.
Adjustments to FY 2017 budget will bemadein the event Weston does not participate. Discussion:
Q:The FY 16-17 Budget is going up across the board, is our ridership going up also? A: Yes.
Q: What is the metric/cost per ride?
A: Fixed Route ~$5 subsidy; Demand Response ~$25/ride.Every year our ridership has increased by double digits, with the exception of last year at 9%. Industry standard is an average2% increase. More people were taking advantage of the Charlie Card method of fare payment instead of cash, which also means theyare anticipating regular usage.
Q: Why has the expense amount grown in the Call Center?
A: The Call Center is growing exponentially. MWRTA is reaching out to incorporate the Centralized Reservation System with Holliston, Natick, Sudbury and other member communities.
Q: Why has the expense amount grown in the Administrative area?
A: We are growing in staff and transitioningto meet the needs ofthe facilities. When the Fixed Route comes to Blandin Avenue, there will besome consolidation.
Q: Are there any problems you foresee in the next couple years that weneed to be aware of?
A: Once we get the Centralized Dispatching into play we will see some economies of scale, working with Montachusett Area Regional Transit (MART) who is a broker working for the Dept of Health and Human Services to bring in some HST (Human Service Transportaion) revenue which allows us to do more ride sharing opportunities, and CNG will come into play.
Technology has helped us to get in this business. Insurance and fuel would be the main worries; we have the fuel under control with CNG, then we may sell enough CNG to offset the insurance. As we do Demand Response $25-30 per person per ride.
Q: Is the Vets Hospital Shuttle Grant depleted?
A:Yes, the MWRTA has found another way to keep it funded.
Q: When do wediscuss Weston and howit will impact the budget?
A: We can revise the budget after July1st. We need to votethis budget, determine if Weston will or will not participate, then we will vote again to incorporate Weston’s decision if and/or when Weston will come on board.
Wellesley noted they have received many calls with regard to the July 1stdeadline.
Noted:The Local Assessment number is reflecting the additional communities. The State Contract Assistance (SCA) is reflected in this number, we will use grant funds judiciously.
Motion made by Ed Burman: To approve the adjustment with respect to the revised FY2016 budget.
Seconded: Deb Galloway. No opposition.The vote was unanimous.
Motion made by Jay Marsden: Motion to vote to approve the FY2017 Budget.
Under Massachusetts General Laws, c. 30B, prior to disposing of public property, that property must be declared available for disposition by the agency’s governing board. Once declared available for dispostion, the Authority under both state and federal law (which also applies in this case because federal funds were used for the acquision of the property), must then determine the value of the property (minimum acceptable bid price) through an independent appraisal and review appraisal. Once the price is established the Authority will solicit competive proposals through advertisement inthe local paper and the Central Register. Motion made by Jay Marsden: To declare 37 Waverly Street, Framingham, available for disposition.
Seconded by: Ed Burman. No opposition. The vote was unanimous.
Mr Carr noted that there maybe an opportunity to swap 37 Waverly Street for something of equal value under a three-way arrangement with the Town of Framingham and an entity downtown, which would be of significant benefit to the Town of Framingham and its effort to revitalize the downtown area. Those discussions are on-going, but in the meantime the Authority wanted to carry-out its procedural obligations to dispose of the property either through a swap or an out-right sale. Board Members: Requested a letter be sent to the Town of Framingham to make them aware of the status of the 37 Waverly Street property.
MWRTA Generated Redevelopment: Phase I was the improved parking at the Banana Lot to allow access for our buses. Phase II is in discussion to take over the Commuter Rail Station, the parking lots and the adjacent “Y” (open space). Due to liability issues, the platforms would remain the responsibility of the MBTA and Keolis, its commuter rail service operator. This proposed shift of station and parking lot management from the T to the MWRTA will be beneficial to the Town of Framingham, MBTA operations and the commute rail passengers.
Q:What benefit is this to the MWRTA?
A: Part of the MWRTA’s mission is to improve access to public transportation. Taking over responsibility of the station and the parking will enhance service tothe Authority’s passengers whoutilize commuter rail and others accessing this service. It was noted that the T performs ~1400rides/day and Framingham is the 10th most popular station within the MBTA. MWRTA wants to clean up the area and have a presence, to provide better access and improve public safety. If a call is placed, the MBTA police will not come to Framingham. We will take the funds from parking then share the revenue after expenses. We will pay attention to the business everyday. Provide better signage, branding, and keep it clean. MWRTA will receive RTACAP funds from the MBTA along with revenues from parking in a separate budget. The Commuter Rail Station will operate on a five year operating lease.
Q: Revenue analysis; how do we know this is a net neutral amount?
A: MWRTA will provide this information along withsupporting data when the Advisory Board is requested to approve the lease.
Q: What will this cost the MWRTA? Whatif there is significant exposure that may notbe discovered until we are in there, then it needs to be fixed, what are the capital expenditures?
A: MWRTA plans to build 250 new parking spaces inth “Y”. Currently there are 167 spaces in the Banana Lot and approximately 100 across the street which the Town of Framingham leases from the MBTA. It is anticipated that the revenue from the parking will cover expenses. In addition, the Authority has obtained $2.3M in RTACapital funds for the “Y” parking lot construction. It was also pointed out that the MWRTA has the right to get out of the lease at anytime. This is a 5 year contract, and it is in the best interest of the Authority.
Motion made by Jay Marsden: The Advisory Board allows the MWRTA to enter into lease negotations with the MBTA for the Town of Framingham T Station.
Second: Deb Galloway. No opposition. The vote was unanimous.
Harold Rhodes of Milford: The town of Milford recently passed the vote for public transportation. The MWRTA Administrator worked with the town of Milford along with Carl Damigella, Sara White and Eva Willens.The town is very pleased to have the Route 6 bus coming to Milford, we are looking forward to our relationship with MWRTA, and we want to thank you for your efforts.
Jack Hunter introduced himself as the new rep from Hudson, Director of Community and Development, and previously Chair of Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA).
Jim Gorman of Sherborn COA introduction.
Nick Milano of Marlborough introduction. Ellen Gibbs of Wellesley:
Q: How will the Ride passengers transfer to get into Boston? Do they transfer at Riverside? Could the MWRTA possibly provide additional outreach information and better communication so that people have an understanding about this change?
A: The MWRTA failed to an extent, to inform the customers of this transition and we were also hamstrung by privacy issues. We sent a letter to MBTA customers receiving the ride in Wellesley,Weston, and Dover with a release form requesting customer information. If any questions, they were to call Lisa Long in the MWRTA Call Center. Our ride cost is lower than the MBTA. The T has been talking about pulling this service out of those communities. We provide a good and safe service, we care about the customers, and through this change (which is being implemented in conjunction with the MBTA) we are giving the MBTA customers an opportunity to come over to the MWRTA service. We are statutorily obligated to provide some of the service toWellesley through the ADA Laws, yet we are not statutorily obligated to provide this service to Weston or Dover. They are a members of the RTA, so we do have concerns about those riders. We are willing to step up, however, it is up to the town to make the determination whether or not they want the service.
Toni Wolf of Weston: I found out when residents utilizing the MBTA’s Ride service received letters informing them that MBTA Ride service will be terminated effective July 1st. I coordinated a meeting with the MBTA and MWRTA to communicate concern over the service, change then tried to figure out a resolution. MBTA is delaying some services until September 2016, but the piece of the local Ride will start on July 1st. The town, based on the Town Manager and the communication through the Chair of the Board of Selectmen, is requesting that the MBTA continue to provide all Ride service going forward. My concern, in talking with the MBTA, is that they feel the Town of Weston has received a reasonable compromise and it is pretty clear that the MBTA wants the MWRTA to pickup the service starting July 1st. If the town is in disagreement, my concern is the Weston residents will not receive any Ride services beyond July 1st. This is an issue the town is communicating. The Chair of the Selectmen makes the final decision. I have asked the Chair of the Board of Selectmen to write a letter informing the MBTA that the Town of Weston does not want to have the services that the MWRTA is offering. There is a challenge here now, I am feeling conflicted and worried thatWeston residents will not get service starting July 1st. I also feel that the MWRTA is coinflicted in terms of what they should or shouldn’t do. The Town is struggling trying to figure out what is in their best interest, but I’m not sure if holding out is in the Town’s best interest. I have offered a few scenarios, invited them to come to the MWRTA, meeting with staff at the Call Center to begin to start the process, yet there is no interest on the part of Weston leaders to come to the Call Center, or the MWRTA, to work things out.
Melissa Galton/Chair Weston COA: Ms. Galton stated that she is authorized by the Chair of the Board of Selectmen and by the Town Manager, to speak on behalf of Weston. She states thatshe would love to have a success story similar to Milford to implement a plan with the town. However, she respectfully disagrees with the Weston Representative to the Advisory Board that she did not just find out about this. She state that the Weston Representative has attended meetings since June of 2014, yet did not report this information to the town. Part of Weston is covered under the ADA Laws, 16% of our ridership is within the ¾ mile corridor of the MBTA Fixed Route Service. Like Wellesley, there issome obligation under the ADA Paratransit Laws for the MBTA to provide complementary service, within the time that the Fixed Route is running between 5 am to1 am. Weston’s concern is the MWRTA has proposed reduced hours of service (Saturdays, shorter weekly hours, no Sunday or holiday service). That puts the MBTA in violation of the law. As far as service being better than the T, she does not believe that reduced hours of service is better. She stated that town officials have a lot of concerns and questions and do not feel this has been a fair process. They would have liked to have had more information and time. The Weston COA Chair indicated that there was a meeting in May with the Weston Advisory Rep, yet she has not advocated forthe Town as well as she could have. Two meetings were recently proposed with in the last month: 1)a community meeting and 2) a call center meeting. She stated that Weston is feeling bullied and would like additional time to assess how this will impact our riders.
MWRTA: 1) Mr. Carr stated thatthe MBTA has suggested that service may not be available inthe future due to funding constraints. MWRTA, if directed by the Chair of the Weston Board of Selectmen and the Weston Advisory Board Member, to backoff on service in Weston, he will do that. The MWRTA’s proposal was, whoever is getting the service now, will continue to get the same level of service. They will be grandfathered in to continue to receive service from 5 am to 1 am. New customers will go to our standard hours of service. We are still providing that grandfathered service to Natick and Framingham Ride passengers 10 years later. 2) Weston will get a better service from the MWRTA, T will not take you west, 18% (not 16%) that MBTA is mandated to provide complementary ADA service.
Weston COA: I have a problem with the grandfathered and nongrandfather because now we are creating two classes of disabled residents in our town. Only 16% of the residents in Weston are qualified ADA the other 84% are premium riders beyond the MBTA extended rules and regs.
Weston Advisory Board Rep: Want to be sure the town is willing to take the risk if the MBTA does not step up as of July 1st.
Weston COA: MBTA hasn’t said that they are not going to do it as of July 1.
MWRTA: Mr. Carr stated that there is a risk, we don’t want you to take that risk. The service you would be getting on July 1st is actually better than the service you are getting now.
Weston COA: Are you saying that down the road you would never be willing to provide this service to Weston, if we don’t take it today?
MWRTA: Mr. Carr stated that never is alongtime.
Weston COA to Board: We are not comfortable with the threat of that. Please do not make a decision to transfer the service over on July 1 for Weston.
Weston Advisory Board Rep: Want to be sure you are comfortable with the risk that if the MBTA does not step up there will be no service available for people on July 1. For the record, I do not feel comfortable with that decision.
Advisory Board: Suggested the MWRTA Administrator have an offline meeting with Weston COA Chair and Weston Advisory Board Rep to sort out internally with the guidance of the MWRTA as both of these representatives are in disagreement and need to get on the same page. A recommendation for a motion to table this discussion for a future date (after July 1) to amend to get the position of Weston clarified.
Motion made by Brian Herr: To table action on this matter for further consideration a to future date, until such time that the Representatives from Weston have a meeting with the MWRTA Chair, and then bring it back as a future agenda item. Amended: As a result of this meeting, that the MWRTA Advisory Board be advised in writing, as to who is representing the Town of Weston’s official position on this issue and in what capacity.
MWRTA Legal Counsel: This is an MBTA decision, the MWRTA Advisory Board is essentially making a suggestion. Toni Wolf is the Advisory Board member from Weston. MWRTA Advisory Board is directing the Administrator not to provide service to Weston as of July 1st, until such time as they come back asking for it. If the MBTA (inthe interim) decides not provide the service, there won’t be service beyond that which is required of the 16% or 18% of the riders who get it regardless. Additionally, we do not know how long they will be without service until this board can get together with a quorum. If the board is comfortable directing the Administrator not to provide the service until this is sorted out, that is essentially what the vote is. Otherwise, as some of the members have expressed, the Authority is in the middle here as what is or is not going to be provided to the Town of Weston as of July 1. If people are willing to rely on the MBTA to continue to provide that service, as it appears the Weston COA Rep is willing to do, that is fine, as long as everyone understands that is essentially the action that you are taking here.
Q: Are we opening ourselves up to any liability by not offering that service, are we under contract to provide that service to the Town of Weston?
A: No, it’s really the MBTA’s decision.
Seconded by: Ed Burman. No opposition.The vote was unanimous.
Sudbury: The Sudbury Town Meeting was held on June 13th for retail property in Marlborough that will bring 525 residents to Avalon. This will be a proposed assisted living community which provides senior housing with 250 apartment units that are 25% affordable, and they are allocating space for a bus stop inside the circle!
Motion made by Jay Marsden: To adjourn the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:35pm.
Next meeting to be scheduled in July or August 2016.
Advisory Board Meeting - August 5 2016
Advisory Board Meeting - April 4 2016
Dial a Ride:
We're on Twitter!