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Governor Charlie Baker

MassDOT April
Board Meeting

April 11
Transportation Building
10 Park Plaza
Suite 3830
Boston, MA 02150
Full Meeting Schedule

On the MassDOT Blog

Tinlin: Electronic Tolling to
Make Travel Safer,
Faster, Cleaner

By MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin

Massachusetts is a leader in the nation in utilizing new technology to improve the lives of residents, visitors and members of the business community, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is proud to be part of this effort.

Just as Worcester has evolved from a city with a manufacturing base to a city becoming known for biotech and information technology, so too is our transportation system evolving; and Worcester County residents need look no further than just down the road to see modernizations taking place with highway infrastructure.

The project to install All Electronic Tolling (AET) on I-90 from the New York border to Boston, the Tobin Bridge, Sumner/Callahan tunnels and Ted Williams tunnel is fully underway. This new tolling system will make travel safer, more efficient and reduce pollution. AETs are scheduled to be operational by the end of the year, and then Massachusetts will join 12 other states with having this convenient technology in place.

AET transactions will be processed either through E-ZPass or an invoice based on the license plate. Each time a vehicle drives under one of the new overhead gantries, the system will search for an E-ZPass transponder. If an E-ZPass is found, the system classifies the vehicle and charges the appropriate amount to the customer’s account. If no E-ZPass is found, a camera captures an image of the license plate. The license plate is either matched with the customer’s existing E-ZPass account or a bill is mailed to the address of the vehicle registration holder.

By eliminating the need to stop at a toll booth and pay a toll collector or reduce speed significantly to slow down and travel through a booth opening, congestion will be reduced, and there is reduced danger of rear collisions or side-swipe crashes as drivers navigate to the appropriate payment lanes. Motorists can drive at the posted travel speed right on through and below all the overhead gantries. This technology is expected to save between 500 and 2,500 gallons of gasoline per day, or 200,000 to 875,000 gallons annually.

This efficiency brings other, indirect benefits to the entire commonwealth. The reduction in gasoline usage is expected to lower greenhouse gas emissions by up to 7,800 tons per year. Using less gas and spending less time on the road is good for both businesses and commuters.

At the end of the year, we will have 16 gantry locations on I-90, replacing the current 25 tolling locations. AET will be revenue neutral. As Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack has stressed, we will have to set new rates because of the 16 gantry locations, but a driver traveling the length of I-90 will pay the rate as that driver pays now.

We have already issued a request for proposals to help us with the process of setting prices for getting on and getting off I-90 at various exits. A selection committee will soon evaluate the responses to the RFP and choose the traffic and revenue consultant to assist us with pricing issues. In addition, Secretary Pollack will appoint a taxpayer advocate.

We live at an exciting time for advances in the transportation sector, with improved safety features in vehicles, real-time data digital boards along roadways, and better-fabricated materials for use with road and bridge projects. Now we look forward to continue our efforts to use new technology and best practices to enhance the safety and quality of life for all members of the public.

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March 18

Registry of Motor Vehicles Streamlines Renewal Reminders by Mail

The MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicles announced a new customer communication is now arriving in mailboxes across the Commonwealth to help drivers manage their license renewal process.

"The greatest birthday present that the RMV can give to our customers is the gift of time," said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney. "This is a direct, concise communication that answers every customer’s first renewal question. Do I have to go to a branch?"

Each customer’s individual eligibility is spelled out on their personalized postcard if the customer may renew online at MassRMV.com or if the customer has to visit a branch.

This communication is intended to help customers avoid making unnecessary trips to a branch for business that can be done online. It is part of an effort by the RMV to respond to the customer demand for more convenient service options. During the month of April, 38,552 customers are up for license renewal, 61% of which are eligible for MassRMV.com online renewal. Approximately 276,000 license renewals were performed online at MassRMV.com in 2015. Customers are able to renew their license or identification card up to 12-months prior to expiration.

Customers with outstanding financial obligations will need to address issues, such as parking tickets, citation payments, and E-ZPass violations prior to renewal. Customers may check with status online using the Check My Status transaction.

The RMV had discontinued the renewal reminders in 2008 due to budget cuts. In response to customer demand, the reminders were originally revived in the fall of 2013. The Registry offsets the cost of the birthday mailing through the use of advertising.

Customers are advised to renew at least one week before their license expires so their new credential will arrive in the mail at their address. For customers who must visit a branch for a new photo, they may first complete their license renewal application online at MassRMV.com. Customers arriving at a branch with a completed application may proceed to the green READY TO GO line in the locations branches featuring the dual line customer service model.

There are a dozen AAA locations that offer Registry license renewal services to AAA members, including locations in: Burlington, Framingham, Hadley, Newburyport, Newton, Rockland, Saugus, Somerset, South Dennis, West Springfield, Westwood, and Worcester.


Green Line Extension Project Public Meetings

Green Line Extension public meetings continue next week, with meetings scheduled through early May in Cambridge, Somerville and Medford

The GLX project is proposed to extend the MBTA Green Line from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. The re-evaluation of the project was launched due to significant cost overruns, and the re-evaluation is expected to be completed and submitted to the T's Fiscal & Management Control Board in May.

The following is the schedule of public meetings:

The following is the schedule of public meetings:

Wednesday, March 23rd:
Open House: 5:30pm-6:30pm
Presentation and Q&A: 6:30pm-9:00pm
Tufts University Cohen Auditorium, 40 Talbot Avenue - Medford

Wednesday, April 13th:
Open House: 5:30pm-6:30pm
Presentation and Q&A: 6:30pm-9:00pm
Somerville High School Auditorium, 81 Highland Avenue - Somerville

Wednesday, April 27th:
Open House: 5:30pm-6:30pm
Presentation and Q&A: 6:30pm-9:00pm
St. Anthony's Parish Hall, 400 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue - Cambridge

Thursday, May 5th:
Open House: 5:30pm-6:30pm
Presentation and Q&A: 6:30pm-9:00pm
St. Clement's Parish Hall, 579 Boston Avenue - Medford

Learn more about the project by visiting the Green Line Extension website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@glxinfo.com


MBTA FY2017 Preliminary Budget Presented to FMCB

Through a series of cost containment measures and increases in ‘own source’ revenue, the MBTA's structural deficit has been reduced from an original forecast of $242 million to $80 million. The savings outlined in the agency’s $2.02 billion FY17 operating budget will be spent to improve the T's services so riders get the service they need and deserve.

At a meeting of the Fiscal and Management Control Board on Wednesday, March 16, MBTA staff reported that MBTA own-source revenue - driven primarily by advertising - has increased $10 million, while fare revenue is also expected to grow an additional $43 million due to a recently enacted 9.3 percent fare increase.

In addition to its revenue increases, the T expects $15 million in wage reductions from the implementation of its Payroll Reduction Plan. Overtime costs are also projected to drop 23 percent to $37 million in FY17, from $49 million under the FY16 recast budget.

"We are meeting the statutory requirement for a balanced budget but still continue to work to reduce the structural deficit with internal cost controls and higher own-source revenues," said MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve. The remaining $80 million structural deficit must be closed by the end of FY17 in order to avoid ballooning deficits in FY18 and beyond.

To eliminate its remaining $80 million structural deficit, the MBTA will pursue the following: wage and benefit savings; flexible contracting; reducing vendor costs; reforming high-subsidy, low ridership bus and commuter rail service lines; and increasing parking revenues.

"This is not a business-as-usual budget," said Shortsleeve. "We are going to put the T on a path to getting to balance."

An increase of $13 million in wages from collective bargaining agreements, and increased pension expenses of $14 million are accounted for in the budget. The budget also assumes the transfer of $100 million "Pay-go" capital and maintenance initiatives into the newly created FY16-17 Capital Maintenance Improvement Fund.

Pay-go funds can address major issues, such as upgrading old technology that contribute to delays in service, and completing Winter Resiliency work on track, rail and signals across the system.

"The FY17 budget is focusing on people and reliability," said MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola. "We are investing in people."

MBTA Fare Changes Provide Opportunities for Students

The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board’s recent fare change vote means expanded opportunities for students to take advantage of the region’s transit system for commutes to school, summer jobs and internships. The fare changes take effect July 1.

During a series of public hearings held by the MBTA, input was gathered from schools, parents and students about potential fare changes for commutes to school and extracurricular opportunities such as after-school jobs and internships. The FMCB acted to make it easier for students to get a monthly pass and expanding opportunities for their use.

The Changes Include:

  • Bulk discount for schools purchasing more than 1,000 passes a month.
  • Pilot allowing students to purchase the monthly pass on fare vending machines for the 2016-17 school year
  • Student Pass at $30 (12 months)

Under the current program, a student pass is only available through participating schools, not on fare vending machines, and only valid for 10 months out of the year.

Under the pilot program, schools would continue to verify eligibility and would agree to control distribution to prevent inappropriate use. The program would ensure that schools and the T can work together to reduce the risk of fraud or other misuse of the student cards.

Malden Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi said it would be of great help for his students, who rely on the T.

"I do believe that it’s a good thing for our students on a number of fronts. We have a very healthy dual- enrollment program with Bunker Hill (College), which would help us get students on campus to really help further the college experience," said DeRuosi. "Also, many of our students rely on public transit for employment purposes."

Scenarios Showing How Students Would Benefit:

  • A student attends Boston Public Schools. Because she lives more than two miles from her school, she gets a Student Pass from her school, but only during the school year. She can now buy the pass during the summer, saving her significant money as she uses the T to go to her summer job and activities.
  • Another student attends Boston Public Schools but lives just less than 2 miles from his school, meaning he does not have access to a Student Pass. Rather than paying per trip –which can cost more than $40 per month just for school trips -he can now buy the pass to take the MBTA to school, summer jobs, and extracurricular activities for $30 per month of roughly $1 per day.
  • A student attends Malden High School but her school doesn’t offer the Student Pass. She can now buy the pass through a fare vending machine to take the MBTA to school, summer jobs, and extracurricular activities.
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