FY 2014 Budget Recommendation:
Issues in Brief
Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor
Transportation infrastructure is vital to creating sustainable economic growth, supporting job creation, and reducing the environmental and social impacts of congestion. Through reforms that enhance efficiency of existing resources, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) continues to do more with less. However, the Commonwealth’s transportation network has been underfunded by previous administrations for decades, creating a backlog of upgrades to transportation assets that have not been properly maintained.
Through a transformative initiative of reforms and new investments, the Patrick-Murray Administration will improve the Commonwealth’s transportation network and expand access to transportation infrastructure for all residents and businesses of the Commonwealth.
In 2007, the Patrick-Murray Administration made immediate investments in the system to begin to reverse decades of neglect. The Administration passed several transportation bond bills, including an Immediate Needs bond bill. And, the Administration launched a $3 B Accelerated Bridge program and significantly increased transportation investment in its capital plan. Despite those efforts, and three years of continuous transportation reform beginning with the 2009 Transportation Reform Bill, our transportation system cannot continue to provide adequate service to meet our needs under current funding levels. The Governor’s FY 2014 budget begins to reverse years of neglect by providing a major investment in the Commonwealth’s transportation assets to modernize and ensure the continued maintenance of this critical economic driver. The Governor’s FY 2014 budget will fund a statewide series of targeted capital investments, provide significant debt relief for the independent Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), forward-fund and enhance services at the 15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs), and stop the decades-old practice of using borrowed funds to pay for personnel and operations at MassDOT.
This investment is based on MassDOT’s report, titled “The Way Forward: A 21-st Century Transportation Plan.” The plan provides a detailed analysis of the infrastructure needs of the Commonwealth’s transportation system, including a ten year long-term financial plan outlining investments necessary to improve economic development and quality of life across the state. This plan explains how MassDOT will meet public demands for more and better transportation and do so in a way that is fiscally responsible now and for the future.
The plan recommends increasing the level of transportation capital investment by $13 B over the next ten years to create a state-of-the-art transportation network that is able to provide fast and reliable service while attracting and supporting sustainable economic growth in the future. With this investment, the Patrick-Murray Administration will:
In addition to the Patrick-Murray Administration’s increased capital investment, $269 M is included in the Governor’s FY 2014 operating budget recommendations, which represents a phased in approach to funding the $650 M need highlighted in the “The Way Forward: A 21-st Century Transportation Plan.”, and that will:
In addition to this critical investment, MassDOT will continue to improve its business practices to save taxpayers money. Following the passage of the 2009 transportation modernization law, MassDOT has made significant reforms to reduce personnel costs, avoid payments associated with high risk financial deals entered into by previous Administrations, and other steps to be cost effective in day-to-day decisions. The Commonwealth has saved over $500 M to date through transportation reforms.
Through a year-long, exhaustive public meeting process and stakeholder conversations, MassDOT has identified a number of additional reforms that could be implemented to meet those goals.
To improve efficiency, and consistent with the Commonwealth Performance, Accountability, and Transparency (CPAT) program undertaken by the Administration, MassDOT has begun a rigorous program of performance management. The agency has identified areas of improvement and is evaluating progress at achieving efficiency goals. Monthly accountability meetings that focus on the department’s performance are chaired by the Secretary of Transportation, and these meetings are open to the public on a quarterly basis.
Enhancing the Chapter 90 Program
MassDOT is supporting municipalities in their efforts to care for their transportation facilities by developing a statewide asset management program for local roads, bridges and facilities.
All Electronic Tolling
Working with labor, MassDOT has begun work to implement statewide All-Electronic Tolling (AET), which will replace toll collectors on roads and bridges with gantries along the highways, allowing all traffic to travel at normal highway speed through the tolling areas. Cash will be eliminated from the system entirely, as all transactions will be conducted using either the current E-Z Pass system or through video tolling (in which invoices are sent to customers whose license plates are recorded by the AET camera system). This concept will lessen congestion, improve air quality, and reduce operating costs by an estimated $50 M annually.
Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Modernization
The Patrick-Murray Administration recognizes that individuals increasingly prefer to perform every-day transactions either online or through self-service. In order to provide the citizens of the Commonwealth with the ability to carry out motor vehicle transactions online rather than branches, an investment will be made in the RMV to offer customers greater convenience and time-saving opportunities. In addition to greater online transaction availability, modernization will enable consolidation of current branch offices and replace them with a network of regional and commercial centers authorized to provide services such as insurance agencies, AAA branches and even retail stores or banks.
Reform the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs)
Federally-designated partners in the transportation planning process, MPOs help their member communities identify and prioritize transportation needs for project funding and study. MassDOT is reviewing the MPO structure in terms of size, number, performance, and project selection criteria in order to identify reforms that will improve effectiveness, equity and transparency. MassDOT will engage in efforts to increase public awareness of and involvement in the annual MPO process of programming federal transportation funds for expenditure.
State Infrastructure Bank (SIB)
A State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) could provide public funds to match private capital for the purpose of making loans to support the construction of infrastructure with a public purpose. Projects supported by SIB funds would be required to have an economic benefit to the Commonwealth and to generate revenue so that interest paid to the SIB could then be invested in other beneficial projects.
MBTA Retirement Policies
Continuous review of retirement eligibility and reform in order to remain consistent with state policies and practices is important for equity and long term savings. MassDOT and the MBTA will also review the recommendations of the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Commission (outlined in the Issue in Brief “Retiree Health Reform”) for realigning benefit costs while both protecting public employees and avoiding budget cuts in other areas as health care costs continue to escalate.
The need to relocate utilities is one of the top reasons for infrastructure project delay. Federally-aided construction programs provide MassDOT with the ability to reimburse utilities for the relocation of conduits, poles, lines and associated equipment, reducing necessary construction times. In 2009, only 33 percent of the projects that were completed that year did so on-time and within the original contract schedule. Since then, with the implementation of utility reimbursements in the Accelerated Bridge and Federal Aid programs, on-time performance has improved significantly – up to 72 percent in 2011. In an effort to increase project turnaround and efficiency, MassDOT intends to extend utility relocation reimbursements to projects funded by the state as well.
Real Estate Disposition
MassDOT is one of the largest owners of real estate in the Commonwealth. With the completion of a statewide inventory of all parcels and other owned assets, MassDOT is identifying parcels that are eligible for transfer to municipalities, sale to third parties, or those that could be used in public-private partnerships to enhance economic competitiveness.
Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs)
In 2010, MassDOT and the RTAs established the Beyond Boston planning effort to improve and enhance services and coordination between the 15 RTAs, MassDOT and the MBTA. This year, a RTA Council has been established to advance further reforms related to statewide transit and paratransit service, including scheduling and enhancing services on nights and weekends.
Partnerships with Massport
The 2009 Transportation Reform Bill directed MassDOT to take over the Tobin Bridge from the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), and gave management responsibility to Massport for Worcester Regional Airport and Hanscom Field. Since then, Massport, MassDOT and the MBTA have partnered to reduce costs and improve customer service. In 2012, the MBTA and Massport launched a pilot program offering free MBTA Silver Line service between Logan Airport and South Station in order to reduce the number of private vehicles at Logan. MassDOT and Massport are working to make the service permanent and to identify other areas of collaboration.
With these reforms in place, the Patrick-Murray Administration is taking a significant step in providing the Commonwealth with the transportation resources it deserves.
Prepared by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
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