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Overview of the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Nantucket Regional Transit Authority.

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Regional Transit Authorities

Chapter 161B of the Massachusetts General Laws established regional transit authorities (RTAs) to provide a public transportation system under the control of municipalities. Each RTA supports a number of communities (member communities) and is governed by an advisory board composed of the chief elected officials from those communities. Chapter 161B of the General Laws gives the Commonwealth certain oversight responsibilities, and it defines the process by which RTAs may be formed or expanded within the Commonwealth, as well as the duties, powers, and limitations of these RTAs. This law also outlines the membership of RTA advisory boards and their authority to appoint administrators, approve budgets, and approve significant changes in service fares. Currently, there is a network of 15 RTAs (12 urban and 3 rural) operating in the Commonwealth, in addition to the transit services provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). These RTAs serve a total of 262 cities, suburban municipalities, and rural communities outside the greater Boston area and provide transportation via buses and minibuses operated by private transit service companies. RTAs, which are locally controlled, manage their own operations but must hire private operating companies to provide their services in accordance with Chapter 161B of the General Laws.

Section 53 of Chapter 6C of the General Laws makes the Rail and Transit Division (RTD) of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation “responsible for overseeing, coordinating and planning all transit and rail matters throughout the commonwealth,” including intercity buses, the MBTA, and RTAs. RTD carries out its responsibility of providing and managing financial assistance for RTAs through its Community Transit Program Unit, which oversees the federal, state, and local programs that financially support RTAs. State appropriations for the 15 RTAs increased from approximately $70 million in fiscal year 2014 to approximately $80 million in fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

The Nantucket Regional Transit Authority

The Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (NRTA) was established in 1995 and reports to RTD under Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009, “An Act Modernizing the Transportation Systems of the Commonwealth.” According to NRTA’s Regional Transit Plan, the agency’s mission is as follows:

Nantucket Regional Transit Authority has established a standard of excellence that is only equaled [by] its commitment to provide safe, efficient, and widely accessible transportation service to meet the needs of the year-round community and the diverse summer population it serves.

An administrator is responsible for day-to-day administration of the agency, which had 2 full-time and 10 part-time seasonal staff members during our audit period. NRTA’s operations are overseen by the Nantucket Select Board. The board is responsible for hiring an administrator, setting fares, establishing service levels, and authorizing real-estate purchases. During fiscal years 2016 and 2017, NRTA contracted with Valley Transportation Services of Massachusetts Inc. to provide fixed-route and demand-response1 transportation services, including maintenance and administrative functions.

In fiscal years 2016 and 2017, NRTA received revenue from a variety of sources, including fares from riders and assistance from various federal, state, and local sources. The largest source of funding is Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grants, followed by state contract assistance,2 fare revenue, and local assessment3 payments. The table below shows the types of funding NRTA received during the audit period.

NRTA Operating Funding Sources

Type of Funding

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Federal Grants

$541,489

$540,327

State Contract Assistance

488,184

488,184

Fare Revenue

433,841

449,661

Local Assessments

398,943

408,302

Private Funding

137,200

255,481

Total

$1,999,657

$2,141,955

During our audit period, NRTA’s operating costs were as follows.

NRTA Operating Expenses

Type of Expense

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Transit Service

$1,718,561

$1,862,538

Maintenance

154,555

154,796

General and Administrative Expenses

126,868

141,576

Depreciation

503,410

518,105

Total

$2,503,394

$2,677,015

During our audit period, NRTA received capital grants funded by the US Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth to be used to expand and modernize transportation services. Those grants totaled $218,626 for fiscal year 2016 and $879,752 for fiscal year 2017.

Vehicle Fleet and Service Route Area

NRTA operates local fixed-route and demand-response services within the 46-square-mile Nantucket area, serving a year-round population of more than 11,000 and a seasonal population of more than 60,000. It operates a network of up to nine local transit routes with a total of 13 vehicles during the summer season. NRTA operates seasonal service seven days a week from as early as 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. during the summer season. Some routes’ start and end dates of service vary, as do their times of operation and frequency of stops.

The table below shows the number of revenue-producing and non-revenue-producing vehicles4 used at NRTA during fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Number of NRTA Vehicles

Vehicle Type

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Revenue-Producing

23

23

Non-Revenue-Producing

5

5

Total

28

28

Vehicle Maintenance

NRTA operates its administrative office and a maintenance facility in an approximately 7,025-square-foot building in Nantucket. At the end of our audit period, NRTA had a total of 28 vehicles in its fleet. The table below shows the types and average ages of the vehicles in NRTA’s fleet during the audit period.

NRTA Vehicle Fleet Average Age

Make and Model

Vehicle Type

Vehicle Count

Average Age (Years)

International HC Series

Bus

19

4

Ford E350

Minibus

4

5

Toyota Sienna

Van

2

3

Toyota Tacoma

Truck

1

3

Ford Explorer

SUV

1

3

Ford F250

Truck

1

6

Total

 

28

 

The table below shows NRTA’s maintenance expenses for the audit period.

NRTA Maintenance Expenses

Expenses

Fiscal Year 2016

Fiscal Year 2017

Vehicle Repairs and Outside Services

$20,341

$15,434

Parts and Supplies

26,883

38,483

Fuel and Lubricants

5,810

6,341

Vehicle Insurance

79,178

77,886

Utilities and Leases

13,933

13,709

Miscellaneous Operating and Maintenance Expenses

7,182

2,187

Office Supplies and Expenses

1,227

756

Total

$154,555*

$154,796

*    Discrepancy in total is due to rounding.

 

Below are the actual mileage and maintenance costs per vehicle for fiscal year 2017.

NRTA Vehicle Mileage and Maintenance Expenses

Make and Model

Vehicle Count

Total Mileage

Total
Maintenance Cost

Average Maintenance Cost per Vehicle

International HC Series

19

195,260

$8,282

$436

Ford E350

4

31,879

757

$189

Toyota Sienna

2

9,603

0

$0

Toyota Tacoma

1

3,610

66

$66

Ford Explorer

1

4,595

0

$0

Ford F250

1

4,365

0

$0

Total

28

249,312

$   9,106*

 

*    Discrepancy in total is due to rounding.

 

FTA requires all RTAs to report to it any information related to their transit vehicle inventories or maintenance and repairs that they conduct. This information is included in FTA’s National Transit Database. At the time of our audit, NRTA was using the Fleet Maintenance Pro fleet management software to document all of its vehicle asset and expense information and report it to FTA.

NRTA Community Programs

During peak tourist season in Nantucket, NRTA provides transportation to short-term visitors, year-round residents, seasonal homeowners, and workers. NRTA also provides paratransit services for elderly people and those with disabilities in the Nantucket area.

1.   Demand-response transportation services are those that run on a flexible schedule and flexible routes based on the needs of RTA passengers with special needs.

2.   Under Section 23 of Chapter 161B of the General Laws, the Commonwealth, through the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, can contract with an RTA to fund 50% of the net cost of the service the RTA provides. Known as state contract assistance, this funding is provided through the Commonwealth Transportation Fund and the Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund.

3.   Under Section 9 of Chapter 161B of the General Laws, annual local assessment payments are adjusted based on the “loss” (operating cost minus revenue) for each specific transit route and the activity and the share of that loss attributable to each town or city.

4.   Non-revenue-producing vehicles are light-duty vehicles for temporary use by NRTA employees for agency-related business.

Date published: October 2, 2018
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