Workforce transportation grants awarded by state

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BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)– The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors and Fiscal and Management Control Board, Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack announced $4.2 million in funding for the Baker-Polito Administration’s Workforce Transportation Grant Program.

The grants are a result of a recommendation in MassDOT’s 2019 Congestion Report to encourage employers to create innovative solutions for assisting employees to commute to work by using public transportation or shared transportation.  These 23 grants will fund a total of 21 groups, including Regional Transit Authorities (RTA), municipalities, Transportation Management Associations (TMA), business organizations and others which have demonstrated an intention to shift commuters from single-occupancy vehicles to other modes of transportation to help alleviate roadway congestion and reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

 The workforce transportation grant funding will be provided for targeted operating assistance, and the implementation of technology improvements that will benefit the transportation of workers. Projects that will result in new services or provide an innovative and sustainable approach to providing workforce transportation are given priority under this program. Eligible applicants include employers, Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), municipalities, and non-profit organizations. 

In August 2019, MassDOT published a “Congestion in the Commonwealth” report that is the product of that data-driven analysis, and includes a set of next steps for how to respond to congestion and the challenges that accompany it. The Workforce Transportation Grant Program is a direct result of one of these recommendations.  

MassDOT is currently exploring the feasibility of managed lanes and the enhancement of a “shared travel network” in Massachusetts. Additionally, the MassDOT Highway Division is conducting a range of projects to more actively manage our roadway operations to respond to congestion-causing incidents. MassDOT is also in the process of developing bus-on-shoulder pilot projects.  At the current time, after comprehensive conversations with municipalities, the MBTA has a total of ten miles of dedicated bus lanes in its bus system, and is anticipating to expanded bus-only lanes by many more miles.

The Baker-Polito Administration has filed an $18 billion Transportation Bond Bill which, in part, would provide funding to encourage and support more transit options state-wide.  One section in the bond bill filed last summer authorizes $330 million in capital support for the 15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTA) to invest in fleets and facilities. The bill also includes a new $50 million Transit Infrastructure Partnership Program which would provide grants to enable transit authorities and municipalities to work together to provide bus lanes, transit signal priority and other infrastructure to keep buses moving.   

The Workforce Grants are for projects selected on a competitive basis.  Grant recipients will now be required to enter into a contract with MassDOT to address the project goals. 

Two western Massachusetts community projects have received funding:

*City of Pittsfield- Berkshire County bikeshare feasibility study-$60,000
*Franklin Regional Transit Authority-Expanding Fixed Route Service and Instituting Microtransit Service- $278,365

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