Press Releases and Statements

North shore member Kathy Paul speaking at the MBTA Control Board meeting about the importance of keeping RIDE "premium" service for that service the senior and disabled communities

North shore member Kathy Paul speaking at the MBTA Control Board meeting about the importance of keeping RIDE "premium" service for that service the senior and disabled communities

For Immediate Release
April 4, 2017

Joint statement of response to Governor Bakers remarks concerning the RIDE

Contact Information:

Massachusetts Senior Action Council:
Carolyn Villers, Executive Director, cvillers@MassSeniorAction.org 617-435-1926

Boston Center for Independent Living:
Bill Henning, Executive Director, bhenning@bostoncil.org 617-338-6665

Bay State Council of the Blind:|
Rick Morin, Rick.Morin@comcast.net 781-373-1044

We were disheartened to hear the Governor's statement that advocates who have been working with the MBTA to identify cost-saving measures for the RIDE have not produced anything that saves money. Mass Senior Action Council, Boston Center for Independent Living, Bay State Council of the Blind, along with other community-based organizations have invested countless hours over the past year to work with the MBTA to identify service enhancements and cost-savings. We acknowledge that our approach of identifying cost-savings that do not harm riders takes longer than simple service cuts, but this tempered approach protects this vital transportation service for thousands while also leading to long-term sustainability and efficiencies for the RIDE.

As a result of our collaboration, The RIDE Task Force, including community partners has been able to accelerate the implementation of the Centralized Call and Dispatch Center and help position Massachusetts as a leader by piloting the new on-demand service with Uber and Lyft. Governor Baker has been one of many who have touted the success of this initiative. In addition to these initiatives we have been instrumental in advancing the outreach and education of customers about alternative options, strengthened travel training, incentives to used fixed route service, expanded partnerships with non-profit transportation companies, and many more.

We believe that the Governor has clearly been misinformed about the role community organizations like ours has played for many years. The MBTA themselves project that between the Centralized Call Center and the pilots that the RIDE will see a budget reduction from the projected FY17 expenses of $109m to $94m in FY18 without further cuts. This is an aggressive budget reduction but one that the MBTA is confident can be achieved based on the work we have done to date. We are committed to working with the MBTA to maximize the success of the system changes already in process and to identify further cost-saving initiatives that will not harm riders. We are concerned that the goal of finding another $7million in savings in the FY18 budget puts our successes at risk. There are a number of options that we have prioritized for further examining.

Our goal has always been to help the MBTA lower the cost of the RIDE program without unnecessarily disrupting the lives of Massachusetts's seniors and disabled residents, some of the state's most vulnerable communities. We are still committed to working with the Governor and the MBTA board to help them lower costs but our priority will always be to ensure that policy makers can hear directly from the seniors and people with disabilities that will be impacted by their decisions.