Last week I attended a Transit Matters Beer and Transit event featuring Scott Hamwey, a long-term planning manager at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Hamwey is charge of the current State of the System Analysis state law requires that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority go through every five years. This time around Hamwey and his colleagues have decided to go with a more branded and engaged approach, called Focus 40 or Focus 4 T, using the various economic and transportation analyses available to planners is try to develop a “strategic vision for MBTA investments” for the next 25 years, until 2040.
He acknowledged the difficulty of this by playing a little animation that pointed out that in 1915 the dominant mode of vehicular transportation was the horse and by 1940 it was the automobile.
Hamwey said that there were three main strategies they were looking at: the state of good repair roadmap, line-specific investment packages and municipal partnerships. The last probably has the greatest day-to-day affect on riders because it’s cities and towns in the region that own (and don’t plough) the bus stops. As a result, 92 percent of of stops do not have shelters and the T has no way of reconfiguring stops for bump outs. They also depend on municipal cooperation for initiatives like signal-priority. Hamwey added that the 15 key bus routes account for one-third of all bus rides and less than two-thirds of bus trips are on time.
Focus 40 is also trying to take trends like the popularity of ridesharing services and climate change into account in addition to demographic changes like population growth and aging.
A series of State of the System reports are available online and Hamwey said that a concerted civic engagement process would begin soon to get stakeholder imput.