Baker-Polito Administration announces Workforce Transportation Grant awards

Feb. 11, 2020
The grant follows MassDOT’s 2019 Congestion Report encouraging employers to create innovative solutions for employees to get to work using public or shared transportation.

Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack announced $4.2 million in funding for the Baker-Polito Administration’s Workforce Transportation Grant Program at a meeting with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors and Fiscal and Management Control Board.

“What is needed is more commuting options, more transit, more employer shuttles, more ‘first mile, last mile’ services to connect people to workplaces and job centers,” said Pollack. “This $4.2 million in Workforce Transportation Grants help fund employers providing these options.”

The grants are a result of a recommendation in the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) 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.

“These Workforce Transportation Grants will allow employers to provide additional commuting options to their employees, increasing access to jobs, alleviating traffic congestion and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. “Our administration will continue to work with the business community, local leaders and the legislature to support ways to address congestion on the commonwealth’s roadways.”

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, TMAs, municipalities and non-profit organizations.

In August 2019, MassDOT published a “Congestion in the Commonwealth” report that is the product of 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 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 Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has a total of 10 miles of dedicated bus lanes in its bus system and says it is anticipating expanding bus-only lanes.

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 RTAs 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 administration is pleased to partner with the employer community and local transit agencies to help address traffic congestion,” said Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “These grants will help to ensure that people throughout Massachusetts have the best options for reaching their jobs and other economic opportunities.”

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

A full list of the award winners is available on the MassDOT blog.