Entries by Greg Sullivan

Drop in MBTA Commuter Rail Ridership Continues

A recent Boston Globe column by Northeastern University Professor Joseph M. Giglio and our own Charlie Chieppo has drawn the ire of some transit advocates.  In it, Giglio and Chieppo argue that commuter rail trains that provide station-to-station service are poorly positioned to compete with shared, electric, self-driving cars, when they become dominant several decades […]

Op-ed: UMass leaders fail Boston campus

By Greg Sullivan Friday, April 14, 2017 The University of Massachusetts at Boston faces seemingly intractable financial difficulties, but it’s wrong to pin the blame on outgoing Chancellor Keith Motley. Many of the problems flow from decisions made by the UMass board of trustees’ and president’s offices. At the direction of the trustees, UMass Boston has […]

Op-ed: Justification For 40% Legislative Leadership Raises Is Political Voodoo

When doing the people’s will is secondary to legislators’ self-interest, how strong is our democracy? The state Legislature is on the verge of overriding the Governor’s veto of legislation that includes sizable pay raises for state and legislative leaders. Their actions on this front will answer the democracy question. Since legislators can’t raise their base pay, the hikes are limited to leadership positions in the form of increased legislative stipends. Base pay increases are formulaic and tied to the state’s median household […]

Outsourcing bus services is—by now—conventional wisdom

Outsourcing bus services is—by now—conventional wisdom As the Finance and Management Control Board (FMCB) considers further action to address its operating deficit, deferred maintenance backlog, and the demands from riders for higher quality performance, once again privatization of services has come center stage.  During the coming weeks, there will be ample debate on the merits […]

Op-ed: Time for UMass system to implement needed fiscal reforms

As University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan considers raising tuitions yet again, his institution is at a crossroads. On the one hand, the University of Massachusetts has many achievements of which to be proud. Under the leadership of Meehan and his predecessors over a quarter century, the average grade point average of entering UMass Amherst […]

Inconsistencies in UMass’ Reporting of Deferred Maintenance

In assembling the data for Pioneer’s UMass at a Crossroads series, which covers the improving academic profile of UMass students, the strategy of recruiting more out-of-state and international students to generate additional revenue, and the fiscal implications of UMass’ ambitious capital expansion, Pioneer identified inconsistencies in UMass’ reporting of deferred maintenance. Below is a brief […]

The Real Source of UMass R&D Spending

UMass issued a report and a press release Tuesday citing a record level of research and development spending at UMass in fiscal year 2015. “Despite the tightening of the funding environment, the University of Massachusetts saw sponsored research increase by 4.3 percent during the past year, reaching a record $629 million, President Marty Meehan announced […]

Guest Opinion: Reinstate the SNAP work requirement

Massachusetts, once a national leader in welfare reform, needs to reinvigorate its commitment to helping recipients succeed in the workforce. A good first step would be for Governor Charlie Baker to instruct the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to reinstate the work component of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food […]

Welcome News from the New Team at the MBTA: Getting Serious About Savings

The Boston Globe reports today that MBTA officials briefed MBTA union officials last week about their forthcoming plan to request information from outside companies on running about 30 of the T’s 170 current bus routes, representing approximately 17 percent of its total routes. This should be welcomed news to state taxpayers and local property taxpayers […]

There Is Little Appeal to the Current Use of Binding Arbitration at the T

Eliminating final and binding arbitration at the MBTA is key part of Governor Baker’s reform proposal.  His bill does not call for ending collective bargaining and arbitration at the T, but instead for applying the same collective bargaining/arbitration law that applies to other public employee unions at state agencies and municipalities, including at police and […]

Status Report on the Job Creation Impact of the Life Sciences Act of 2008

This is the second in a continuing series of status reports published by Pioneer Institute on the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act of 2008 (LSA). This report presents an analysis of job growth in the life sciences industry in Massachusetts and other states utilizing data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) published by […]

What if “The Ride” operated like the best big paratransit systems in the US?

OK, let’s cut straight to the answer.  If The Ride had operated as cost-efficiently as the ten most cost-efficient large-scale paratransit systems in FY2013, it would have saved between $48.2 million and $60.3 million in FY2013. If the MBTA can bring its costs per passenger trip going forward to the level of the average of […]

Guess Who Runs the Best Paratransit System in the MBTA’s District? Hint: It’s Not the T

Pioneer Institute’s ongoing analysis of the MBTA’s operations, finances, and performance aims to inform the public debate about the true problems plaguing the T and the most effective ways to improve the commuter experience for Massachusetts’ 1.2 million public transit system riders. In recent weeks and months, Pioneer has published reports using Federal Transit Data to […]

The MBTA’s Problem is Not Lack of Funding

Background Since the mid-1990s, Pioneer has participated in the public debate concerning ways to improve the operations and financial footing of the MBTA through reports, events, public testimony and participation on a state-appointed commission.  Our principal interests have been the Authority’s operations, finances, pension system and governance (leadership and accountability) model.  With the crisis this […]

The Myth of the Underfunded MBTA

When the MBTA collapsed last month under the weight of snow and frigid temperatures, former General Manager Beverly Scott and countless others were quick to blame the problems on years of underinvestment in the system.  But a comparison to other large transit systems reveals that the MBTA is not underfunded.  In fact, as measured by […]

Setting the Record Straight on MBTA Expansion

Pioneer has previously written that rapid expansion was a major cause of the MBTA’s recent meltdown.  More recently, we wrote that MBTA is the only American commuter rail system that lost ridership between 2003 and 2013. In a recent blog post, the Frontier Group questioned Pioneer’s assertion that the MBTA “has expanded more than any […]

Why wasn’t the T funding snow storm preparation?

Canceled commuter trains are becoming the norm leading to continued paralysis of our city.  It is truly a hard thing to imagine—people standing on platforms for hours, often without information.  And this in sometimes frigid temperatures. How did we get here? Between 2003 and 2013, the MBTA was the only one of 18 commuter rail […]

What Was Omitted from the Special Advisory Commission Report on Public Officials’ Pay

Data left out of the report of the Special Advisory Commission Regarding the Compensation of Public Officials [Click to download a Word version of this post.] On November 30, 2014, the Special Advisory Commission Regarding the Compensation of Public Officials published a study concerning the compensation of the state’s constitutional officers and members of the state […]

The MBTA’s $23 Million 11th-hour Sweetheart Deal with Gillette Stadium

$23 million 11th-hour sweetheart deal by the MBTA will stick taxpayers with a jaw-dropping $10 per one-way ride subsidy on a new full-service Gillette Stadium commuter rail line As the curtain falls on Governor Patrick’s administration, officials at MassDOT have been rushing furiously behind the scenes to pull off one of the most egregious and […]

The Health Connector Authority Protesting Too Much

In FY2011, the year prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, the administrative budget of the Massachusetts Health Connector Authority was $29 million.  By FY2013, while the Connector Authority struggled to implement its change to ACA, its budget had risen to $55 million.  By FY2014, it had risen to $118 million.  In FY2015, its […]

6 Reasons Gov. Patrick Should Veto the Convention Center Expansion Bill

Pioneer Institute’s Research Director, Greg Sullivan, sent a letter today to Governor Patrick asking him to veto the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center expansion bill. He outlined six reasons why Governor Patrick should do so: The BCEC expansion will saddle the next administration with hundreds of millions of dollars in deficiencies as a result of […]

New Life Science Industry report: Mass. gained only 55 life science jobs between 2010 and 2012

Last week, Pioneer Institute issued a report calling for Massachusetts to adopt two enhanced research and development tax credits, pointing out that research and development expenditures by Massachusetts industries dropped by 19% between 2007 and 2011 while California’s increased by 16.9% and the rest of states by 9.2% on average.  We also pointed out that […]

Biotech job creation estimates don’t add up

Pioneer today released a new report entitled “Regaining Massachusetts’ Edge in Research and Development.”  The report focuses on three important takeaways from the job creation and investment data as related to R&D-related companies: A broader tax credit strategy put into place in the early 1990s worked quite well in advancing Massachusetts’ R&D-related job base and […]

Open Letter to the Commissioners of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

Gaming Commission’s Enhanced Ethics Code On October 24, 2013, Dierdre Roney, General Counsel of the State Ethics Commission, responded to a request for advice from Stephen Crosby, Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, about whether Mr. Crosby should recuse himself from participating in matters concerning the awarding of a casino license in Everett Massachusetts.  Chairman […]

Gaming the Gaming Commission’s “Enhanced Code of Ethics”?

The Boston Globe published stories on November 21st and December 8th revealing that Steve Crosby, Chairman of the Gaming Commission, had a previous seven-year business partnership with Paul Lohnes, part-owner of a land parcel in Everett that is the proposed site of a casino in competition to win the sole casino license in Eastern Massachusetts. […]