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 compare the MBTA to other, similar systems across the US. Recent reports found that:
- Contrary to accepted wisdom, the MBTA has not been cash starved relative to its national peers, whether in terms of its capital or operating budget.
- The MBTA has added more commuter rail miles than any other commuter rail system operating in the nation since 1991
- The often-cited notions that the MBTA commuter rail service‘s failure is the result of inadequate funding and outdated transit vehicle inventory are not true. Moreover, the T’s commuter rail services cost far more than the most similar system in the country.
Our new report, Guess Who Runs the Best Paratransit System in the MBTA’s District? Hint: It’s Not the T, explores the MBTA’s demand-response paratransit service. Using data from the National Transit Database and public reports of transit agencies and transportation organizations, this report compares the cost efficiency and operating practices of The Ride with those of other paratransit systems in Massachusetts, including those of the Human Services Transportation Office (HST) of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), 13 Massachusetts regional transit systems, and 20 major U.S. public transit systems. It finds that:
- The Ride costs nearly three times HST, which serves a very similar population and coverage area.
- The HST’s brokerage model for providing services allows for greater cost containment and does not necessitate the purchase and maintenance of vehicles, as does The Ride.
- The HST’s model allows for providing the right vehicle for the right trip, whereas The Ride over-deploys the use of vans.
- If The Ride were to function at the level of efficiency and employ the operational strategies of HST MassHealth, the MBTA could reap savings on the order of $500 million over six years.