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On the Trans Blog
MBTA Ridership Grows
Richard A. Davey, MBTA General Manager

I am pleased to report that led by a big jump in customers on the subway lines, MBTA ridership in October reached its highest level in two years. October's average weekday ridership topped 1.3 million for the first time since October 2008, and represents a 0.9% increase over October 2009.

The most significant ridership increase occurred on the Red, Orange, and Blue Lines, where October's weekday ridership averaged 532,400, the highest level in four year for the T's subway lines.

The Green Line's average weekday ridership of 236,000 was the highest in more than a year.

Compared to 2009 when ridership fell every single month, the MBTA system has experienced growth in ridership this year in eight out of ten months.

Bay Circuit Trails Adds Connection

MassDOT and Bay Circuit Alliance Partners last month dedicated a new Bay Circuit Trail section during an event on Staples, Inc. property near the western end of the new trail.

An 11 acre triangular piece of wooded land traversed by rugged rock ledges abuts Interstate 90 in Ashland. In June 2009, The Bay Circuit Alliance negotiated a public access license for this property. Last summer volunteers laid out, constructed, and marked a trail that connects the existing Bay Circuit Trail on Staples property in Framingham with the I-90 Oak Street Bridge to Ashland. Now on MassDOT property, the new trail eliminates a long and potentially dangerous road walk along Route 9 and Oak Street. Refer to www.baycircuit.org on the web and view map#8 for trail details.

The Road to Reform

Accelerated Bridge Program: First AAA Credit Rating in State History

Governor Deval Patrick, Treasurer Timothy Cahill and Legislative leaders this week announced that the Commonwealth's Accelerated Bridge Program bonds have been awarded the highest possible credit rating by two major rating agencies. Both Moody's (Aaa) and Standard & Poor's (AAA) assigned the Program's triple-A credit ratings.

Over the life of the Accelerated Bridge Program, the triple-A ratings will save the Commonwealth an estimated $60 million in interest costs, and allow the state to continue to make critical investments in infrastructure at a lower cost to taxpayers. "It is welcome news today that these rating agencies have assigned the Accelerated Bridge Program bonds the highest possible credit rating," said Governor Patrick. "This is further proof that our strategy for finding new efficiencies in state government and investing in our broken infrastructure at record levels is paying off. We will continue to manage state finances in a fiscally responsible way, as we have throughout these challenging times, in order to maintain our rating and our ability to make these much-needed investments."

The triple-A ratings were assigned in advance of the early-December sale of $575 million of Accelerated Bridge Program, Commonwealth Transportation Fund Revenue Bonds. In addition, the Commonwealth will issue $100 million of Accelerated Bridge Program, Grant Anticipation Notes, backed by future federal grants, which will be rated AAA by Standard and Poor's, with a Moody's rating expected later this week. This is the first bond sale for the Accelerated Bridge Program. The State Treasurer's Office is managing the bond sale, with a combined effort between the Treasury, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, and MassDOT.

These top credit ratings are a result of financing reforms proposed by Governor Patrick and the Legislature in the landmark Transportation Reform Act of 2009. The legislation authorizes the Commonwealth to create a new bond credit structure secured by gas tax and Registry of Motor Vehicle fees in the new Commonwealth Transportation Fund (CTF). The stability of these revenues, as well as provisions limiting the amount of bonds that can be issued, create a strong, secure credit structure.

Since 2008, the number of structurally deficient bridges has dropped from 543 to 482, a decline of over 11 percent. The ABP Program has completed 28 bridge projects already, with another 61 bridge projects currently in construction, and an additional 69 bridge projects scheduled to start construction within the next year. Over the course of the eight year program, more than 200 bridges will be replaced or repaired. Together, the Commonwealth's investment in roads and bridges has grown from $515 million in FY2007 to a projected $1.085 billion in FY2010. The road and bridge construction program will support more than 10,000 jobs on 385 separate projects across the Commonwealth.

Learn more about the Accelerated Bridge Program.


RMV New Service: Younger Teen IDs

MassDOT Registrar Rachel Kaprielian in Worcester announced that the Registry of Motor Vehicles will now make Mass ID's available to 14 and 15 year old applicants.

State Rep. John P. Fresolo (D-Worcester) introduced the legislation that lowered the eligibility age for the official Massachusetts identity document which Governor Patrick signed into law last summer.

A group of students from Worcester South High School joined the Registrar and Rep Fresolo at the announcement to become among the first to apply for a Mass ID.

Under-age applicants must satisfy all the requirements for obtaining a Mass ID which can be found in the driver's manual or at www.mass.gov/rmv.

MassDOT RMV Division serves more than 4.6 million drivers at 31 branch locations and online at www.mass.gov/rmv. In the past two years, the RMV has added more than a dozen internet transactions to the website enabling customers to apply online for a first time license or convert an out-of-state license and then schedule a branch appointment; renew a license, ID, and registration; order a driving record, police crash report and Fast Lane transponder; view the status of a license, registration, driver education certificate and title; sign up for a license renewal reminder and organ donation as well as cancel a registration plate.


New Bedford Station Design Contest

MassDOT and the City of New Bedford announced an informal design competition for a new station near Route 18 to be known as Whale's Tooth. The multi-modal station will be built as part of the South Coast Rail project and may host a new local and intercity bus terminal. The announcement was made in New Bedford City Hall by Mayor Scott W. Lang and Kristina Egan, Director of South Coast Rail, MassDOT.

In addition to holding a design contest, the City, MassDOT, and the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority have launched an initiative to identify ways to improve local bus service and provide service to the Whale's Tooth station. Customer surveys are underway to gather information from riders and the larger public. Recommendations will be released next year in the first comprehensive report ever developed for the bus authority.

The contest poster and background information about the station site are posted on the project website, www.mass.gov/southcoastrail. Submissions are due on December 20, 2010, and must include one or two drawings or renderings and a description and rationale for the design.


MassDOT Board January Public Meeting

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors will hold its next regular public business meeting on Wednesday, January 5, 1:00pm, MBTA Board Room, Suite 3910, State Transportation Building, Boston.

The MBTA Board will meet first at 1pm, followed by the MassDOT Board. All meetings are open to the public.