An audience of approximately 45 gathered Thursday, March 23 at the Reading Public Library for a forum on first and last mile transit connections in suburban communities. Secretary of Transportation, Stephanie Pollack, was the featured guest at the forum.
Led by Keith Bergman, Littleton Town Administrator and President of MAPC, and moderated by MAPC’s Executive Director, Marc Draisen, the forum was an opportunity for mayors, town managers, and planners to ask questions of the Secretary and discuss the challenges and potential solutions to making first and last mile connections.
At the forum, the following questions were posted to help facilitate the discussion.
- What are the challenges facing suburban communities in making first and last mile connections?
- How do we define a successful first/last mile transit service in a suburban setting?
- What role do the private sector and technology play, including TMAs, employers, transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft, Bridj)?
- How can regional transit authorities (RTAs), the MBTA and transportation management associations (TMAs) better coordinate services?
- What type of planning or other support is needed for suburban communities?
- Could there be Commonwealth policy developed to help guide future actions?
- What incentives can the Commonwealth provide through existing or new grant programs to reward regional and public-private partnerships?
- Are there Commonwealth or MBTA capital investments that could support first/last mile efforts?
During the forum the following ideas were discussed as ways to meet the first and last mile challenges.
- Better coordination of RTA and MBTA services to improve connections
- Improved coordination of TMA with RTA services
- Finding and sharing local/regional best practices
- State incentives or matching funds when local governments, RTAs, and TMAs better coordinate services
- Pilot programs that can started, monitored
- New legislation and/or tax incentives to support first and last mile transit solutions
The forum was sponsored by MAPC, along with the MAGIC, North Suburban, and North Shore subregions. As a follow up to the forum, MAPC and MassDOT staff are now working on next steps that will lead to pilot projects to help with first and last mile connections.