Message from the Secretary

South Station View from Dewey Square

Secretary Stephanie Pollack

Photo Credit: MassDOT

I am pleased to file the enclosed report to comply with Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009, which requires that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) submit a yearly Performance Management Report to the General Court’s House and Senate Ways and Means Committees and the Joint Committee on Transportation. Tracker, MassDOT’s Annual Performance Management Report, summarizes MassDOT’s activities for Fiscal Year 2020 (July 2019 through June 2020). Organized by division (Aeronautics, Highway, Rail and Transit, and Registry of Motor Vehicles), as well as the MBTA, the report shows MassDOT’s progress in reaching its performance goals. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, there were significant changes to all aspects of life in the Commonwealth, including dramatic declines and changes to travel activities and patterns. While initial declines in vehicle volumes and congestion were observed in the early months of the pandemic, it is the unprecedented decrease in MBTA ridership that remains the most impactful trend, largely due to the many people continuing to work from home. Ridership remains durable on buses and the Blue Line, and the MBTA continues to prioritize resources to serve those essential trips safely. Ridership on the regional transit agencies also declined due to the pandemic but is seeing an overall stronger recovery in ridership. At the same time, the public attitude toward how space is shared on our streets is different last year. Across the state, we have seen an increase in pedestrian activity, a willingness to share street space to improve business and improve mobility to meet physical distancing protocols. As MassDOT continues support recovery of the transportation network, our priority areas remain the same, with an emphasis in our daily operations and larger scale planning on safety, reliability, accessibility, sustainability and resiliency, and equity. Changes in travel and other behavior in response to COVID-19 also have wide ranging impacts on MassDOT and the MBTA as organizations as well as on our performance indicators. In 2015, Tracker established a baseline of performance measures. In 2016, Tracker presented targets (two-year, four-year, and long-term) to measure that performance. Those targets are now updated on a two-year cycle, and this year’s Tracker includes updated targets. Going forward, the Department will continue to evaluate how well the divisions and MBTA are meeting their targets and adjust performance measures to align with division objectives as recovery continues. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Tracker shows progress in many areas. Tracker also details the tremendous efforts of Department staff to rapidly adapt operations to continue serving the constituents of the Commonwealth safely. For example, with the onset of the pandemic, the RMV encouraged customers to complete eligible transactions online and license transactions completed online in FY20 increased 50 percent from FY19. The Highway Division announced its Shared Streets and Spaces grant program to help communities quickly implement or expand improvements to streetscapes in support of safety and public health. The MBTA implemented a multi-pronged approach to ensure safety and reduce crowding where possible, making real-time crowding information available on high-ridership bus routes, requiring riders and operators to wear masks, and implementing disinfecting protocols. Other FY20 highlights include:

  • The Highway Division saw steady performance or slight improvements for its asset condition and on-time, on-budget contract performance. Additionally, the division is improving data availability and quality to help measure active travel modes, and this year’s Tracker includes additional measures that support the implementation of the 2019 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plans.
  • The Aeronautics Division saw improvement to the condition of airport pavements in FY20 as well as increases in aircraft registrations throughout the Commonwealth, with a 3 percent improvement to 89 percent in FY20. The Drone Program continues to expand, assisting 11 statewide agencies or departments and completing 195 missions in FY20.
  • The Rail and Transit Division set its first ever rail asset condition targets for bridges, culverts, tracks, and tunnels, building on the Asset Management Plan completed in 2019.
  • This year’s Tracker includes individual score cards for each Regional Transit Agency (RTA) and targets that were developed through two-year Memoranda of Understandings signed by MassDOT and the RTAs. Asset management and financial performance measures include two separate one-year targets for FY2020 and FY2021, while ridership and customer service targets were set for FY2021.
  • Following two-years of development and extensive review, the MBTA completed its revised, federally required Transit Agency Safety Plan, which utilizes Safety Management Systems (SMS) principals to ensure the safety of customers, employees, contractors, and the public. The plan provides strategic and management performance objectives to affirm and execute the MBTA’s commitment to provide a safe, reliable, and sustainable regional transportation service, and ensures compliance with federal, state, and local regulations and appropriate industry best practices.
  • The MBTA invested nearly $1.7 billion in FY20 to modernize and improve the system, an increase of over $600 million over FY19. Major capital projects currently include the Green Line Extension, the Red and Orange Line Transformation Programs, South Coast Rail, and Fare Transformation.
  • RMV safety metrics for out of state mail processing continues to move towards its 90 percent target with 86 percent of high priority mail being processed within one business day.

While we celebrate and build on these successes, the Department maintains focus on areas where performance has lagged or fallen. The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges across MassDOT and the MBTA, for example, Aeronautics saw decreased performance in FY20 for contracts completed on-time and on-budget. The RMV Contact Center received an increase in calls in the last quarter of the year, pushing wait times and the abandoned call rates beyond targets. The MBTA saw a 25 percent decline in ridership in FY20 compared to FY19, resulting in an overall FY20 fare recovery ratio of 33.5 percent, 9.2 percent lower than in FY19. Finally, with less congestion on the roadways, speeding unfortunately became a greater concern, with proportionally more speeding violations being issued in March 2020 through June 2020 than during the same period in 2019. I invite you to read this report to find out more about our performance metrics and the progress made to meet our goals during FY20. Our successes are due to many factors, including the dedication of employees, strong partnerships with municipal officials, and ongoing support from our elected leaders. We look forward to continuing to serve the Commonwealth and make progress toward goals that improve transportation for all who travel in the state, whether they choose to walk, bike, drive, or use public transit. Respectfully submitted, Stephanie Pollack Secretary & Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation