RTA Healthy & Sustainable Transportation

Hybrid Bus
Photo Credit: MassDOT


Ridership on the RTAs is measured as Unlinked Passenger Trips (UPT), which count each boarding of a transit vehicle as one trip. Transfer trips which involve more than one bus count as separate UPTs.

Fixed-Route Services 

Skip chart
[Data Table]
RTAs in Massachusetts provided 21.2 million unlinked passenger trips in FY20. This is a 21 percent drop from FY19, which can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Transit ridership across the country saw similar declines, especially on buses. Overall, only CCRTA was able to meet its ridership target, and was also the only RTA to see an increase in ridership.

The COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted ridership for the majority of RTAs, reporting an average 20 percent drop in ridership from last year. Additionally, RTAs reported a ridership drop between 52 and 88 percent from March 2020 to April 2020. Only a few RTAs managed to increase their ridership between Q3 and Q4 (NRTA, VTA), while the rest continued to serve a depressed number of trips. On average, the RTAs provided around 80 percent of baseline ridership they set during the Memoranda of Understanding process.

At the same time, RTAs have started to see some improvements. From its low point in April 2020, ridership significantly increased for all RTAs by June 2020, the last month of the reporting cycle. While, as mentioned earlier, only a few RTAs finished Q4 with more trips than Q3, this trend may indicate some level of ridership recovery is occurring across the state.

Paratransit Services 

Skip chart
[Data Table]
RTAs in Massachusetts provided a total of 1.8 million trips on paratransit services in FY20, a 46 percent drop in ridership from FY19. All RTAs saw a decline in their paratransit service ridership, ranging from four percent to 50 percent.

Percent of Revenue Fleet that Uses Alternative Fuels

Using alternative fuels instead of conventional fuels, such as diesel and gasoline, can help RTAs conserve fuel and lower vehicle emissions for the Commonwealth. Over time, transit agencies, including RTAs, have procured vehicles that can utilize these alternative fuels, which include electric, biodiesel, natural gas, dual fuels, and hybrids.

Skip chart

[Data Table]

VTA’s fleet is currently has the highest percentage of alternative fuel vehicles in its fleet at 17 percent (12 electric battery vehicles). At the same time, CCRTA has the largest number of alternative fuel vehicles in its fleet at 37 vehicles (33 biodiesel and four hybrid gas). Not all RTAs have alternative fuel vehicles – BAT, BRTA, CATA, GATRA, and SRTA are currently not using any alternative fuel vehicles in their fleet.