MassDOT Transit Performance

Cape Cod RTA Bus

Regional Transit Performance

The transit section shares data on the 15 RTAs. RTAs in Massachusetts operate two main types of service:

  • Bus service, which includes regularly scheduled local routes and commuter routes which operate on fixed schedules (referred to as “fixed route” throughout this report); and
  • Demand-response service, which includes federally mandated paratransit service and other dial-a-ride services, whether provided through dedicated transit vehicles or taxi vouchers. This service will be referred to as “paratransit” throughout the rest of this report.

In fall 2018, MassDOT and the RTAs took part in a Task Force on Regional Transit Authority Performance and Funding, which produced a report titled A Vision for the Future of Massachusetts’ Regional Transit Authorities. Bilaterally negotiated Memoranda of Understanding have been signed between the Rail and Transit Division and each of the RTAs with agreed upon performance metrics and reporting timelines.

MassDOT will report on the performance measures and targets set through this process in Tracker.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and MassDOT’s understanding that pre-pandemic performance is still an unrealistic goal, the RTAs used the first six months of FY21 to conduct the target setting process. As such, RTA performance in FY23 was more on target than in FY20 and FY21. In fact, many RTAs exceeded their ridership targets, signaling a greater return to ridership that has resulted from increased hybrid work options, in-person schooling and a return to in-person leisure activities. MassDOT is still tracking RTA recovery to pre-pandemic levels, using a “recovery baseline” of FY19.

One ongoing challenge facing RTAs in FY23 and the transit industry in general is workforce availability. Nationally, the transportation industry continues to face an aging workforce and a shortage of new applicants, an impact that has been felt by the RTAs, the MBTA and other transportation providers in Massachusetts. Transit agencies are still finding it challenging to recruit and retain workers, particularly for skilled or “trainable” bus driver positions and mechanics. Positions that require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), whose acquisition requires considerable training, and maintenance technicians are the most difficult positions to fill. For seasonal systems, workforce availability has also been hampered by housing availability and associated costs, particularly on the Cape and the Islands.

RTAs have continued to implement creative strategies to retain and recruit workers. These strategies have included on-staff recruiters, signing and referral bonuses, paid training periods, and increased advertising, as well as changes to the wage and benefit structure for employees. Some systems have reported success by using streamlined web-based applications as a recruitment strategy. Industry recommendations for responding to this issue include working with community colleges, non-profit agencies, and technical schools to both develop and recruit employees, improving working conditions, schedules, training and onboarding practices, and streamlining the overall hiring process. RTAs will continue to closely monitor workforce shortage challenges through the foreseeable future, especially for impacts on service delivery and the introduction of new services.

RTA Scorecards

To view the scorecards for each RTA, please visit the Executive Summary.

Scorecard Notes:
Unlike other Tracker sections, RTA targets are not split into 2-year, 4-year, and long-term targets. Instead, targets are derived from TAM Plans, Safety Plans, and Memoranda of Understanding, producing different time horizons for each measure. Asset management and financial performance targets use one-year targets (evaluated for FY22), while ridership and customer service targets are on a two-year cycle and were not evaluated last year, but are for FY2021, below.
At time of publication, both TAM Plans and Safety Plans are currently under review by NTD.