RTA Healthy & Sustainable Transportation

Hybrid Bus

RTAs have continued to make progress in supporting the Commonwealth’s carbon reduction goals by purchasing low or no emission vehicles to replace diesel powered vehicles, upgrading their maintenance facilities to include electric charging equipment, and adding solar heating and cooling. MassDOT also has continued to support the RTAs on climate change goals through the Battery Electric Bus Phase II Study which will assist each RTA in executing their carbon reduction implementation strategies. Transitioning to zero emission vehicles is capital intensive and must be tailored to each RTA’s geographical and operating characteristics to be successful. The BEB Phase II Study will help each RTA execute strategies that that best meet their unique needs while supporting Commonwealth climate change goals.


Ridership on the RTAs is measured as Unlinked Passenger Trips (UPT), which counts each boarding of a transit vehicle as one trip. Transfer trips which involve more than one bus count as separate UPTs. In FY23, RTAs continue to proactively take several steps to recover ridership. These actions include:

  • Redesign of routes
  • Addition/continuation of flexible services like microtransit
  • Offering Fare Free services
  • Addition of customer amenities like bus stops
  • Close work with stakeholders and development/strengthening of partnerships
  • Increase in service frequency and/or span of service
  • Strengthening of social media presence
  • Use of real time data to inform operating decisions

Of note, in FY23, BRTA, MeVa and WRTA were able to exceed pre-pandemic FY19 ridership levels in their systems, while several RTAs are getting close to recovering to FY19 levels. However, some RTAs continued to experience workforce shortages which limited the provision of their full level of services thus restraining ridership growth.

Fixed-Route Services 

RTAs in Massachusetts provided 20.9 million unlinked passenger trips in FY23 – a 20 percent increase from FY22. No RTAs were able to meet their ridership targets, however, all but one (CATA) saw an increase in ridership compared to FY22.

Paratransit Services

RTAs in Massachusetts provided a total of 1.6 million trips on paratransit services in FY23, 19 percent more than in FY22. All 15 RTAs saw an increase in their paratransit service ridership. NRTA saw the largest increase at 84 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.

MWRTA has the highest percentage of alternative fuel vehicles in its fleet at 90 percent. VTA and BRTA also have more than half of their fleet running alternative fuels (58% and 57% respectively). In FY23, MassDOT completed the Phase I Battery Electric Bus (BEB) Efficiency Analysis, which reviewed the feasibility of operating BEBs on each RTA’s current fixed route service schedule and network. In partnership with the RTAs, MassDOT has initiated Phase II, which will develop Zero Emission Bus (ZEB)/BEB implementation plans for each RTA as they continue to transition their fleets.