CrossTown Connect is pleased to announce that it has recently signed a groundbreaking agreement with the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART) and the Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) that will allow the sharing of on-demand Council on Aging (CoA) vehicles across regional boundaries in the towns of Acton, Boxborough, Littleton and Maynard. This agreement will enable CTC to more efficiently utilize the towns’ transportation resources and better serve seniors and persons with disabilities across the four-town region. CTC will be able to reduce the number of redundant trips by picking up riders in multiple towns along the route to a similar destination, regardless of from where the vehicle originates. By combining rides on one vehicle, other CoA vans across the four town region will become available to serve more seniors and persons with disabilities, creating further opportunities for increased ridership. This expanded service is expected to begin in May.
This latest initiative of CTC was made possible by the Baker-Polito Administration who partnered together with the CTC communities in the Commonwealth’s first Community Compact with a regional focus. MassDOT and the Administration were instrumental in identifying and overcoming the institutional, operational and financial hurdles which had prevented the towns from streamlining redundant operations to better meet the needs of their disabled and growing senior populations. With the Administration’s support, MassDOT took on a leadership role coordinating with the communities and MART, which serves Boxborough and Littleton and LRTA, which serves Acton and Maynard. Prior to this agreement, the standard operating procedure of the Regional Transit Authorities (RTA) has been to pick up riders only within their own separate boundaries. Each town could provide rides on CoA vehicles only to their own residents, leading to inefficiencies, particularly to popular destinations like grocery stores and doctors’ offices. It was not uncommon to see two or more CoA vehicles from neighboring communities at the same location at the same time, each with only one or two riders, instead of one vehicle arriving with several riders, who could be picked up along the way. This new agreement is the first cross-RTA vehicle sharing collaboration of its kind in the state.
“The goal of providing a robust, efficient cross-RTA para-transit system across the region has finally been realized after many years of steadfast and enthusiastic commitment by volunteers, municipal leaders, and state and quasi-state officials. This is undoubtedly a historic agreement and MassDOT looks forward as this group continues to raise the bar and set new examples for others in regional coordination. This model, if replicated, will create a more robust network of transportation services across the Commonwealth.” – Aniko Laszlo, Statewide Mobility Manager, MassDOT
This new initiative evolved from the establishment in 2014 of a Central Dispatch Call Center serving the towns of Acton, Boxborough, Littleton and Maynard, which was made possible by the Patrick Administration’s Community Innovation Challenge Grants. The Call Center coordinates rides among Councils on Aging in all four communities simultaneously, resulting in a significant increase in ridership. Seniors and persons with disabilities from any of these towns are able to book a ride through the Call Center by dialing a single telephone number between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
This latest project is only one of a number of efforts administered though CrossTown Connect which seek to decrease road congestion and air pollution. CTC continues to address the transportation challenges of its members including facilitating “last mile” connections to transit, establishing commuter networks within businesses and the wider community, facilitating economic development through increased transportation resources and minimizing the environmental impact of new development on the region.
CrossTown Connect is proud to have been honored with a number of awards for its transportation initiatives (the 495 Metrowest Partnership’s Donald R. Wheeler Award in 2013, the Community Health Network Area 15’s Janice S. Hanson award in 2014, the Local Officials Human Services Council’s Peter Kirwin Award in 2014, and the International City/County Management Association’s Community Partnership Award in 2015). CTC looks forward to continuing to set an example of regional cooperation that can be replicated in other areas of the state to create a more robust network of transportation services across the Commonwealth.