City, Consultant Begin Canvassing for Innovative Transit Association

City transportation planners and a consultant have begun to lay the groundwork this month for an innovative new approach for transportation solutions to accommodate more housing development.

All throughout the City, developers from Mellon Bank to Encore Boston Harbor have been required, or have decided on their own, to provide shuttles to public transit hubs and parking lots for their employees. Many of those shuttles operate in a silo on their own, passing by one another and going to the same destination oftentimes. Meanwhile, a plethora of new large developments are likely going to have to contribute in some way to transit solutions – perhaps with their own shuttles or measures to combat potential gridlock.

City Planner Jay Monty said they have begun to see the light – in so speaking as the City and developers could coordinate their efforts and create a new cooperative that shares those resources.

Instead of separate shuttles running side by side to the same places, they would be the same shuttles funded by developers in an association coordinated by the City. The infant organization is being dubbed the Everett Transit Management Association.

“We want all developers to get on board with this and to pool the resources for one organization instead of several,” he said. “They will pay into this public-private organization. They will maintain it and if there is a shuttle, they would monitor it. It makes sense for us  and would help everyone get better value. It would be five developers sharing a shuttle instead of five different shuttles.”

It would likely be something that would be required of about every development that would come to the City seeking approvals in the future, Monty said.

Consultant Northease has been canvassing the City to talk to employers and developers, and existing developments about the idea. The consultant has been gauging interest and selling the idea and trying to develop a working business model.

“It’s a year or more before it’s running, but at the same time any new development is a year or more away too from operating,” he said. “You have to time it so we’re not getting if off the ground too soon and also not getting it started too late so we have to sell it mid-stream.”

Mayor Carlo DeMaria said the idea fits into a larger legislative goal he has, to pass a Transportation Demand Management ordinance (TDM) that allows more development by right in exchange for participating in things like the TMA and parking sticker program restrictions. That would allow them to pick from an a la carte menu of options to mitigate parking and traffic in exchange for bypassing the ZBA process.

“The TDM ordinance provides a structure in which the City can reduce the transportation impact of a development while guiding the developer towards effective and reliable means of providing mobility to their residents,” he said. “TDM is not new or novel. Some of our neighboring communities, who we look to as examples, have effectively used TDM to hold flat, or even reduce total vehicle trips in a neighborhood even as millions, yes millions, of square feet of new development took place. As we look to solve our housing affordability crisis, our environmental crisis and our transportation crisis, passing a Transportation Demand Management ordinance is must.”

DeMaria said he is currently crafting that new zoning ordinance, and plans to present it to the City Council within the next two months.

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