Chamber Involvement in Transportation Initiatives
The following brief outlines initiatives that the Chamber has been working on regarding transportation-related issues, opportunities, on behalf of our members and the entire business community.
Union Station Center Platform
The center platform project would be a major upgrade to Union Station, enabling two commuter rail trains to enter the station at the same time. Currently, service is limited because only one train at a time can enter the station. Delays can cause a “cascade” effect resulting in tightly scheduled trains needing to queue outside the station.
Rail Vision Commission
A commission was created to “identify cost-effective strategies to transform the existing commuter rail system into one that better supports improved mobility and economic competitiveness in Greater Boston.” As member of the Rail Vision Commission, the WRCC continues to advocate for Rail Traffic Controller (RTC), a tool that simulates the movement of trains through rail networks at a detailed and realistic level (MBTA, Amtrak, NJT, BNSF,CSX and many more). This information is used for rail infrastructure (switches, signals, platforms, grades, and speeds). It is also used for train dispatching logic to oversee vehicle performance, braking, signal logic, PTC, train routing, and conflict resolution. Lastly, RTC dispatches statistics to mitigate upcoming issues such as on-time performance, revenue/non-revenue miles, average speed, and delays.
Massachusetts Business Coalition on Transportation (MBCT)
The Massachusetts Business Coalition for Transportation was established to determine the possibility building a consensus among the state’s business organizations and help guide elected and appointed leadership in moving Massachusetts closer to a first-class and responsive statewide transportation system. After nearly six months of meetings and work (including conversations and a survey of participant business organizations), by more than two dozen business stakeholder organizations, there was near-unanimous consensus among the groups on the need for additional revenue for transportation.
Through the MBCT, the Worcester Regional Chamber published its position paper outlining our top priorities including those specific to our region. The Chamber is advocating for funding of a three-year pilot program that would allow free access to bus services for riders of buses operated by Worcester Regional Transit Authority. Additionally, the Chamber supports the implementation of many reforms outlined in the Taskforce on RTA Performance and Funding’s “A Vision for the Future of Mass RTA.” Finally, the Chamber supports the Worcester Regional Research Bureau’s report, “The Implications of a Fare-Free WRTA,” that touts the merits of implementing a pilot program for fare-free service.
The Worcester Regional Chamber continues to advocate for the expanded funding for the Commonwealth’s Industrial Rail Access Program (IRAP) with accountability measures that guarantee bi-annual allocations by these matching grants. On March 19, 2020 the Chamber will host another Business & Government Forum regarding this measure. Representatives from MassDOT, along with the Massachusetts Rail Association and representatives from the Central Massachusetts freight rail companies, will discuss the needs that these companies need in order to continue to combat our growing congestion issues.
Massport | Worcester Regional Airport
Since Massport’s purchase of the Worcester Regional Airport from the City of Worcester in 2010, the Chamber has appreciated and supported the efforts across two gubernatorial administrations and changes in Massport’s leadership to advance the Worcester Regional Airport for commercial aviation. Since 2010, considerable progress has resulted in more than 750,000 passengers served and an estimated economic impact of $97 million for the region. The presence of JetBlue, American Airlines, and most recently Delta have facilitated incremental growth at Worcester Regional Airport, as 165,000 customers flew out of Worcester in 2019, up 16% from 2018.
Alex Guardiola, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy
AGuardiola@worcesterchamber.org | 508.753.2924, ext. 222
311 Main St., Suite 200, Worcester, MA 01608 | www.WorcesterChamber.org