CrossTown Connect Transportation Management Association is pleased to announce that starting on July 11th a single fare structure was introduced across all on-demand Council on Aging (CoA) shuttles in the four communities of Acton, Boxborough, Littleton and Maynard. These new fares also apply to the Road Runner and MinuteVan Dial-A-Ride services of Acton. Under the new pricing, all one-way trips within and between any of the four communities, as well as certain surrounding areas, will cost $1.00. This will no doubt come as welcome news to riders since for many it will mean a reduction in cost, particularly for those travelling from one town to another. It will also mean price predictability as any rider of any vehicle in any of the participating towns will pay the same price for the same type of ride. For those requiring longer distance rides – to Boston medical facilities for instance – the cost will be $7.00 per one-way trip. Finally, as a means to encourage participation in Council on Aging programs, all trips within the four communities to and/or from any of the four participating CoAs will be free of charge.
This announcement comes with the concurrent rollout of a groundbreaking agreement signed between CrossTown Connect, the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART) and the Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) that will allow the sharing of on-demand community shuttles across the regional boundaries of the four towns. The sharing of vehicles between towns will not only simplify fares, but also enable CrossTown Connect to more efficiently utilize the towns’ transportation resources to better serve seniors and persons with disabilities. With this agreement CrossTown Connect 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 into one vehicle trip, other vehicles will become available to serve more riders creating opportunities for increased capacity as well as greater mobility and access to the participating communities.
“We’re excited to introduce universal fares and cross-town sharing of transportation services because together they will streamline the experience of our customers. Using one service with one fare over four towns will not only make it easier to use, it will also increase the number of customers we can serve by using the vehicles that are available to us more efficiently. We would like to hold this success up to other regions as a demonstration of cooperation and innovation in the provision of vital transportation services” – Scott Zadakis, Executive Director, CrossTown Connect TMA
This agreement evolved from the establishment in 2014 of a Central Dispatch Call Center serving the same four towns, which was made possible by the Patrick Administration’s Community Innovation Challenge Grants. The Call Center, which is operated by TransAction Associates of Woburn, coordinates rides among Councils on Aging and other services in all four communities simultaneously, resulting in a significant increase in ridership. Riders 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.
Vehicle sharing and subsequent standardized fares were made possible by the Baker-Polito Administration who partnered together with the CrossTown Connect communities in the Commonwealth’s first regionally focused Community Compact. 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, MART and LRTA. 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 only to their own residents, leading to inefficiencies, particularly at popular destinations like grocery stores and doctors’ offices. It was not uncommon to see two or more 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.
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) and 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.