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focus-40-logoThe MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) today received a preview of the draft of Focus40, the MBTA’s long-range plan to meet the needs of the region in 2040. Focus40 envisions an MBTA that provides reliable, resilient, and robust service to support the region’s broader goals around mobility, economic competitiveness, equity, livability, accessibility, and sustainability.

As required by legislation, Focus40 provides a roadmap to feed future MBTA Capital Investment Plans by outlining Programs that enable the MBTA to best serve the region long-term and Places for new or improved service based on where investments have the greatest likelihood to deliver ridership and other benefits to the region.

Focus40 was developed through data analysis, public input (including more than 100 hours interviewing customers at transit stops and stations), and engagement with the FMCB’s Strategic Plan. The full Focus40 Plan draft will be released within the next few weeks.

Focus40 utilizes scenario planning, a decision-making paradigm that maximizes the prospects that future MBTA capital investments will stand the test of time, even as the very nature of commuting and urban living are changing in ways that are difficult to predict. In this time of tremendous uncertainty around issues such as autonomous vehicles, where millennials will be living, whether the region will build enough housing to stabilize prices, and climate and resiliency, scenario planning can help ensure a reliable, high capacity, resilient transit system that can take people of all incomes and abilities where they need to go.

Focus40 is comprised of 12 investment programs categorized into We’re Doing, We’re Planning, and We’re Imagining. We’re Doing(commitments through 2023) includes investments already underway or in the five-year capital plan that will address the near and long-term needs of the region. We’re Planning (next priorities) are those investments that seem to address the goals in most or all potential futures using a scenario planning model. The investments in We’re Imagining are more complex concepts that could be important depending on how future mobility and economic development trends develop.

Eight programs are specific to existing MBTA modes and services, three are systemwide (involving customer experience, resiliency, and accessibility/paratransit), and one involves future expansion projects and services to serve Priority Places. The contents of each of these 12 programs range from specific project ideas to broader concepts that help achieve a stated objective for the program.

Notable We’re Planning (next priorities) include capacity improvements for each rapid transit line; including achieving at least 50 percent capacity expansion on the Green Line; potential three-minute headways on the Orange Line; and the exploration of platform barriers and screen doors to speed boarding times, improve safety, and reduce delays. Resiliency investment is another major component of Focus40, as is moving towards a zero emissions bus fleet. While some near term improvements for Commuter Rail are identified in Focus40, the Commuter Rail Vision will be looking at capital investment needs for alternative service models and system electrification.

Focus40 takes a new approach to expansion projects through the concept of Priority Places. Instead of starting with projects, Focus40 considers new or improved place-based services. Places categories include: major employment/destination districts that are booming areas just beyond the MBTA’s core (for example, the Seaport District, Kendall Square, Longwood Medical Area, and Logan Airport); inner core communities that lack rapid transit (for example, Chelsea, Everett, the Blue Hill Avenue corridor, and Roslindale); and urban gateways with dense populations and employment centers that are beyond the MBTA’s rapid transit network (for example, Lynn, Salem, and Waltham). Potential investments to address needs identified in these priority places will feed Focus40 programs and be prioritized for implementation.

Once the Focus40 Plan is finalized, investments identified in We’re Planning will be prioritized for planning/design work and phased through the rolling five-year capital planning process. Priority Places will be slated for transit action plans and early action pilots, similar to the 2016 Action Plan for the City of Everett that culminated in the bus lane on Broadway.  

Next steps regarding the draft Focus40 plan include posting the plan on the MBTA website within the coming weeks for public comment through the summer. The plan will then be revised based on feedback in the early fall with the final Focus40 Plan anticipated to be released later in fall 2018.

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