Starting in October, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans to redirect $1.58 million in federal funds, plus a state match, to a new grant program to provide new and financially sustainable transportation options for Massachusetts workers.

The federal funds will come from MassDOT’s statewide allocation of Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds, so a fundamental goal of the program will be air quality improvements linked to a reduction in congestion and single-occupancy vehicle usage. The particular focus will be workforce transportation (how to get more workers to their jobs with less air pollution).

Examples of possible projects could be: first mile-last mile links between one or more employment sites and a commuter rail station or other transit center; a subscription service to an office park or manufacturing facility; lift equipped van services to a vocational rehabilitation center.

Applicants for the competitive grant program are expected to include employers, transportation management associates, municipalities and regional transit authorities. Partnerships will be encouraged.

Applications will be scored based on criteria that will be developed during an outreach process. Scoring is likely to look at questions such as:
• How does the project define “success”?
• How will the project improve travel options for workers?
• How many workers are expected to benefit?
• How cost-effective will the service be?
• Will the service be financially sustainable after the grant ends?
• Will the service increase transit equity in the region and the Commonwealth?
• How will the service improve air quality and/or reduce congestion?

Listening sessions will be held at the following locations during June:

June 4, 9 a.m.
Host: Neponset Valley Transportation Management Association
Location: Endicott Estate, 656 East St., Dedham

June 5, 9 a.m.
Host: South Shore Chamber of Commerce
Location: Doubletree by Hilton, 929 Hingham St., Rockland

June 6, 2 p.m.
Host: 128 Business Council (Joint session with Seaport TMA)
Location: The Seaport Hotel, Constitution Room, One Seaport Lane, Boston

June 21, 10 a.m.
Host: Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Location: Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, 311 Main St., Suite 200, Worcester

June 24, 8 a.m.
Host: Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce
Location: Residence Inn Andover-Boston, 500 Minuteman Road, Andover

The outreach is designed to help MassDOT shape the program in a way that is responsive to workforce needs and that maximizes employer participation. Questions such as workforce size and locations, schedule flexibility, and links to transit will be discussed, as well as the role of seed funding and the opportunity to leverage private funds. MassDOT’s approach to pilots will be explained, along with the federal requirements for the funding that MassDOT will be using for this program.

MassDOT expects to wrap up its outreach and issue a request for grant proposals in June. The request will include guidelines and an application form.

MassDOT will concurrently offer training on the technical requirements of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program and information on what is expected of a federal grantee.

MassDOT expects to accept grant applications beginning in July and to announce awards in the fall of 2019.