How Civic Engagement Works
The key to the success of the RDM Transit Needs Study is our outreach program. Existing MBTA service and any potential improvements have impacts on a broad range of stakeholders in the Study Area. Recognizing this, the driver of the study's Civic Engagement Plan is a six-pronged information-gathering methodology and campaign strategy for maximizing input from the study area neighborhoods.
It goes without saying that transit riders need to be at the table when assessments are being made about what improvements are most critical and which strategies are worth pursuing. However, the demanding schedules of work, school, and family responsibility may prevent many MBTA riders from participating fully in the Study's traditional public meeting opportunities. As a result, the RDM Study Team will bring the Study to the riders. Over the next year, members of MassDOT's Study Team will be out at MBTA bus stops, train stations and riding along with you on the bus - administering our Transit Survey, sharing information about upcoming meetings, and getting rider feedback on improvement strategies.
During the course of the RDM Study there will be four rounds of public meetings to provide a status update and solicit community input. The first round of meetings took place in January 2011 and served to kickoff the RDM Study. The second round of meetings is expected to take place this spring, and will be an opportunity to for the Study Team to share its understanding of existing conditions in the Study Area, provide an overview of the assessment methodology to be used in evaluating improvement strategies, and give a preview of the input received through the Transit Survey. Each round of meetings will include at least two meetings in different locations within the Study Area.
An Advisory Group has been formed to support MassDOT in its conduct of the Study. The 26-member Advisory Group represents the diversity of neighborhoods and perspectives in the Study Area, and is charged with bringing the local understanding of both individual members and the collective group to the table in order to advise MassDOT on the direction of the Study. At monthly meetings, Advisory Group members will provide input into Study documents under development and preview public meeting materials. The Advisory Group members will also support MassDOT's outreach program by spreading the word about the Study within their own personal and professional networks.
Although MassDOT expects that the interests of many important Study Area institutions, business and neighborhood associations, and houses of workship will be brought into the process through the outreach approaches listed above, the Study Team has committed to reaching out in targeted small group meetings with various stakeholder groups to gain a greater insight into their concerns. These may consist of dedicated briefings on the RDM Study to a local business group, or participating on the agenda of a regular monthly neighborhood association meeting. Please contact us if your organization or institution would like more information on the RDM Study (link to contact info).
Elected Officials and City Agencies
Federal, state and local elected officials were instrumental in making the RDM Study a reality. MassDOT recognizes the importance of having these community representatives continue to play an active role in the development of the Study. As stakeholders take the ultimate recommendations from the Study and begin to pursue funding for their implementation, strong partnerships with officials at City Hall, the State House and in Washington, DC will be critical.
Likewise, any recommended strategies - particularly those with physical impacts to the built environment - will need to involve a variety of City of Boston departments. Early and sustained coordination with these departments throughout the Study will help ensure that all relevant stakeholders are on board when Study recommendations move into the implementation phase.