Report eyes possible waste of T’s RIDE

MassDOT Secretary Rich Davey said in a statement yesterday that Sullivan’s suggestions are appreciated, and some of the recommendations are on their way to implementation.

Massachusetts Inspector General Gregory Sullivan thinks the MBTA’s The RIDE program is a fragmented service ripe for fraud and abuse and needs to be fixed.

In a letter sent to T officials this week, Sullivan said his office has been examining the paratransit issue for more than a year, trying to slash high costs and consolidate services.

“The MBTA is in a financial crisis mode. The IG’s office thinks there is a potential $60 million or more in annual savings,” Sullivan told State House News.

In October, Acting MBTA General Manager Jon Davis said The RIDE was putting a strain on total T resources and “what we have available for all other modes [of transportation].”

The RIDE, which costs the T $122 million annually, and is increasing at 16 percent each year, serves 62 communities with lift-equipped door-to-door vans for elderly and disabled riders.

Sullivan said with the rate at which costs are skyrocketing, the MBTA would have to support a billion-dollar paratransit system in the future – something it certainly can’t do.

“[It’s] likely an untenable situation given current MBTA funding,” Sullivan said.

In his letter to top officials, Sullivan pitched solutions and money-slashing measures to help reassess services.

The RIDE solutions:

Sullivan outlined several ways to cut costs for theparatransit system.

1. Statewide consolidation and coordination
2. Better policy decision-making
3. Consider more revenue opportunities
4. Tighten the eligibility process

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear


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