The cost of getting the Watertown TMA (Transportation Management Association) up and running will be more than $150,000, but the shuttle would be an additional cost.
Allison Simmons of Ease Connect, showed the members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Transportation the cost estimates Tuesday night, which include about $26,000 in upfront costs (incorporation, legal fees, creating a website and marketing), $100,000 in salary for the program manager, benefits, and the cost of running the office, and another $5,000 for ongoing marketing – a total of $158,000.
All those costs, and the assessments, would go toward the creation and running of a TMA, but not for the cost of setting up and running a shuttle. The developments required to contribute to the TMA will also be required to help support the shuttle, however, Simmons added that the members of the TMA would only have to pay for the shuttle if it serves their development or complex.
While it is agreed that Watertown residents will be able to ride the shuttles, what remains up in the air is whether they will have to pay to ride.
At earlier meetings, Councilors had pushed for residents to ride free and Councilor Aaron Dushku said he thought it had been decided that residents would be allowed to ride without paying a fare. Simmons said it has not been decided, and said there may be reasons to charge people.
“On Pleasant Street, most of the members are residential developments. If it is free to ride for residents, why would Bell Watertown pay in?,” Simmons said.
Who’s Paying for the TMA
So far, Simmons said the nine members of the TMA who either have been required to be part of the permitting process, or who have agreed to be part of the TMA. These entities would contribute about $121,000, including $68,000 in annual dues and another $54,664 in assessments.
The assessments are based on the size of the project – units for residential projects, square footage for retail and employees for an office project. The rate is based on $16 per unit/employee/1,000 square feet. A mixed use project, such as the renovation of the Arsenal Mall, pays based both on square footage and employees.
The developments and groups who have already committed are: the Residence Inn by Marriott (Boylston Properties), Linx (offices by Boylston on the former Verizon site), the Arsenal Mall (Boylston), AthenaHealth, Gables (202-204 Arsenal St.), Cresset/WS Development (retail at 202 Arsenal St.), Elan Watertown (apartments at Irving and Arsenal Streets), Watertown Mews (off Pleasant Street next Repton Place) and 330-350 Pleasant St. (retail and apartments by World Realty Development).
Some projects approved and built before the TMA requirement started, as well as some established businesses, have indicated they want to be part of the organization. Simmons estimates they would add another $43,000 in annual dues.
The uncommitted, potential members are: Tufts Health Plan, Bell Watertown (apartments on Woodview Way off Waltham Street), Riverworks Innovation Center (former Aetna Mills on Pleasant Street), Riverbend on the Charles (270 Pleasant St.), office building at 65 Grove St. (formerly GE Ionics), VHB on Walut Street and the Town of Watertown.
“Watertown, Tufts, VHB and Bell Watertown have all verbally committed,” Simmons said.
Some other groups for which it might make sense to join the TMA, Simmons said, include Perkins School for the Blind, Nobles and Greenough School and the City of Newton has expressed interest in joining.