In the six year history of our coalition, we have consistently advocated for transportation investment and equity, for high quality service, and for better transportation as a crucial lever to fight against climate change, the most serious threat to our planet, our economy and our communities. Now, in the wake of the Presidential election on November 8 and the uncertainty around the path forward in many federal policy areas - including transportation - our coalition and our allies must focus on an energetic, well-informed, and persuasive program that sets out the case for sustainable mobility to serve everybody.
What does that mean?
Our cities and towns, states and regions, grass roots, business and civic leaders must come together to make the case for great transportation. Don't take anything for granted if you really want it to happen. We must be forward-looking and forceful, prepared, and powerful in how we advocate and how we demand accountability.
Our state, and the nation, has made progress in our transportation systems. But a lot of that progress has been undoing some catastrophic mistakes of postwar highway building that decimated communities, and policies that unraveled public transportation systems. A lot of progress has been in refocusing public debate about the value of investing in ourselves as a commonwealth.
Let's not make the same mistakes of the past. Let's make the case for a great future.
- A forceful case for active transportation: cycling, walking, public transportation. We must encourage people to travel in ways that are healthy, non-polluting, and safe. We must encourage infrastructure investments and public policies that prioritize people.
- A case for transportation planning that supports economic growth and vitality. The projects we build tomorrow must be where we want future growth. Sprawl is uneconomical. Smart growth is responsive to changing needs for housing and economic development. Tomorrow's workforce will not drive an hour on congested roads.
- A case that revenue and reform go hand in hand. Of course we must revitalize public agencies to ensure accountability and promote best practices. But reform without resources will accomplish very little. The best run RTA must provide evening and weekend service to every community it serves. The best run MBTA must start planning today for higher capacity and excellent service tomorrow. And state leaders must act forcefully for long-term investment, and give decision-making authority to communities to improve transportation where it's needed.
- A case that transportation justice is real. Inequity keeps people from work and school, contributes to preventable disease, and holds back neighborhoods and communities. We must work for policies that invest in people wherever they live and work: our cities and rural towns need access to reliable, affordable and safe transportation options.
- A case that our climate is changing, and transportation is driving it. We can't continue to use carbon-based cars, trains, buses and trucks without paying a high price with our environment. Our transportation and energy policies must make an overdue transition to climate-friendly travel. And adaptation to the effects of climate change is urgent as well—transportation planning and construction must account for sea level rise and other changes that are now inevitable.
- A case that smart policies must support innovation. As transportation is revolutionized with technology, these innovations must be steered to support the same goals that we have been striving for: addressing climate change, advancing equity, and ensuring affordability and access. Exacerbating problems is a real possibility without attention to values and goals. We can't trade the status quo just for convenience.
The transportation challenges we face can seem daunting. Fortunately, leaders are everywhere: in every community, business, institution, city and town hall, community organization and of course, in every household.
We will succeed by working together across Massachusetts and beyond, and demanding leadership for positive change. Join us today! Sign up as a partner of our coalition, and work with us as we build a better future for Massachusetts. Help us make the case!