Lessons from the Commission on the Future of Transportation

The future of transportation in Massachusetts is multimodal, carbon-neutral, and equitable – or at least should be, according to the panelists at our recent event discussing Choices for Stewardship, the highly-anticipated report released by the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Transportation. The report lays out a vision for mobility in the Commonwealth between today and 2040. (If you missed the event, you can check out a recording of the livestream here!)

Speaking to a standing room-only crowd of more than 400, Commission Chair Steve Kadish and Commission member Ken Kimmell presented on the report recommendations with a particular focus on how we plan for the future in a changing climate. A panel featuring Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, Braintree Mayor and MassDOT Board Member Joe Sullivan, Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Executive Director of the Tri-State (NY/NJ/CT) Transportation Campaign Nick Sifuentes, and Senior Director of Policy & Public Affairs at Lime Emily Castor Warren shared their insights with moderator Shirley Leung as representatives of the sectors that are key to bringing about the transportation future Massachusetts deserves.

Here’s our take on three of the most important insights from the panel:

-- It’s about people. The phrase “move people, not vehicles” has long been a mantra for advocates and progressive planners, and many were gratified to hear it as the official policy focus for the Commonwealth moving forward. A people-centric approach to transportation starts with recognizing that, on a fundamental level, better transportation makes everything better. The difference between a good and bad transportation experience means stress, lost wages, missed appointments, and less time with family; for a region over time, it can mean a slowdown in growth and an exacerbation of inequities. Putting people at the center of our transportation planning and focusing on why transportation deeply matters to people, and their quality of life, positions us to make choices that benefit the most people in the most places.

-- Success does exist – and we can build on what’s working. Transportation bright spots do exist throughout the state. More communities are offering bike-share, testing elements of Bus Rapid Transit, or getting smarter on appropriately pricing driving and parking. City and state agencies are working together on improvements like transit signal priority and accelerated bridge improvements. Transportation leaders are active in every community, and many never set foot in the State House. When we look to the future of transportation, we aren’t starting from square one, and we should build on best practices here and in other places – even in the face of attractive but untested technology options that promise to solve many of our problems.

-- We need to break down barriers and old thinking. People are going to more places in more ways than ever before, creating a need for new and creative partnerships with the public and private sectors, and at various levels of government. Some of this is due to new technology – e-scooters, TNCs, and autonomous vehicles are certainly testing the limits of state regulations and current street design. But larger forces are in play, such as the evolution away from the traditional 9-5 workday, which calls into question the current structure of our commuter rail system and the need for tolls to be a fixed price, all day every day. Future needs for transportation will be flexible, and our policies should be, too.

We’ll be drawing on these lessons in the year ahead as we advocate for better and smarter transportation policies statewide.

We are grateful to the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts for co-sponsoring the event with us, and to the members of the Commission, whose report includes a set of 18 recommendations and excellent set of background material

Here are some social media posts from the event! 





Statement on the Report of the Commission on the Future of Transportation

Statement from Chris Dempsey, T4MA, on the Governor's Commission on the Future of Transportation report

Today’s report from Governor Baker’s Commission on the Future of Transportation is good news for every Massachusetts citizen who cares about our environment, transportation system or economy.


Governor Baker on Reducing Transportation Pollution

Addressing transportation and climate change is a critical issue for Massachusetts now and in the years to come. That's why on November 1, we were glad to see Governor Baker support a market-based, regional approach to reducing pollution from transportation, the largest source of carbon emissions in Massachusetts.

As the Governor noted, carbon credits have been successful in reducing emissions in the power sector while also strengthening our economy. A similar regional solution for transportation emissions could support modernization of our transportation system, as well as projects that protect Massachusetts from climate change, which the Governor stated as a top priority for a potential second term.

We look forward to Massachusetts being a leader, in partnership with other states, in reducing transportation pollution, and along with it, the incidence of asthma and respiratory issues that pollution causes.

Watch the clip from the Gubernatorial debate here (starts around 2m15s): 

Learn more about T4MA's support for transportation and climate solutions:


Commonwealth Magazine op-ed




Comments on the MassDOT Pedestrian Plan and MBTA Focus40

Transportation for Massachusetts recently submitted comment letters on the MassDOT Statewide Pedestrian Plan and Focus40, the long range plan for the MBTA. Along with several other coalitions and organizations, we have been engaged with MassDOT and MBTA planners during the development of these forward-looking documents, and we value the opportunity to provide input as these plans move towards final approval and implementation.


How Smarter Tolling Can Help Bus Riders, Too

Better transportation means better bus service on the MBTA and on our 15 Regional Transit Authorities. And every bus rider knows that traffic is an impediment to good, reliable service. So if we want better public transit, we need our roads to work better, too.


Smarter Tolling: On to Round 2

On August 3,  Governor Baker vetoed a pilot program that would have tested smarter tolling, despite strong bipartisan support in the Legislature. Because formal legislation sessions have concluded for 2017-2018, there is no possibility of a veto override.


State Senate Adopts Smarter Tolling Pilot Program Amendment

The Massachusetts State Senate yesterday voted in support of a pilot program of smarter tolling that would reduce tolls at off-peak hours on certain roads, a key policy priority advanced by Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA). The provision, adopted as part of the Senate budget, will now be included in conference committee budget discussions with the House of Representatives.


Bike Week 2018

Bicycles are efficient, economical and environmentally friendly. Bikes are for everyday transportation as well as healthy recreation. With safe cycling infrastructure and better roadway design, Massachusetts can move people around more easily, with benefits to our health, our economy and our climate.

During Bike Week, many organizations celebrate cycling and highlight events, routes and investments to improve Bay State bicycling. We are pleased to share these events, and other efforts to make Massachusetts safer for cycling, including legislation and capital investments.


Voter choice on transportation projects: are we missing out?

It's common across the United States for local voters to decide whether to fund transportation projects. In Colorado, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and many other states, cities or counties bring proposals directly to the public. Transit, roads, bikeways and more projects are often funded through locally-assessed taxes. But not yet in Massachusetts.



Autonomous Vehicle Fatality: a Wake up Call

T4MA, MassBike, and WalkBoston

On March 18, an autonomous vehicle (AV) killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Initial evidence suggests that the backup driver was distracted, and the vehicle did not make any attempt to avoid the collision. This should serve as a wake-up call. We believe that with the right policies and procedures in place, autonomous vehicle testing can be safe. However, it is clear that at least in some conditions, this is not yet the case.


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