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MIT City Form Lab;
This study examines the transit oriented development (TOD) potential of commuter rail stations in the Greater Boston area.The MBTA has announced plans for major improvements in commuter rail service and connectivity. However appreciated and overdue, transit oriented development that will likely accompany a system-wide commuter rail upgrade may also usher in hazards and blind-spots for planners and policy-makers to address. With TOD come improved amenities, higher land values and more competition for real estate, which in turn could lead to displacement, unaffordability and unequal access for intended beneficiaries. Yet, with coordinated land-use planning, street design and rail planning, there is nevertheless potential to not only enhance access equitably, but to also unlock a large quantity of affordable space that is presently perceived to be outside commuter rail catchment areas, and to shift Greater Boston's growth trajectory from the 20th century car-oriented path to a more sustainable 21st century rail-oriented path.
An update to Massachusetts' climate policy is on the agenda. In the past year, the Massachusetts House and Senate along with Governor Charlie Baker have all put forward substantial policy proposals to deal with various aspects of climate change. From Speaker Robert DeLeo's GreenWorks resiliency grants for cities and towns to the Governor's new ambitious goal of driving the commonwealth to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, state government is taking the issue seriously. The Massachusetts State Senate just passed new legislation to go even further, setting new emissions targets, pricing carbon, and encouraging purchases of electric vehicles. These bills come at a time of growing anxiety among residents about climate change, and reports from the scientific community that grow more alarming by the day.These are among the findings of a new survey of 2,318 residents of Massachusetts conducted by The MassINC Polling Group. This work is the latest in a series, dating back to 2011, that defined a culture of climate protection as 1) recognizing global warming as a problem and priority, 2) supporting policy efforts to curb global emissions, and 3) putting a premium on individual efforts to reduce one's own carbon footprint. This survey shows progress towards all three of these. The survey was preceded by a series of focus groups conducted across Massachusetts. This report includes insights and quotes from that qualitative research alongside the quantitative findings throughout.
Livable Streets Alliance;
In March of 2017, the City of Boston released Go Boston 2030, their long-term mobility plan. Informed by an extensive two-year community engagement process, the plan envisions a city where all residents have better and more equitable travel choices, and aims to create economic opportunity and prepare for climate change. In order to ensure Go Boston 2030 doesn't sit on a shelf, LivableStreets has committed to independently assessing the City's progress on their goals regularly until 2030.Our report found that since Go Boston 2030 was released three years ago, the City of Boston has made important structural changes to their mobility-related departments, budgets, and priorities, including adding millions of dollars and 20 new staff to the transportation department. These changes provide a strong foundation for the progress they are making on implementing several Go Boston 2030 projects and policies. However, implementation of these projects and policies has not yet demonstrated significant progress toward most of Go Boston 2030's goals and targets. It will be important for the City to increase the scale and pace of its projects to stay on track and begin to see more meaningful progress toward its goals and targets.The report includes key findings, recommendations, and deep dives into key projects, including Better Bike Corridors. One section of the report focuses on providing updates on aspirational targets the City laid out in Go Boston 2030, including eliminating traffic fatalities and decreasing commute to work times. In addition, the report includes a project scorecard that provides status updates, evaluations, and recommended next steps for all 33 Go Boston 2030 early action projects and policies, including Walk- and Bike-Friendly Main Streets and Smart Signals Corridors. The report is intended to assess not only the quality and extent of work the City has done, but its overall impact.
A sharp increase in working from home could also spell huge changes in commuting patterns. Massachusetts residents say they will probably be making fewer trips as the state emerges from coronavirus crisis, but more of those trips will be by themselves, according to a new statewide poll out today. On balance, residents expect to drive or walk more, and use all types of shared or public transportation mode less.In all, 35% of residents say they will ride the MBTA subway less than before, and 33% say the same of the commuter rail. Among the most frequent transit users, 44% say they will ride the subway less, and 45% expect to drive more. Young people and Boston residents are among the groups indicating the biggest increases in driving.
A Better City;
Over the past several years, many valuable public realm projects have been implemented in Boston. In 2015, A Better City partnered with the Boston Transportation Department to develop the Public Realm Planning Study for Go Boston 2030. As co-chair of the Go Boston 2030 Plan, A Better City identified the untapped potential of Boston's transportation system to function as a network of vibrant public spaces that would support social, cultural, and economic activities. The process also highlighted a need for new short- and long-term public space strategies to reclaim underutilized transportation infrastructure in our neighborhoods.Building on this work, in December 2018, A Better City partnered with the City of Boston to publish Boston's first Tactical Public Realm Guidelines, designed to catalyze "tactical" interventions—such as plazas, parklets, outdoor cafes, and street murals—that can transform the public realm through lower-cost, rapid implementation. These modest interventions can convert our streets into spaces in which to convene, create, and experiment, fostering more vibrant communities and economies alike. As a testament to the importance of this work, the City of Boston hired a Public Realm Director in 2018 and integrated the Tactical Public Realm Guidelines into the City's Public Improvement Commission review process. A Better City has also worked with the City of Boston to develop sidewalk cafe guidelines and to convene a public realm interagency working group.A Better City has undertaken several public realm projects to date, including two outdoor seating projects in East Boston, a one week pop-up tactical plaza and permanent tactical plaza design in Roslindale Village, and a parklet design on Green Street in Jamaica Plain.The groundwork laid by these projects and the tactical guidelines, proved to be extremely beneficial in 2020 when the global pandemic created a tremendous need for flexible public space to help support local businesses, namely restaurants. For example, in many commercial districts across Boston, parklets were quickly installed to help support physically distanced outdoor dining.This publication includes case study summaries of the planning, design, and implementation process for three projects managed by A Better City—Birch Street Plaza, Green Street Plaza, and Outdoor Seating in East Boston— as well as a fourth case study describing the six pop-up plazas implemented by the City of Boston Director of Public Realm.
Eno Center for Transportation;
There is no silver bullet to fix the woes of urban mobility and access, but congestion pricing is a proven, viable, and effective tool. Charging a fee for the parts of the roadway network used the most during the busiest times of day reduces demand. The charges incentivize travelers to switch to other modes of transportation, seek alternative routes, or travel at other times. The charges can help to reduce negative effects of traffic such as air pollution, carbon emissions, road damage, and traffic crashes.This report seeks to accelerate the development of congestion pricing programs in the U.S. that advance sustainability and equity goals. The report is intended for elected officials, civic leaders, advocates, and agency professionals in cities and metropolitan regions. The principles outlined in this report illustrate key concepts, discuss challenges, and share examples and emerging best practices.
We as a society have made choices that have led to deep inequities. Whether intentional or not, these inequities divide places, races, classes, and cultures across the Commonwealth. To bridge these divisions, policymakers, leaders, and practitioners must reframe decisions and actions with equity as an intentional outcome and part of the process. We write this paper to present a framework of how transit-oriented development (TOD) can help cities, specifically Gateway Cities, embed equity into market-based and other policy tools and practices, thereby transforming their regions through equitable growth and development.This report expands on our 2018 recommendations and lays the groundwork for a series of future policy briefs that will explore the issues covered here in more depth. We call for infusing equity into TOD policies and practices for four specific reasons:Over the past 50 years, demographic change has divided people and communities socially and economically in Gateway City metropolitan regions.Gentrification fears have surged in Gateway Cities' weak real estate markets, where increasing property values threaten to destabilize households and neighborhoods, strip cities of their cultural vibrancy, and put vulnerable residents at risk of displacement and homelessness.Local and nationwide histories of socioeconomic exclusion—particularly along racial and cultural lines—persist today. These histories have exacerbated wealth gaps and income inequality and require both acknowledgement and correction.Finally, a false policy dichotomy that supports either large "urban" or small "nonurban" communities ignores the vital role Gateway Cities play as regional hubs for surrounding towns and cities, thus deepening geographic disparities across the Commonwealth.
Social Science Research Council (SSRC);
In 2007, a life-saving law in Viet Nam mandated that people riding motorbikes wear helmets. The result was a significant decrease in serious head injuries and road traffic deaths.This report provides an update to the 2010 report on the results of the helmet law, and details a new effort to increase the number of children wearing helmets.The change in Viet Nam is an example of the process of creating achievable policy and behavioral change, and this report offers a set of lessons learned that may be applicable to other public health issues.
Institute for Transportation and Development Policy;
While momentum in recent decades has elevated bus rapid transit (BRT) as more than an emerging mode in the U.S., this high-capacity, high-quality bus-based mass transit system remains largely unfamiliar to most Americans. In the U.S., lack of clarity and confusion around what constitutes BRT stems both from its relatively low profile (most Americans have never experienced BRT) and its vague and often conflicting sets of definitions across cities, sectors, and levels of government. As a result, many projects that would otherwise be labeled as bus improvements or bus priority under international standards have become branded in American cities as BRT. This leads to misperceptions among U.S. decisionmakers and the public about what to expect from BRT. Since its inception in Curitiba, Brazil, BRT has become a fixture of urban transport systems in more than 70 cities on six continents throughout the globe. Just twelve BRT corridors exist in the United States so far.This guide offers proven strategies and insights for successfully implementing BRT within the political, regulatory, and social context that is unique to the United States. This guide seeks to illuminate the upward trends and innovations of BRT in U.S. cities. Through three in-depth case studies and other examples, the guide shares the critical lessons learned by several cities that have successfully implemented, or are in the midst of completing, their own BRT corridors. Distinct from previous BRT planning and implementation guides, this is a practical resource to help planners, and policy makers specifically working within the U.S. push beyond the parameters of bus priority and realize the comprehensive benefits of true BRT.
Environmental and Energy Study Institute;
This fact sheet begins a series on commercial aviation, by examining the impact the growth of air travel and freight will have on greenhouse gas emissions. In 1960, 100 million passengers traveled by air, at the time a relatively expensive mode of transportation available only to a small fraction of the public. By 2017, the total annual world-wide passenger count was 4 billion. The "hypermobility" of air travel is available to greater numbers of people worldwide, with rapid growth in aviation projected for developing nations and sustained growth in the large established aviation markets of developed countries. While our collective use of automobiles, our production of electricity, and the industrial and agricultural sectors each exceed the climate change impact of commercial aviation, passenger air travel is producing the highest and fastest growth of individual emissions, despite a significant improvement in efficiency of aircraft and flight operations over the last 60 years.
Taxpayers for Common Sense;
The nation's roads are deteriorating, contributing to a looming financial problem. When we released the first edition of Repair Priorities in 2011, the poor condition of the nation's road network was a direct reflection of decades of decisions to underinvest in repair. In the years since, policymakers continue to pay lip service to the notion of prioritizing repair and "fix-it-first," yet we have little to show for the rhetoric. The latest data in this report shows that the conditions of our roadways have not improved, perpetuating a costly backlog of roads in poor condition. Congress provides states with billions in formula funding that they are free to use for maintenance. Yet, despite the backlog, states continue to spend a significant portion of funding to build new roads, creating costly new maintenance liabilities in the form of new roads and lane-miles. We need to take much stronger action as a nation to reverse the deterioration of our infrastructure. We need a different set of priorities—not simply a higher level of overall investment. We now have years of evidence that simply increasing funding for highways does not solve the problem—the same spending patterns persist: underinvestment in repair and overinvestment in expanding a highway system that we cannot afford to maintain.
Weinberger & Associates;
The Barr Foundation's BostonBRT initiative was convened in 2013 as part of Barr's climate program. Acknowledging that any serious efforts to address climate change must advance solutions for mobility, BostonBRT sought to determine technical feasibility of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the Boston Region, and, in the event that BRT was feasible, to advance a conversation within the Greater Boston community to build regional support for BRT.In 2018, Barr hired Weinberger & Associates to conduct a systematic review of the BRT initiative. The review was to measure Barr's progress and to assess the appropriate role for the Barr Foundation as BRT implementation continues. The work was conducted by and the report authored by Weinberger & Associates.The document describes the transportation and climate crises facing Boston and the Boston region, looking closely at the impetus for the BostonBRT initiative. It then looks at the planning context for BRT projects, contrasting the US experience with apparent "overnight" successes abroad. It discusses Barr grantmaking to date and the resulting achievements of the BostonBRT initiative. It highlights some apparent challenges to BRT implementation in the Boston region and points to potential scenarios that might facilitate the goal of implementing Gold Standard BRT in Greater Boston. The concluding section summarizes the consultant's analysis and provides recommendations to the Barr Foundation on how to move the initiative forward.