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What values should a 21st-century transportation system embody?

What approaches do you think are most important to get Massachusetts on the pathway to a 21st-century transportation system?

What three lead actions should be taken in your region to start on that pathway?

Share Your Thoughts

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19 Ideas Shared

Vote on your favorite ideas to improve Massachusetts' transportation system.


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    John Vitagliano says:

    I have formerly served as the Boston Transportation Commissioner and as a Massport Board member for 14 years, and strongly recommend that the proposed North Station-South Station Connection be fully funded and expedited. This extremely beneficial project is long overdue and would be a major enhancement of the entire Greater Boston rail network, everything within Route 495 because of the project’s connectivities with the commuter rail network and the MBTA. Furthermore, the North Station-South Station Connection project would provide a favorable benefit/cost ratio in comparison with other proposals, and provide significant economic benefits to the Greater Boston economy.
    John Vitagliano


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    Mike Richardi says:

    Value the basics: Focus and place effort on moving passengers safely, efficiently and effectively. Sticking with Mass transit for people – over an extended period – seems the way to ease stress on the movement of goods and services as well. Greenline derailments must be publicly addressed. They’re an embarrassment to the State.
    Approaches: Ridership has to be increased: they don’t make enough money to address my region’s trans. problems, let alone New England’s. Increase ridership by changing attitudes 1- through advertising that lampoons auto ads: there’s a lot of beef, jerky, to lampoon. 2- Get smarter about information by A -Aggregating detail information of all aspects of current use and keeping detailed history – including weather B – MassDOT’s roads data base can be viewed as a network. Among other things, Anonymous Cell phone data, sometimes used now for highway speed analysis might be used for public trans. users – to get origin and destination data. The use of network science and involvement of specialists at all levels familiar with networks – social and transportation, will help with understanding where the holes in service are now and how flexible – what pieces – of the future system should be. Some of the best and brightest minds in the world are within 20 miles: there has to be a way to encourage their involvement. C – Engagement: Gather data by encouraging people to ‘play games’ with transportation alternatives, including meeting other people. Involve game theorists, to look at how transportation decisions are made, and to help define the edges of regions where public transportation is cost effective. Doing so, with tons of historical data, might keep us moving in the right direction.
    3 Lead Actions: 2- For a 21st century transportation system, stop with the 19th century ‘bring home the bacon’ politics of transportation financing, and show leadership in educating the public about how the financing works AND how we intend to make it pay for itself by focusing on the basics. When there’s a surplus, some way of capturing it for ‘the greater good’ has to be devised.
    1-Globally, but especially in my region, we MUST begin to capture more data about parking, public transportation, origin/destination and overall transportation use. 3 Subtly Lead the public AWAY from more lanes on highways. Begin a serious integration of transportation (network) components that shows some comprehension of what the “moving pieces” are. Or make that broadly available if you have already started it.


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    I applaud this effort to engage citizens in shaping the transportation system that directly affects the quality of their lives on a daily basis.

    In doing so, there should be a explicit recognition that many (if not most) people do not believe that “the government” will actually engage with them in a meaningful way.

    A former Secretary of the U.S. DOT has says (see link) that DOT’s #1 Challenge is to stop the historic tendency of transportation engineers to make decisions about projects and THEN defend those decisions to the public. Also known as the “Decide-Announce-Defend” approach.

    Whenever citizens realize that “the fix is in” and that their input is only “for show”, then that creates distrust in government.

    That distrust can lead to citizen frustration and then anger, when public meetings are mis-labelled as “listening sessions” and other feel-good names.

    https://t.co/MIbG2fiw8h

    To be meaningful and, so, to create trust, the Commonwealth should provide for an *ongoing* conversation (like this platform, not just a series of meetings) about how to improve the public’s trust and engagement in the public planning of MassDOT projects.

    That should include information about how a citizen can report any failure by MassDOT to comply with the legal requirements for Public Planning. (I can NOT find anyone at MassDOT who is willing to consider that ANY such failure has EVER happened.)

    best,
    Stephen Buckley @OpenChatham
    http://twitter.com/openchatham


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      Mike Richardi says:

      I did not want to respond to your post, Stephen, in an attempt to be optimistic. The South shore meeting was essentially a ‘focus group’ session to evaluate what key words to avoid, in order to sell the MAPC product.
      No mention of safety.
      No mention of Green line derailments.
      Politicians arrived late, had lunch and left early


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        Michael W Dane says:

        Delphi methods employed to steer the group to a predetermined outcome.. Nothing new, all of these meetings are similar and participants are used by the group facilitators to create the illusion of public buy in.


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    Claudia Cass says:

    Berkshire Country residents are virtually cut off from the rest of the state unless they drive cars. We need rail transport to Boston more than once daily. We need rail service to Springfield and to Albany, NY for JOBS. We need rail service from Pittsfield to NYC so our second home owners can live here and commute there.


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    Paul Lauenstein says:

    Solar powered transit systems such as jpods (http://www.jpods.com) could help reduce emissions, enhance safety, and get people around more efficiently.


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    Robert Kearns says:

    We need to connect the Commonwealth through a system of Rail, Bus and Public Transportation Services. The North South Rail Link connects the commuter rail and Amtrak Services of Massachusetts and the Region and must be made a priority over the expansion of South Station. There should be South Coast Rail as well as a high speed commuter rail to Western Massachusetts. These locations have been neglected by the state for public transportation and we can not forget them any longer. MBTA needs to be fully funded and public, no privatization and we need zero emission electric buses and locomotives. There needs to be local and regional bike lanes and paths, so people can bike around town and through the region. Also local buses through the suburbs should have connections that go across town, rather than just through town to metro areas. For example, there is no bus connecting East Braintree Neighborhoods with the Western Part of town. There is just bus lines that go North and South, forcing people to own their own cars. Transit system needs to be made not only for commuters from suburbs to the city for work, but for people living in communities to use public transportation to get around their local town and cities, to get around the Commonwealth and the Northeast Region.


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      Mark Shapp says:

      Mr. Kearns:

      As a concept the North/South Rail Link with the potential for through-routing of MBTA commuter trains and Amtrak intercity trains, assuming those trains survive the Trump administration, Heritage Foundation-authored evisceration, is absolutely what’s needed in the Boston metro region.

      But from an engineering standpoint, at exactly what location do the promoters of this plan think they will begin the incline to the tunnels south of Back Bay or South Stations. I’ve ridden that territory to/from the NEC and the Framingham/Worcester lines and I don’t see where that can happen. The former is down in a narrow cut for miles south of BBY and the latter is hemmed in west of BBY by the be all and end all of MA transportation (according to MassDOT-can’t help the sarcasm) the MassPike. And the Orange Line ROW plunked down in the middle of the two converging Amtrak/commuter rail lines exactly where that incline should be.


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    Chris Lamothe says:

    Self-driving vehicles are poised to revolutionize transportation in the not too distant future. Large scale transportation infrastructure projects should be considered through that lens, where efficiencies are gained as people move away from car ownership. Let’s ensure we’re not building ourselves into a future state meant to solve for our current state, with massive transport systems that become obsolete.

    That said, there are some immediate improvements to our existing systems that should be deployed. On the North Shore – it’s the Lynn to Boston water ferry. On the scale of investments required for transportation infrastructure – it’s relatively small. We need to dispense with the notion that it shouldn’t be subsidized – no major public transportation system doesn’t benefit from some government subsidy. Locally, this includes the Hingham Ferry as an example.


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      Mark Shapp says:

      If this not a thinly-veiled pitch for disinvesting in commuter rail, heavy rail (subways), light rail, and local bus services I don’t know what would be. So Mr. Lamothe, if your predicted vision comes to pass leading to evermore autos out on streets and highways of the large metro regions around the nation as people forsake transit, that won’t increase traffic congestion and vehicle emissions to levels not yet seen? Traffic congestion now, especially, but not limited to, peak commuting hours, in metro regions like New York City, Chicago, and Boston is already intolerable. It is only tempered somewhat by the transit systems taking thousands of potential commuters off the road. Kill off the transit systems and why won’t what’s approaching gridlock now get even worse?


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    Michael W Dane says:

    Make every mode of transportation self supporting. Tax bicycles to pay for bike paths. Have public transportation fares cover the cost of the service provided. Boondoggles like Union Station or the Olver Transportation Center should be required to reimburse the taxpayers for this outragous waste of public funds. Make air passenger pay for their security by adding the cost to the ticket. Use the gasoline and fuel taxes collected used only for road construction and maintence and open bidding to non union contractors for all public works projects.


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    Travis Wojcik says:

    The North-South Rail Link is the most important transportation project that could be undertaken in the near future. I personally agree with John, in that it needs to be funded and expedited. Upon completion, an indigo line/urban ring hybrid service could be implemented from the future West Station along the Grand Junction line thru Cambridge into downtown Boston back thru Back Bay and returning to West Station with minimal additional construction. This new link and service would also provide congestion relief to the Green and Orange Lines from North Station to the Back Bay/Kenmore neighborhoods and Red Line from South Station to Cambridge. The Rail Link would also free up more trackage for potential Springfield, Worcester, Boston high-speed rail as Deborah mentioned in her comments; even more than the proposed South Station Expansion would offer. Any new trains purchased would have to be faster, quieter, more reliable, and efficient electric trains. Finally, the Blue Line, which is the only subway line without commuter rail connection and the only line with reliable Airport access, would receive a connection to every commuter rail line at Aquarium. This would enable travel times to Logan by train comparable to or quicker than driving.

    It’s clear to me that this connection is a very important transportation project. The Link should be pushed forward because it is the only project that accomplishes three major actions. Major long-term congestion relief would be provided to the subway system, a massive increase in commuter rail connectivity would set the stage for immense increased ridership and service expansions, and platform space at South Station would be freed up for Amtrak to create their next-generation high-speed rail hub within the existing station. Every level of rail, local (rapid transit), regional, and inter-city, would benefit from this necessary investment.


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    Susan Ringler, Transportation Working Group of 350MA says:

    I went to one of the “workshops” and agree with the comment that it was more focus group than conversation. There were only certain choices given and then we were polled – so you had to pick among what was offered. It certainly felt to me that it was mostly a marketing ploy. It felt like the people running the “workshop” tended towards certain solutions. For example, there was mention of Bus
    Rapid Transit (BRT) which is very expensive, involves new buses and new bus stops. There was no mention of dedicated bus lanes that could also be shared by bicycles ( a very low cost solution involving no new buses or bus stops). Giving buses dedicated lanes in congested corridors has been proven extensively in European cities. The amount of time saved by not sitting in traffic means the same driver paid for the same number of hours can make more trips, shortening commute time, upping ridership, and increasing fares collected. We don’t need to study this. We just need to do it.


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    Deborah Huber says:

    Connectability. Apparently that isn’t a word! Springfield needs easy connection for commuters to Worcester, Boston, Albany and visa versa. And South to Hartford and NYC as well as North to Brattleboro and further north as far as Canada. It should be easy for people to get from one place to another.

    Locally, roads need to be improved to accommodate multiple uses. Bikes, Pedestrians and cars. Bike “multi use paths” need to connect to roads and other communities instead of being small separate entities.

    Actions to be taken in Springfield Area/Western Mass:
    1. Make the RiverWalk connect at the South End to the streets & the South End Bridge over to Agawam/West Springfield Paths… so the path connects people to other parts of the city like Forest Park, having to use stairs and an elevator to get over the RR tracks is insane and the path dead ends in a secluded area, not user friendly at all.

    2. Improve the existing roadways, to accommodate multi use, bike LANES, cross walks, …. Springfield needs the 2017 Complete Streets Allocation it has been denied.

    3. Educate all road users to current laws and proper procedures for sharing the road.


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    Gabor Lukacs says:

    Western mass perspective (Amherst). As they say, “The bicycle is a very simple solution to some of the world’s most complex problems”. People will use whatever system is the easiest and safest. If we build infrastructure primarily to cars and hide, as well as generalize, all associated costs, the car will rule the roads (as we are witnessing currently). If we make it easy to bicycles to have a big share, and publicize all the costs associated with cars, transportation will shift towards the bicycle. The idea and implementation is not new, Europe does it. Creating the political will may be the most challenging. Climate change may be supportive, the question is do we have enough time once climate change is in full swing to create the needed transportation changes which many economic powers oppose powerfully.
    Big words of course. I like a cozy life, even if it is more local, so I am car-less and bike-full, with many cargo bikes and different bikes for different circumstances (winter, or rain, heat or hills). But I still have to endanger my life daily to do that. When will we have the political will to create safety for all by setting and enforcing low speed limits, narrower roads, and give the full costs to car-driving that it generates, rather than subsidize it from public resources? I guess we need a transportation system that keeps us active and healthy even if it is slower in the moment, in spite of ourselves and our all encompassing comfort addiction.


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    Ellen Leaman says:

    Low Low Co2 emissions. More driverless low cost taxis for door to door transportation. More small group travel options. Faster trains.


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    Cindy Thomas says:

    How are the needs of people with disabilities and our aging population being integrated into this work?


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    Cindy Thomas says:

    In looking at your website I see a reference in the equity section to insuring broad access and you site the Uber example for people who don’t have bank accts – great example, by the way. It is critical that this conversation also considers the needs of our aging population and people of disabilities, both of whom face major barriers when it comes to transportation.