Transportation

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MA Transportation Finance

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Current Projects

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Recent Presentations

On February 12, 2013, Stephanie Pollack spoke to an eco-salon hosted by Environmental Entrepreneurs, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Transportation for Massachusetts on transportation greenhouse gas emissions, Massachusetts’ progress toward achieving its Global Warming Solutions Act transportation sector emissions targets and the importance of increasing transportation investment in reducing transportation GHG;  A Win/Win Strategy: Fixing Transportation and Reducing GHG Emissions in MA

On December 12, 2012, Stephanie Pollack addressed the Regional Transportation The Regional Transportation Advisory Council (RTAC, or the Advisory Council), an independent group charged with providing public input on transportation planning to the Boston Region MPO, and provided an overview of recent Dukakis Center research including both the Staying on Track and Hub and Spoke  reports:  RTAC presentation.

On November 19, 2012, the Dukakis Center released a comprehensive set of sustainable transportation indicators for greater Boston and Massachusetts at the fall meeting of the Greater Boston Sustainable Communities Consortium, as part of the Staying on Track transportation metrics project: Plenary Presentation for Staying on Track Indicators .

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Transportation Research Team

The Dukakis Center’s transportation work is directed by Stephanie Pollack, associate director for research, who came to the Dukakis Center with more than two decades of experience on transportation policy issues, primarily at the Conservation Law Foundation, New England’s leading environmental advocacy group. A nationally-recognized expert on transportation policy and transit-oriented development, she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Transportation Advisory Committee, chairs the Transportation Advisory Committee in her hometown of Newton and co-chaired Governor Deval Patrick’s 2006 transition working group on transportation.

The full team includes:

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Massachusetts Transportation Finance and Policy

The Dukakis Center’s transportation research team has been hard at work for several years generating and sharing high quality research on topics relevant to solving Massachusetts’ transportation finance crisis in the hopes that this research and analysis will help inform the ongoing debate over how we can better and more effectively invest in the Commonwealth’s transportation system.   We do not have a position on particular pieces of legislation but instead are working – with many different allies – toward the goal of ensuring that the Commonwealth has sufficient and sustainable funding for a modernized, 21st century transportation system that can improve our economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability.  While this work addresses all aspects of the Commonwealth’s transportation system, we focus particularly on policy issues affecting the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA or T) and smaller regional transit agencies throughout the Commonwealth because well-run, financially stable transit systems are essential to achieving a myriad of important urban and regional policy goals including improving mobility and access to opportunity, growing jobs and the state’s economy, combating sprawl, reducing dependence on imported oil and achieving greenhouse gas reduction goals. As with all of our work, the Dukakis Center is committed to addressing transit finance and policy from a fresh perspective and to working with a broad range of partners and stakeholders to conduct research and create policy tools that address some of the most pressing challenges facing the transportation and transit systems in Massachusetts and throughout the nation.

Transportation Finance Research

Comparing Transportation Revenue Packages:  Legislative Proposals vs. Governor’s Budget, FY14-18: The most recent fact sheet in our series was issued on April 10 and compares the transportation revenue packages included in the current legislative proposals (most recently the Senate Ways and Means bill) with the first five years of the transportation finance plan included in Governor Patrick’s budget proposal.

Three more fact sheets and other resources on Massachusetts transportation finance and policy are listed below:

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In addition, the Testimony of Stephanie Pollack Before the Joint Committee on Transportation (March 12, 2013)  includes a Top Ten list of advice for shaping a legislative package to address Massachusetts’ longstanding transportation crisis.

Transportation Finance Research Collaborative

The Dukakis Center has received generous support from the Barr Foundation to work with A Better City (ABC) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) to conduct research to help inform the ongoing policy discussion in Massachusetts about options for increasing public investment in our statewide transportation system.  The three organizations formed a Transportation Finance Research Collaborative and the Collaborative’s first research effort involved researching, documenting and learning from recent efforts in metropolitan areas and states around the country to address similar transportation finance challenges.

Click here to see the work generated by the Transportation Finance Research Collaborative.

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The MBTA and Public Transit in Massachusetts

The Kitty & Michael Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy conducts research and works on policy issues affecting the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA or T) and smaller regional transit agencies throughout the Commonwealth because well-run, financially stable transit systems are essential to achieving a myriad of important urban and regional policy goals including improving mobility and access to opportunity, growing jobs and the state’s economy, combating sprawl, reducing dependence on imported oil and achieving greenhouse gas reduction goals.  The transit services provided by the (MBTA) and Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) provide access to housing, employment, education, health care, and other critical services to everyone, regardless of whether they own or can drive a car.  In order to achieve transit’s potential, however, adequate funding needs to be put in place to support and improve existing services, maintain transit vehicles and assets, and expand service frequency and availability to better serve both current and potential transit users statewide.  Instead, transit services in Massachusetts are in crisis, with fare increases and service cutbacks already implemented or imminent at the RTAs and, now, at the MBTA.

The Dukakis Center supports smart and sustained investment in transit statewide, with the goal of creating the best public transportation system in the United States, one that can realize the full potential of transit as a transportation option of “first resort” and help the Commonwealth achieve its economic development, transportation and sustainability goals. As with all of our work, the Dukakis Center is committed to addressing transit finance and policy from a fresh perspective and to working with a broad range of partners and stakeholders to conduct research and create policy tools that address some of the most pressing challenges facing transit systems in Massachusetts and throughout the nation.

“While the financial picture is grim, it is important to note that the MBTA is too valuable an economic asset to permit its further deterioration or even collapse.  A robust public transportation system provides vital economic and quality-of-life benefits to residents from all walks of life and to businesses in the communities it serves.”

MBTA Review (D’Alessandro report), November 2009

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Transportation, Equity and Neighborhood Change

One of the driving forces behind the Dukakis Center’s work – in transportation as well as other focus areas such as housing – is the need to marshal data in support of policy change that directly addresses racial and other forms of inequity. Many “transportation disadvantaged” groups find that their access to opportunity is limited by an auto-centric transportation system; these groups, which cannot always rely on or easily afford the use of automobiles, may include low income households, households without vehicles, youth, seniors, disabled people, people with language barriers and households in isolated/transit-inaccessible locations.

With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Dukakis Center recently completed a research project examining the diversity of transit-rich neighborhoods, the symbiotic relationship between diverse neighborhoods and successful transit, and patterns of neighborhood change in transit-rich neighborhoods. This research found that transit investment can sometimes lead to undesirable forms of neighborhood change. Understanding the mechanisms behind such neighborhood change can, however, allow policymakers, planners and advocates to implement policies and programs designed to produce more equitable patterns of neighborhood change. Along with a research report, the Dukakis Center therefore released a Policy Toolkit for Equitable Transit-Rich Neighborhoods, which presents information on a variety of polity tools that are increasingly available and in use across the country to shape equitable neighborhood change in transit-rich neighborhoods and ensure that the many benefits of transit investment are shared by all.

More on Diversity in Transit-Rich Neighborhoods
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Sustainable Transportation

The transportation sector is responsible for a substantial and rapidly growing proportion of greenhouse gas emissions; in Massachusetts, the transportation sector represents both the largest and the fastest growing segment of Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas inventory. A complicated set of demographic, economic, transportation and other factors drive the state’s travel and transportation patterns. Because transportation is such a complicated issue, policymakers and advocates struggle to understand where the “leverage points” are in the system and what types of policy and programs can actually produce changes in travel behavior and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Dukakis Center is working to address this challenge at both the local and state level.

The Dukakis Center’s transportation team leader, Stephanie Pollack, was asked by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to serve on the city’s Climate Action Leadership Committee. With transportation-related emissions constituting the fastest-growing category of greenhouse gases in Massachusetts, the committee’s attention quickly turned to the transportation sector. Pollack served on a small transportation working group and helped develop a menu of specific recommendations for reducing the carbon footprint of metropolitan Boston’s transportation sector. These were incorporated into the Climate Action Leadership Committee’s 2010 report, Sparking Boston’s Climate Revolution, a blueprint for reducing Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20% or more by 2020. StreetsBlog praised the transportation recommendations, noting that “In the race to have the “greenest, greatest” city, Menino is making Boston a contender.”

At the state and regional level, the Dukakis Center believes that collecting, analyzing and presenting a broad range of data about greater Boston’s transportation system can shed light on how the system works (or doesn’t), a necessary first step toward changing the transportation system to make it more sustainable. Development of a comprehensive set of sustainable transportation indicators can be a critical tool in the effort to “bend the curve” and reduce transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions by identifying system changes that can reduce the amount of driving and increase travel on foot, by bicycle and on transit in greater Boston. Our belief in the power of a metrics-driven approach to policy change is based on a decade of experience applying this strategy to the Center’s work on affordable housing. With the support of The Barr Foundation, the Dukakis Center is preparing a benchmark report documenting of a comprehensive set of sustainable transportation indicators for Massachusetts, with a particular focus on the greater Boston region.
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