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We have to start thinking about land use and density post-COVID. And no, I don’t mean getting less dense. The Iowa versus So. Korea numbers answers that. No, I mean 15-20 min neighborshoods. This means people don’t have to try or even use transit for their daily needs.
That can be a little scary for those of us who want to see transit ridership rebound. But we have to rethink what makes transit successful. We have to center equity, livability, and sustainability. This means reviving main streets in EJ communities to have healthy food options.
Also, I meant “drive” not try earlier. But it also means you need to turn over more street space to pedestrians, cyclists, & micro-mobility users. We have to reallocate public curb space from storing private vehicles to accommodate the long term shift to deliveries.
The future of transportation commission outlined that transportation agencies should be thinking about mobility for the future, not just moving people (or as they do now, cars) around. Mobility might mean a publically owned service for elders and those with disabilities.
It might mean that T becomes a significant player in shaping land use. Using parking lots that might not ever reach 2019 levels again for housing and mixed use development. Prioritizing low-income units in places like Newton and Brookline and moderate-income housing in Gateway...
Cities. Gateway Cities could capture some of the companies looking to abandon pricey downtown office space. Instead of a low slung, suburban office park reachable only by highway. Jobs could be integrated into Main Streets allowing workers to live and/or shop in those cities.
Perhaps mobility is working with other Executive Offices to make sure the Berkshires and communities on the Cape have good broadband service for remote opportunities. Some of these ideas might not add to transit ridership, but they increase economic mobility, decrease congestion.
They also make for a more resilient system. I know we have a desire to get back to normal. But as my friend Stacy from @StreetsBoston says “the status quo was inequitable and was killing people”. Let’s not go back to that.
Despite having the fourth or fifth highest transit ridership, as much as 68% of people in the metro still drive. Almost all of them alone. That isn’t good enough for climate or equity. As much as I want our ridership to grow, I’m realistic about the long road ahead for transit.
While folks are a bit irrational, see the inconsistency between ppl ready to shop vs use the train, the reasons they don’t trust transit were true before COVID. Filthy stations, late trains, crowded buses, and etc. COVID has highlighted these things. As the T works on them and
regains public trust we must do everything we can to not have a massive shift to cars. Every person who chooses a bike to commute or works from home removes a car from the path of the people we laud as heroes. We have the bend the curve of congestion as agressively as COVID.
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