MAPC: MassDOT Congestion Study Takes Several Steps in the Right Direction

For immediate release:
Thursday, August 8, 2019

BOSTON -- The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) today issued a statement thanking MassDOT and Governor Charlie Baker for completing a long-awaited study examining the root causes and potential solutions for worsening traffic congestion in Massachusetts.

“The study is a positive step in the right direction and lays a solid foundation for examining the factors that contribute to congestion on our roadways,” MAPC Executive Director Marc Draisen said.

“Through the report’s recommendations, MassDOT makes clear that  aggressive steps need to be taken to make each day’s travel easier and more reliable. Congestion is a big problem that can only be addressed through bold action. Without such action, we risk losing people and jobs to other areas of the country where commuting is less costly and stressful.”

Further, Draisen noted, “It's important to remember that congestion affects transit riders, too, especially riders on the busiest bus and subway lines. The most important thing we can do to reduce all forms of congestion is to expand the capacity and reliability of public transportation. By creating more capacity on the MBTA and bus network, we can spur more people to leave their cars at home, further reducing traffic.”

He expressed satisfaction that the report specifically discussed the need to produce more affordable housing near transit stops.

“Policy makers often fail to note the link between housing and transportation, but the two are really inseparable because where people live affects how they commute, and transportation options influence where people choose to live. Without a coordinated strategy to help people live closer to their jobs and to commute without a car, we won’t make a meaningful dent in our regional congestion.”

Draisen noted however that the Commonwealth already spends every dollar it allocates to build affordable housing.

“Expanding the supply of affordable housing can only be accomplished by raising and spending additional resources in this arena,” he said.

The study confirmed what many commuters already know, which is that rush hour has expanded to last much of the day, meaning incentives for off-peak travel will only go so far toward addressing this crisis.

“We need to take a long, hard look at adopting an appropriate form of congestion pricing, one that will actually work in the current environment.  And we must recognize that adding travel lanes for general automotive travel will only encourage people to take more trips by car and increase greenhouse gas emissions,”  Draisen noted, adding “This study identified the worst traffic corridors in the state, giving us good data upon where to focus  improvements to both roads and transit. We must act quickly and decisively for the health of our state’s economy.”

Amanda Linehan
Communications Director, MAPC