How does the way our region gets around affect us as people? Get the whole (illustrated) story with this new, original piece by local graphic novelist Anna Christine. This graphic story was created to help community members relate their own lives to some of the issues around land use and transportation.
This comic was created as part of MetroCommon 2050 and is free for use by planners, policy-makers, and others to use as a tool to educate stakeholders.
In March 2018, I learned the full meaning of the phrase "You can't get there from here." Like many residents of Greater Boston, I relied on public transportation and worked several jobs.
52% of all trips in Massachusetts are three miles or less, but 80% of those trips are made using cars. I can understand why! By car, my commute would have taken me 45 minutes. By public transportation, it took an hour and a half. And that's not even counting the fact that the 51 bus only came once an hour, so I had to leave extra early to make sure I got to my class on time!
Car ownership adds another piece to this story. While car use makes up a big percentage of trips in Massachusetts, car ownership broken down by race shows that white households, on average, have greater numbers of vehicles per household than other households.
Think of all the trips you make per week. Do you take public transit on your daily commute? Do you take it to the grocery store? When you go to the bank of the laundromat?
Lots of us rely on buses that only come once an hour for essentials like groceries or laundry. And in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed just how important public transit is for frontline and service workers.
The disconnect between where we live and where we need to go -- jobs, stores, schools -- is hard for many. That includes for some low-income communities, communities of color, and suburban communities. And this also has a negative impact on our environment: transportation emissions account for 40% of the Commonwealth's greenhouse gas emissions!
Commuting in Boston is miserable, whether by car or by transit. A poll by MassInc showed 30% of full-time employees had considered changing jobs for a better commute, and 23% had considered moving out of their neighborhood entirely. And that was before remote work became more common.
Even though I loved the students, I eventually quit this after-school job. The length of the commute meant that the money I earned teaching wasn't worth the time I spent getting there and back.
So how do we make Greater Boston into an accessible and well-connected network of places, jobs, and green space where we can all thrive? We can make sure our transportation investments match our land use decisions, benefiting the community as a whole and not just a lucky few.
Housing, jobs, schools, grocery stores, transit, and other amenities are planned together to make accessible and walkable. Our natural resources are clean and protected. Bicycling is safe and easy. Transit infrastructure is well-maintained and funded. Public art builds human-centered, inclusive, and inspiring place-making.
Looking for ways to make these goals a reality? Check out the MetroCommon 2050 recommendations at metrocommon.mapc.org for actionable steps. Let's shape the region together!
MetroCommon 2050 is Greater Boston's new policy and land use plan. For more information, please visit metrocommon.mapc.org.
Learn more about artist Anna Christine on her website.