The Future of Transportation Commission: Looking Back, Looking Ahead


Future of Transportation Commission members, transportation leaders converge to reflect on the anniversary of the Commission’s report

It has been one year since Governor Baker’s Commission on the Future of Transportation released its recommendationsfor how to prepare Massachusetts’ transportation network for the challenges of 2040. The report put forth a bold set of recommendations for how to achieve reliable, clean, and accessible transportation for everyone in the Commonwealth. It tackled everything from impacts of climate change to the rise in autonomous and electric vehicle technology to adopting transit-oriented land use.

On Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, over 200 people joined MAPC, Transportation for Massachusetts, and the American Council of Engineering Companies-Massachusetts at Suffolk University to reflect on the  year since the report’s release and consider what challenges and opportunities lie ahead. MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack kicked off the event with remarks about what the agency is doing to advance the Commission’s recommendations including the recent announcement of a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) , which is a policy proposal to reduce emissions from the transportation sector in multiple states and jurisdictions in the Northeast United States.

Steve Kadish, Chair of the Commission, followed the Secretary with a comprehensive look back at key milestones achieved since the Commission’s report release last year. Highlights included the MBTA’s $1 billion capital investment in public transit, support for the Housing Choice Bill, and Governor Baker’s leading role in championing TCI.

The event spotlighted a panel moderated by Zeninjor Enwemeka of WBUR that included North Shore Coalition Chair and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and three members of the Commission: Rebecca Davis of MAPC, Ken Kimmell of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Eileen McAnneny of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. Panelists discussed the need to invest in public transit infrastructure without overburdening transit riders, the benefits of running pilot programs, and the need to address climate change in all aspects of work. They also discussed the confluence of housing and transportation issues, highlighting the need for more transit-oriented affordable housing.

To conclude the panel, Enwemeka asked each panelist to offer one suggestion for audience members to help build a better transportation future. Rebecca Davis reminded everyone to contact their legislators to support more revenue for transportation (which you can do through MAPC’s call to action). Eileen McAnneny encouraged all to build on the Commission’s recommendations going forward. Ken Kimmell asked attendees to support TCI. Finally, Mayor Driscoll asked everyone to channel their inner Greta Thunberg, and be willing to put in the work needed to take bold action!

If you want to see what all the buzz was about, check out the livestream of the event here:

For more on the future of transportation, check out Commission members recent op-ed in the Globe: “The future of transportation in Boston could be bold — and bright,” by Steve Kadish, Rebecca Davis, Ken Kimmell, and Eileen McAnneny.