Go Boston 2030 seeks public input on city’s transportation future

Photo: Shinya Suzuki

Go Boston 2030, an initiative that aims to redesign the way Bostonians get around the city and through its borders, has released the short list of potential projects and policies that would impact walking, biking, driving and taking public transit in the greater Boston area.

The initiative has continually sought public feedback since its inception in January 2015. Questions about the future of Boston transit from over 5,000 participants laid the framework for the 3,700 project and policy ideas that the public later submitted. The City of Boston pulled the strongest ideas that came up frequently from that pool to create a shortlist, and it now seeks public feedback to winnow the list down to the final projects and policies.

“They became really strong contenders because they address the issues that came out of the vision that was developed by the public,” Go Boston 2030 Project Manager Alice Brown said. “We know that access, safety and reliability matter, and so all of those projects scored very high when we looked at them in terms of how they would serve residents across the city.”

Go Boston 2030 divides the shortlist into four complementary visions of the futures: Go Local, Go Crosstown, Go Regional and Go Tech.

Go Local focuses on short-distance transportation such as biking and buses and aims to ensure that walking and biking are safe, desirable options. Potential projects and policies include pedestrian-first traffic signals, pedestrian and bike-friendly Main Streets and extending the Orange Line to Roslindale Square.

Go Crosstown, however, reexamines how people get across the city and hopes to eliminate the need to go into the center of Boston only to depart from it. This could involve restructuring all bus routes and a Massachusetts Avenue bus rapid-transit system.

Commuters outside Boston’s borders would benefit from the Go Regional vision, which would ease commutes into the city through projects such as an I-90 Newton urban rail or a Readville Yards station.

The Go Tech shortlist includes road lanes with uses that vary depending on the time of day and more mobility hubs like Hubway, the bike-sharing system.

The City of Boston asks the public to give feedback on these futures and their shortlists through a survey. The survey can be found online or in hard copy at libraries, community centers and City Hall.

The survey asks people to choose one of the four futures to prioritize and the three projects or policies from each future they think are the most important. People can then vote on how they’d like Boston’s future roads to operate, with options like exclusive T lanes or protected bike lanes. Those who want to learn more about the four futures can attend a public meeting on June 6.

Go Boston 2030’s guiding principles are creating transportation equity for regions that currently lack access, increasing economic opportunity by connecting people to areas with good jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the use of public transit.

“We’re really sensitive to the pressures and the costs of transportation,” Brown said. “We realize that there are projects that can make a neighborhood both more appealing but also more expensive, so we’re trying to balance those concerns. It’s been a really major focus for us.”

Brown notes that a single-payment platform for everything from the T to taxis would be one of the best ways to ensure equity, as it would allow the city to better support low-income residents economically.

The initiative outlines its goals quantitatively. By 2030 it hopes to cut the number of solo driving trips by half and quadruple the number of bike trips. In terms of increasing equity, Go Boston 2030 seeks to ensure that every Bostonian will be within 10 minutes of a T line or main bus route.

But Stuart Spina, a transit historian who works in urban policy, doubts how effectively Go Boston 2030 will reduce transportation inequities.

“You can have these goals, have some very nice stock images of diverse people riding bikes or taking the train, but it’s the follow-through,” Spina said. “You always hear about the lofty goals, but are you going to do it?”

Go Boston 2030 intends to release its narrowed plan of projects and policies in the fall. Brown explains that the sources of funding will vary based on the selected projects, and the number of chosen projects has not yet been determined.

Brown anticipates the selected projects and policies will benefit the public, given the feedback that the initiative continues to gather.

“We’re looking at moving the data in the right direction—starting to see a decline in crashes, starting to see projects that really do help more people live closer to transit opportunities,” Brown said. “Whether that’s shuttle services or expanding private operators, or working with the T to change routes, helping people live closer to quality transit matters.”

Reena Karasin is a freelance reporter for Spare Change News.

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