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A sharp increase in working from home could also spell huge changes in commuting patterns. Massachusetts residents say they will probably be making fewer trips as the state emerges from coronavirus crisis, but more of those trips will be by themselves, according to a new statewide poll out today. On balance, residents expect to drive or walk more, and use all types of shared or public transportation mode less.In all, 35% of residents say they will ride the MBTA subway less than before, and 33% say the same of the commuter rail. Among the most frequent transit users, 44% say they will ride the subway less, and 45% expect to drive more. Young people and Boston residents are among the groups indicating the biggest increases in driving.
An update to Massachusetts' climate policy is on the agenda. In the past year, the Massachusetts House and Senate along with Governor Charlie Baker have all put forward substantial policy proposals to deal with various aspects of climate change. From Speaker Robert DeLeo's GreenWorks resiliency grants for cities and towns to the Governor's new ambitious goal of driving the commonwealth to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, state government is taking the issue seriously. The Massachusetts State Senate just passed new legislation to go even further, setting new emissions targets, pricing carbon, and encouraging purchases of electric vehicles. These bills come at a time of growing anxiety among residents about climate change, and reports from the scientific community that grow more alarming by the day.These are among the findings of a new survey of 2,318 residents of Massachusetts conducted by The MassINC Polling Group. This work is the latest in a series, dating back to 2011, that defined a culture of climate protection as 1) recognizing global warming as a problem and priority, 2) supporting policy efforts to curb global emissions, and 3) putting a premium on individual efforts to reduce one's own carbon footprint. This survey shows progress towards all three of these. The survey was preceded by a series of focus groups conducted across Massachusetts. This report includes insights and quotes from that qualitative research alongside the quantitative findings throughout.
Fixing the state's transportation system is now consistently rated as a high priority for the state government, on par with perennial top issues like education and the economy.There are a number of forces that account for this shift. The economy is booming, particularly in Greater Boston. Boston itself is growing in population, and in jobs. As the region grows, the transportation system is straining to meet the demand. "Rush hour" seems a quaint misnomer when the roads into and around Boston are clogged all day and often on weekends. The public transportation system, which failed catastrophically in during the winter storms of 2015, is overcrowded and unreliable, with breakdowns and delays on subways and commuter trains seemingly every morning and night. On top of it all, the threat of climate change looms, as seen in the recent winter storm that inundated the Boston waterfront and the Seaport District.With so many day-to-day problems, and uncertainty changes on the horizon, voters are understandably anxious about the future. This new poll sheds light on how voters around Massachusetts view the transportation system, what they want to see done about it, how much to pay for it, and their hopes and fears for the future. Below is our analysis of those findings, which also draw on context from the extensive research we have conducted on transportation issues over the past 5-plus years.
The MassInc Polling Group found little evidence that BRT is seen as an inferior mode by those in the neighborhoods surrounding Boston, which was a key question going into this research. They also found that non-riders are ambivalent more than hostile to BRT in Boston, even after hearing about the tradeoffs that BRT would present to the roads. Furthermore, riders quickly grasped the potential benefits of the BRT features and saw the improvement to the overall transportation experience.BRT in Boston could present an opportunity for mode shifting among non-riders. However, both riders and non-riders are concerned about the tradeoffs associated with BRT. Among non-riders, car-ownership is a key factor in levels of concern.
In 2008, Massachusetts enacted the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), an ambitious plan to reduce the Commonwealth's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. Under the Patrick administration, substantial progress was made toward meeting the interim goal of a 25 percent reduction by 2020. While emissions have fallen across a number of sectors, some experts believe more must be done to hit the 2020 target. And reaching the challenging 2050 goal will demand even more significant action in the near term.To assess public support for the policies required to live up to the state's commitments for greenhouse gas reduction, MassINC conducted a survey of 1,004 Massachusetts residents. Results from the poll show residents support a strong response to global warming. Climate change is not their highest priority, but the public still wants government to respond. Large majorities support a range of possible policy interventions, including some that would require significant public funding and higher monthly energy bills.
In January, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), at the direction of the state legislature, delivered a 10 year plan for the Massachusetts transportation network. Governor Patrick has endorsed the MassDOT plan, and he identified transportation as one of his main priorities during his State of the Commonwealth address and in his budget proposal. The leaders of both the House and Senate have said they intend to take action on transportation, but have signaled that they may consider alternatives to the governor's specific proposal.In preparation for this public debate, MassINC and The MassINC Polling Group (MPG) have conducted a yearlong research project on the opinions of Massachusetts voters regarding the condition of the state's transportation network and options for financing it, both now and in the future. This project included dozens of interviews with transportation experts, nine focus groups across Massachusetts, and two statewide public opinion polls. The research described in this report is intended to inform the participants in the debate and to provide state leaders with timely insight into the opinions of Bay State residents on this critical issue.The research reveals a voting public who recognize the benefits of raising additional revenue for transportation and who are open to several potential revenue ideas. To build support for new revenues, voters are looking for assurances that funds raised for transportation will be spent on transportation specifically, rather than reallocated for other uses. Throughout this research project, providing specifics regarding uses of funds resulted in more support for the ideas we discussed. For example, saying new funds would be used specifically for either roads or specifically for transit boosted support above using funds for general transportation needs (Figure 1).When asked what investments they would prefer, a majority of voters across the state pointed to both roads and transit. This included majorities or pluralities even in regions outside of Boston, where interest in transit investment is often thought to be less intense (Figure 2).
MassINC and the MassINC Polling Group are proud to present The 80 Percent Challenge. This report represents the first in-depth look at how Massachusetts residents perceive the problem posed by global warming, as well as their willingness to embrace efforts to address this unprecedented challenge.Massachusetts has taken bold steps to help solve its share of this worldwide problem. With the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, the state became one of the first in the nation to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting the ambitious 80 percent reduction target codified in this legislation will require support and participation from a broad coalition of residents, business interests, and state leaders.This report will help state leaders inform and educate residents in order to build this broad majority. It provides a barometer for where we are today and a benchmark for measuring future progress.
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