Barr Foundation Knowledge Center

This collection includes publications and resources from our partners and in our program areas, both current and legacy. These resources are completely free to access and download. Most of these works were funded by the Barr Foundation. We may occasionally feature items relevant to our program areas which were not funded by Barr. Please be aware that views expressed are not necessarily those of the Barr Foundation. We encourage you to search our collection and suggest potential content to include (use "content recommendations"). For questions or assistance, please contact learning@barrfoundation.org.
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Featured

Baseline Findings from the Racial Equity Organizational Self-Assessments of Barr Foundation Climate Program Grantees

September 30, 2022

In 2021, the Barr Climate Program partnered with Community Centered Evaluation and Research (Community CER) to design and implement a Racial Equity Organizational Self-Assessment. The goals of the self-assessment were to provide Climate grantees with an organizational profile that allowed them to review their organization's progress in adopting and implementing racial equity practices and to help the Climate Program better understand organizations' efforts and how to target resources. This report is a summary of the findings of the Climate grantees as a group. The appendix includes the full survey used in the self-assessment.Access the full report by clicking the cover below

Climate - Clean Energy; Climate - Mobility; Climate - Resilience
Featured

Tools for Equitable Mobility

December 15, 2021

This guide is meant to advance equity in the transportation field. Across the nation, there is growing recognition that transportation policies and investments have harmed, and been used as tools to marginalize, Black and brown neighborhoods, people with disabilities, and other groups. Initiated and funded by the Barr Foundation, this guide seeks to help public agencies, and the advocates and organizers who influence them, to make decisions that advance transportation equity.This guide reviews six of the nation's leading tools for assessing potential equity impacts of new transportation policy decisions, explains the context and preconditions for the effective use of these tools, and suggests complementary activities. People who work at transportation public agencies at all levels are the primary audiences for this tool, as they have the power and responsibility to change their behavior; advocates, organizers, and community groups can also use this guide to encourage their public agency partners to use the tools profiled here.

Featured

Get it Rolling: A brief guide to mobilize bus improvements in Greater Boston

June 21, 2021

This guide lays out a recipe to help local staff members, leaders, and advocates identify the right ingredients to launch successful bus improvements in high ridership, high delay corridors in their communities. These projects can seem daunting in their complexity, but they are important tools in achieving climate, equity, and transit goals, as well as improving quality of life for the thousands of people in our region.The guide identifies crucial stakeholders and project milestones. It offers examples of successful strategies, and it distills lessons learned. We identified six bus priority projects that started turning the wheels of change in the region. These projects were the first to involve quick, temporary, and easy to change elements in order to influence the permanent design.The information this guide sets forth was drawn from over thirty in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved in the six different projects we identify below:Everett's inbound bus lane on BroadwayBoston's inbound bus lane on Washington Street in RoslindaleArlington's inbound bus lane on Massachusetts AvenueCambridge and Watertown's inbound bus lane on Mount Auburn StreetBoston's inbound bus lane on Brighton Avenue in BrightonSomerville's inbound and outbound bus lanes on BroadwayThese six projects are described in detail in the individual case studies found after the workbook. You'll find examples from these projects throughout this guide that illustrate the different strategies municipal staff and their partners have used to accomplish progressive bus improvements.Every project's recipe will be different, and will require different ingredients, as well as different amounts of each. The projects showcased in this guide may not be directly applicable to your community, but they offer a framework for considering strategies to improve bus transit. With the ingredients presented in this document, we encourage you to innovate and experiment. Not all will apply to your situation, and not all will follow the same order as we have them listed here. This guide is not prescriptive, but instead offers direction based on the experience of people involved in the six local bus improvement projects that were studied.

Climate - Mobility

Divided by Design

July 31, 2023

Low-income communities and communities of color have been and continue to be disproportionately harmed by our approach to transportation in the United States. This damage has come in many forms, but most egregiously through the manner in which the U.S. constructed of the Interstate Highway System. A growing understanding of this reality helped lead to the creation of new provisions and programs aimed at undoing some of this damage in the November 2021 infrastructure bill. But these steps were modest and policy interventions continue to focus largely on past harms or small, insufficient reforms, ultimately failing to grapple with the reality that the fundamental approach of our current transportation program creates and exacerbates inequities.Past decisions, including routing the Interstate Highway System through communities of color, dividing and often demolishing them in the process, still shape our built environment. And most importantly, the foundation of the modern transportation program was built on models, measures and standards that have their roots in this era. Without a fundamental change to the overall approach to transportation, today's leaders and transportation professionals, no matter their intent, will perpetuate and exacerbate the damage.

Climate - Mobility

Resurging Regional Ridership: An analysis of mobility flows, riders, and ridership in the WRTA region

April 21, 2023

This report is the second in the Worcester Regional Research Bureau's 2023 analysis of the WRTA and fare-free service, beginning with All Aboard: Financing a Fare-Free WRTA. To gain a comprehensive perspective of the WRTA, this analysis focuses not only on the profiles of the WRTA's riders and its ridership recovery, but also on regional mobility, key to understanding the context within which the WRTA's riders choose to use its service. This report ultimately finds that the WRTA experienced rapid ridership monthly-recovery since March 2020, and by December 2022 it exceeded pre-pandemic levels; in FY23, the WRTA is projected to have a total of 3,913,772 total UPT across all modes, the highest since its historic peak in 2016. Fare-free service undoubtedly played a role in that recovery.

Climate - Mobility

Poll: More than three-quarters of Massachusetts residents support boosting funding for regional bus service

April 18, 2023

Results of a survey of 1401 Massachusetts residents, including 967 living in communities served by the state's 15 Regional Transit Authorities. The survey found majority support for increased funding for the RTAs. It also asked riders and non-riders about barriers to bus ridership and what factors would make the biggest differences in getting them to ride. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the Regional Transit Authority Advocates Coalition and was sponsored by the Barr Foundation.

All Aboard: Financing a Fare-Free WRTA

March 10, 2023

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority Advisory Board has suspended fares at the agency since March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent emergency. It has been extended several times, and the latest extension is set to end at the end of June 2023 unless the Advisory Board adopts a budget that will extend fare-free for a longer period of time. The Worcester Regional Research Bureau previously released two reports: In May 2019, The Implications of a Fare-Free WRTA and in November 2020, Bureau Brief—Addendum to "The Implications of a Fare-Free WRTA." Both reports analyses found a strong argument in favor of a fare-free program at the WRTA. This report on finances serves as an update to those reports after three years of fare-free service.The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is consistently the largest source of revenues used for operating expenses, followed by, in FY22, the Federal Government, and then WRTA member community assessments.According to a 2018 survey of riders, 65% of riders had an income of less than $24,999.Collecting fares, whether fixed or variable, will entail costs of its own that may mitigate the revenues collected by restarting fares.A thought experiment of what different fare collection revenues could look like, including the possibility of discounting fares by income.The Massachusetts' Legislature and the new gubernatorial administration have expressed interest in increasing transportation funding across the state. Moreover, the Regional Transit Authority Caucus in the legislature has begun to put forward bills to raise statewide RTA funding to $150 million a year, nearly $55 million more than funding for FY23. Governor Healey's initial FY24 budget includes $96.8 million for RTAs, in addition to $6 million for operating expenses from a new $25 million grant.The Federal Government will be increasing its transportation funding until 2026.The WRTA experienced a rapid ridership recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and FY23 ridership is expected to increase. While this report reviews WRTA finances relative to sustaining a fare-free policy, please look forward to a forthcoming report on WRTA ridership from The Research Bureau. It is evident that a fare-free policy at the WRTA has had significant impact, particularly on ridership.

Measuring Quick and Creative Street Projects: An evaluation toolkit for practitioners and partners

February 1, 2023

Cities and towns across Massachusetts are implementing innovations on their streets. Quick and creative projects that prioritize people are having big impacts.These changes are mostly simple: making space for chairs and tables for neighbors to sit and chat, slowing down traffic via cones so kids can play and bike to school, and painting bus lanes for people to travel faster.This toolkit provides practitioners and partners with guidance on carrying forward the important work of measuring projects using low-cost and repeatable evaluation methods. The report includes links to sample templates and surveys to support these efforts.

Climate - Mobility

Massachusetts Poll: 78% of voters view transportation system in only ‘fair or poor’ condition; 59% support future MBTA shutdowns to expedite improvements

October 20, 2022

Survey of 987 Massachusetts likely voters in the November general election. Findings included the Governor's race, Ballot Questions #1 and #4, views of the condition of the transportation system, and support for the gubernatorial candidates' transportation agendas.

Changes in Traffic Patterns and Air Quality Along Mystic Avenue in Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts, After Installation of an Intermittent Bus Lane

August 10, 2022

The City of Medford, MA, (pop. 60,000) and the City of Somerville (pop. 76,000) immediately to the south are home to several major roadways including Interstate 93 and Massachusetts State Highways 28 and 38. These are among the busiest roadways in the Boston metropolitan area, together carrying over 240,000 vehicles per day through the two cities (Boston MPO, 2022). In an effort to increase bus efficiency, reduce traffic burden, and improve air quality in their communities, Medford and Somerville tested a bus lane with intermittent prioritization on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) bus route #95, which runs along Route 38 (Mystic Avenue) within the two cities.The goal of this study was to determine whether the bus lane on Mystic Avenue caused short term (months) changes in traffic patterns and improved air quality along the length of the bus lane.

Climate - Mobility

Quick and Creative Street Projects: Measuring Impact in Mass

December 10, 2021

Cities and towns across Massachusetts are implementing innovations on their streets. Quick and creative projects that prioritize people are having big impacts.These changes are mostly simple: making space for chairs and tables for neighbors to sit and chat, slowing down traffic via cones so kids can play and bike to school, and painting bus lanes for essential workers to travel faster.This report presents examples and impact data from 23 municipalities over the course of 2020 and 2021 to show that simple changes have big impacts.A complementary evaluation toolkit providing details on the evaluation methods used can be found by searching Barr's Knowledge Center using the title "Measuring Quick and Creative Street Projects: An evaluation toolkit for practitioners and partners". It includes sample templates and surveys for your use.

Climate - Mobility

Riding Toward Opportunities: Communities Need Better MBTA Service to Access Jobs

December 1, 2021

*For Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese translations of the executive summary please click 'Download' > 'via Publisher' to visit Conservation Law Foundation's website*This report documents the access to jobs provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Eastern Massachusetts and how chronic delays reduce that access. It also shows that delays disproportionately undercut economic opportunity for communities of color, low-income communities, and limited English proficient residents compared to white, wealthier, and English-speaking populations.As the MBTA plans to adjust service on buses, trains, and ferries following winter and spring 2021 service cuts and plans to address anticipated budget shortfalls for future fiscal years, access to jobs could be undermined even more. This will have the greatest impact on those riders already hardest hit by delays.

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