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 "Suggest an Addition"). For questions or assistance, please contact feedback@barrfoundation.org.
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Featured

Transportation in a changing world: Fewer trips, different trips, alone

May 27, 2020

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.  

Climate - Mobility

From Transactional to Transformative: The Case for Equity in Gateway City Transit-Oriented Development

May 1, 2020

We as a society have made choices that have led to deep inequities. Whether intentional or not, these inequities divide places, races, classes, and cultures across the Commonwealth. To bridge these divisions, policymakers, leaders, and practitioners must reframe decisions and actions with equity as an intentional outcome and part of the process. We write this paper to present a framework of how transit-oriented development (TOD) can help cities, specifically Gateway Cities, embed equity into market-based and other policy tools and practices, thereby transforming their regions through equitable growth and development.This report expands on our 2018 recommendations and lays the groundwork for a series of future policy briefs that will explore the issues covered here in more depth. We call for infusing equity into TOD policies and practices for four specific reasons:Over the past 50 years, demographic change has divided people and communities socially and economically in Gateway City metropolitan regions.Gentrification fears have surged in Gateway Cities' weak real estate markets, where increasing property values threaten to destabilize households and neighborhoods, strip cities of their cultural vibrancy, and put vulnerable residents at risk of displacement and homelessness.Local and nationwide histories of socioeconomic exclusion—particularly along racial and cultural lines—persist today. These histories have exacerbated wealth gaps and income inequality and require both acknowledgement and correction.Finally, a false policy dichotomy that supports either large "urban" or small "nonurban" communities ignores the vital role Gateway Cities play as regional hubs for surrounding towns and cities, thus deepening geographic disparities across the Commonwealth.

Climate - Mobility

The Waters Around Us: Public opinion research on Massachusetts residents' views on climate change

January 15, 2020

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.

Climate - Mobility

Voters in largest Northeast, Mid-Atlantic states are open to new policy to reduce transportation emissions

December 1, 2019

Over the course of this year, the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a collaboration between 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic state and the District of Columbia, have been designing a new policy to curb carbon pollution from transportation. Key details are yet to be decided, but in broad strokes, the program would cap the amount of pollution from transportation in the region. Over time, that cap would decrease. Fuel distributors would have to pay for the pollution their fuels produce by buying allowances. The funds generated from the sale of those allowances would be distributed to the states participating in the program to invest in cleaner and better transportation options.As these states finalize the details of the program, new polling finds broad public support for the concept. The MassINC Polling Group conducted simultaneous surveys of registered voters in the seven largest TCI states: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.This report highlights key findings from the polling. Full topline results for the region and each state are appended to this report. Crosstabular results for the region each state surveyed are available online.

Climate - Mobility

Statewide poll: Open track for regional rail proposals

September 1, 2019

The MBTA's Commuter Rail is getting new scrutiny as part of a set of solutions to Eastern Massachusetts' three interrelated problems of transportation, housing costs, and income inequality. At the moment, the far-flung rail system functions more or less as the name suggests: carrying workers in and out of Boston during typical commuting hours. The state is currently conducting a "Rail Vision" study examining new ways of running the service, and a diverse set of proposals have made the rounds of political and policy leadership and advocacy groups.This new survey shows that, if policymakers are serious about remaking commuter rail as part of the solution for those challenges, residents would be willing to get on board. One idea is to remake commuter rail a "regional rail" network, with more frequent and robust service less oriented towards commuting in and out of Boston. Such a network would encourage riders to take the train to more places, at more times, and for more reasons. It could also spur the creation of jobs and economic development beyond Boston, including long-term efforts to revitalize the state's Gateway Cities.

Climate - Mobility

Gridlock: Stopped in Traffic, Delayed on Transit

April 24, 2019

This report shows results of a new poll of Massachusetts registered voters, putting many of these struggles into perspective. The poll was designed and conducted by The MassINC Polling Group with input from a steering committee of policy experts, transportation planners, and businesss leaders. It was sponsored by The Barr Foundation. The results suggest voters, and especially commuters, are feeling the effects of the transportation system's problems in very personal ways. For a large portion of those with the longest commutes, the frustration of being stuck on the roads or transit has led them to consider changing jobs, or leaving the region altogether.

Climate - Mobility

The Promise and Potential of Transformative Transit-Oriented Development in Gateway Cities

April 24, 2018

Gateway Cities can accommodate thousands of new housing units and thousands of new jobs on the vacant and underutilized land surrounding their commuter rail stations. This walkable, mixed-use urban land offers an ideal setting for transit-oriented development (TOD) to take hold.Currently, Gateway City commuter rail stations get minimal ridership from downtown neighborhoods and few developers seek out this land for TOD. But changing economic forces may provide opportunities to funnel future development into transit-connected Gateway Cities, generating more inclusive and economically productive growth, reducing road congestion and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increasing housing supply, conserving open space, and improving quality of life in communities throughout the Commonwealth.With generous support from the Barr Foundation, this groundbreaking MassINC research explores the opportunity for TOD in regional urban centers with varying market contexts and estimates the positive outcomes possible if we realize the development potential for TOD in these cities. The report concludes with a strategy to help Massachusetts capture the promise of Gateway City TOD.

Climate - Mobility

Delays Ahead

February 1, 2018

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.

Climate - Mobility

Green Light? Public Opinion on BRT in Boston

October 14, 2015

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.

Climate - Mobility

Topline Survey Results of 300 Residents of the Silver Line/28 Bus Corridors

September 15, 2015

These results are based on a survey conducted by The MassINC Polling Group of 300 registered voters in zip codes around the routes of the MBTA Silver Line 4 and 5 and the MBTA Route 28 bus. Live telephone interviews were conducted September 9-14, 2015 via both landline and cell phone using conventional registration based sampling procedures. The data were weighted to reflect the demographic and geographic distribution of voters in the sampled zip codes. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 5.6 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

Climate - Mobility

Topline Survey Results of 736 Weekday Riders of the Silver Line and the 28 Bus

September 15, 2015

These results are based on a survey of 736 weekday riders of the Silver Line 4 and 5 between Dudley Station and Downtown Boston and the 28 bus running between Dudley Station and Mattapan Station. The project was conducted by The MassINC Polling Group. The sample comprises 312 Silver Line riders and 424 riders of the 28 bus. An identical questionnaire was conducted on both routes via face-to-face interviews with riders as they waited for the bus at Dudley Station and at other stops along each line. Survey points were selected with probability proportional to size, based on ridership data provided by the MBTA. Silver Line interviews were conducted by Cunningham Test America for The MassINC Polling Group. Interviews along the 28 bus were conducted by community members from Roxbury and Mattapan organized and supervised by Nuestra Comunidad. The data were weighted to reflect known demographics for riders of each route and the weekday ridership of each route relative to the other. The margin of sampling error for this study is 5 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence, including a design effect of 1.39.

Climate - Mobility

Looking for Leadership: Public Opinion in Massachusetts on the Response to Global Warming

March 1, 2015

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.

Climate - Clean Energy; Climate - Mobility

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