Massachusetts to Triple Non-Car Travel by 2030

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Yesterday, Richard Davey, the state’s transportation secretary, announced an exciting goal: Massachusetts will triple the amount of travel by public transit, biking, and walking by 2030. Getting more people out of their cars will help to improve the health of Massachusetts residents, not to mention reducing the traffic choking our roads and highways. “We all have a stake in achieving a statewide mode shift goal and establishing a sustainable transportation system that meets all our customers’ needs and that we can afford to maintain,” Davey said.

The problem, unfortunately, is that MassDOT was unable to quantify what a tripling of non-car travel would look like. As the Globe noted:

“Officials said they want to triple the number of trips taken by transit, bike, or foot. They could not imme­diately provide an estimate of the present number of such trips.”

Really, MassDOT? You hold a press conference to announce the tripling of the number of trips by 2030, but can’t tell us what that number currently is? Can you imagine Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase proclaiming that he was going to triple the bank’s profits in the next year, but couldn’t tell you what their current profits are? Or Doc Rivers telling you he was going to triple the Celtics’ steals, but having no idea how many they had last season?

Here, let me give you a hand: According to Census data on commuters in Massachusetts, 72.2 percent of workers drove alone, 8.2 percent carpooled, 8.9 percent took public transportation, 4.6 percent walked, 1.6 percent used other means, and 4.5 percent of people worked at home. Commuting seems like a logical place to start—it’s better than starting with nothing, right?—and perhaps, if MassDOT doesn’t have any better data, they can project the numbers for evening/weekend/leisure travel.

So, 15.1 percent of Massachusetts commuters currently go by transit, walking, or other. If you want to triple that number, we’d be up to 45.3 percent of commuters taking transit/walking/other in less than 20 years, which would be a pretty stunning increase. I’m all for it, but good luck, MassDOT.