40 Ambitious Ideas to Save Transportation in Boston

Additional reporting by Spencer Buell, Jacqueline Cain, Brittany Jasnoff, and Alyssa Vaughn.

Photo by Michael Prince

Once upon a time, Boston’s transit system was the envy of every metropolis from Chicago to DC: The subway running between Park and Tremont streets, unveiled in 1897, was the first in the United States; 3,500 miles of railroad track, meanwhile, once stretched across the state, connecting the hinterlands to the big city. Flash-forward more than a century, and commuting by car from the exurbs can take upward of two hours, the commuter rail is pretty much never on time, and many of our T cars are so old that the MBTA can’t even order parts anymore.

So how did we get into this mess? Whether you blame disinvestment in public transportation or the region’s ballooning population (or some combination of the two), one thing is certain: The current situation is like a perfect storm, our leaders unable to see a clear path through the gridlock to get us to work on time and back home by dinner without losing our minds.

Months in the making, this special report won’t save us all at once, but it’s filled with the voices of 40 of your colleagues, elected officials, and peers—all with Boston’s unique blend of skepticism and generosity, humor and no-holds-barred honesty. They are transportation experts and traffic reporters, tech visionaries and personal drivers. They are brimming with ideas—some practical, some pie-in-the-sky, and all smart enough to help us take the first step toward a better transportation system for tomorrow.

Photo by Michael Prince

How to Save Transportation in Boston: Cars

From imposing a tax on paid parking facilities to putting an end to distracted driving—Bostonians dish on how to fix the city’s relentless traffic.

Photo by Colm O’Malloy for the Boston Globe via Getty Images

How to Save Transportation in Boston: Buses

According to the experts, Bus Rapid Transit is the only solution.

Photo by Caitlin_W/Getty Images

How to Save Transportation in Boston: Rail

Whether it’s electrifying the rails or boosting the MBTA’s PR strategy, something has to be done to fix the disarray on the T.

Photo by Sanjeri/Getty Images

How to Save Transportation in Boston: Bikes

It’s time to start building bike lanes, sharing helmets, and encouraging commuters to ditch the engine for the pedal.

Photo by Michael Prince

How to Save Transportation in Boston: Big Ideas

Our transportation system is full of big problems in need of even bigger solutions. Here, transportation experts dish their most creative ideas.