New report urges investment in transit infrastructure as car ridership dips

A recent report by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and Northeastern University shows that people are driving their cars less and opting instead to walk, bike, or use the MBTA. Since 2011, residents in the Boston area have owned fewer cars, driven fewer miles, and MBTA ridership has seen a 10% percent increase. The greater demand for public transit accessibility is reflected in housing trends as well, with at least 54,000 housing units built near public transit between 2000 and 2011. Yet service hours have only increased by 0.15% over the same period. Since 2006, the MBTA has almost doubled fares, but riders continue to report extensive delays and there appears to be limited investment in new equipment.

The report also highlights disparities in cost and utilization across communities. Bus riders who identify as black typically spend over 60 more hours per year in transit than white bus riders. Low-income households also tend to spend more on public transit than other households.

MAPC urges the MBTA to increase investment to address the widening gap in demand and service hours, fund much-needed system improvements and new equipment, and create more equitable services across communities. They highlight that investment will not only improve service but will also help Boston keep pace with other cities’ economic development and progress towards more sustainable transportation systems.

Read the full report.

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