By Jon Keller


BOSTON (CBS) – Seventy-two percent of Boston-area commuters are frustrated, angry and stressed by their trek to and from work, according to a new MassInc poll?

Only 72%?

Every year, it gets worse.

The $20-plus billion (and counting) Big Dig did nothing to reverse the trend, nor have any of the long-overdue regional road-and-bridge repairs (the funding of which were crippled for years by Big Dig spending).

Remember the radio ads the Big Dig peddlers ran in the early 1990s where a fake traffic reporter found no traffic jams to report on?

What a sham.

But the question is, what do we do now?

The poll finds decades of exhortations to carpool, take public transit, or ride bikes to work have had little impact.

Eighty-two percent (!) say they regularly drive alone to work. While that number grows among older folks, even 75% of men and 78% of women aged 18 to 29 make the same choice.

Traffic on the Tobin Bridge April 5, 2019. (WBZ-TV)

So much for the fantasy of persuading younger generations to ditch their cars and hit the bike paths, or even to carpool.

One sign of hope – 41% of all respondents and 51% of men 18-29 say they regularly walk to work, a tribute to the “smart growth” policies begun by Gov. Mitt Romney and continued by his successors of encouraging apartment construction close to transit and commercial hubs.

Still, the vast majority of us live too far from the office to do that, and that’s unlikely to change.

What about ride sharing?

Within that 18-29 demographic, 41% of men and and 32% of women say they regularly grab an Uber or Lyft. It’s unclear how much of that is carpooling, but while planners like to demonize those companies for jamming up traffic and luring people away from the T, maybe they should be looking at the glaring shortfall in rides provided by corporate or private shuttles, used by two-percent or less of all commuters.

Which brings us back to the big-money question looming over local transportation policy discussions for decades – where can we find the dough to make the T and commuter rail attractive enough to stop the hemorrhaging?

Amazingly, the Barr Foundation, which has called for “sustainable revenues” (read: new taxes) to fund better public transit, didn’t have MassInc poll voter interest in paying higher, broad-based taxes.

If this was because they feared a negative result would step on their preferred message, they were probably right. The cost of living around here is already so high, and confidence in the ability of the MBTA and state government to handle taxpayer money wisely is so low, we are still a long way from developing adequate voter support for the user-fees and broad-based taxes that a true transit makeover would require.

But don’t worry. Be happy!

That hassle-free commute promised by the Big Dig sycophants nearly 30 years ago will be arriving any day now.

Jon Keller

Comments (2)
  1. Theodore Oule says:

    Do you drive into work alone every day, Jon?

    Your outrage is so blatantly hypocritical.

  2. Russell Jennison says:

    The price you pay for a successful city with outdated mass transit.