In their May 10 op-ed, “A new vision for transportation,” Frederick Salvucci and James Aloisi, former state transportation secretaries, warned that telecommuting could worsen regional and racial inequality. To combat this and accelerate recovery, the Commonwealth should work to strengthen our small cities, home to many of our state’s essential workers and anchor institutions.
First, let’s improve public transportation outside of Boston by expanding bus service and increasing the budget for Regional Transit Authorities. We can make it cheaper and easier for residents to get to jobs by deploying federal stimulus funds to make bus fares free where it is most needed and feasible.
Second, walkability creates thriving downtowns, and local businesses need foot traffic to flourish in an era of online ordering. Infrastructure dollars should be directed to repair sidewalks and intersections, make dedicated bike and bus lanes, and turn parking into outdoor dining and other activities.
Finally, local public-private partnerships are essential to help entrepreneurs of color and small businesses connect to new customers and access financing. The state needs to expand its support for Business Improvement Districts, cultural districts, and placemaking strategies.
These investments in our Gateway Cities would help reduce unemployment and congestion while creating vibrant centers of activity in every region of Massachusetts.
The writer is a consultant with the Transformative Transit-Oriented Development Initiative.