fb-pixel Skip to main content
Starts & Stops

Boston commuters love to walk to work

Lenox Hotel employees went on a short walk in 2012.JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF/File

It’s no secret that Boston is a walkable city.

But a recent study shows that a number of Boston residents end up walking for business, not just pleasure: The city has the highest rate of commuters who walk to work, out of 30 of the biggest cities in America.

Michael Sivak, a researcher at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, gathered data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to give an overview of commuting in America.

With 14.5 percent of Bostonians reporting a nice, brisk walk as the main way they get to work, Boston beat out New York by nearly an entire percentage point.


Related: 14 ways to make walking a part of your daily routine

There’s no organization more excited to hear such numbers than WalkBoston, an advocacy group for pedestrians. Wendy Landman, the group’s executive director, applauded the news, even if she wasn’t the least bit surprised.

“There’s a lot of energy and excitement in the city for really building on the fact that we’re a walkable city and how to make it better,” she said.

Landman said a couple of factors explain the high share of walking commuters: If you haven’t noticed, Boston is a fairly compact city. She also said more housing has popped up downtown in recent years, allowing those residents to be in walking distance to their workplaces.

Sivak’s study had some other interesting pieces of data: The mean commute time for Bostonians is about 29.5 minutes.

According to the data, that’s one of the longer commute times in the 30 cities: Boston ranked 23rd in the shortest commute times, coming in ahead of cities like Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

But wait, there’s more!

Governor Charlie Baker scored a legislative victory on Thursday night when the Senate backed his proposal for a new oversight board for the T.


But the Beacon Hill debate over how to fix the embattled agency is far from over.

Several aspects of Baker’s legislation remain unresolved, and still face signifcant pushback from the T’s unions.

Under current law, the T can only use contractors, instead of union members, to perform certain services if officials can prove to the state auditor that it can save money. In his legislation, Baker proposes a suspension of the law for the T because he believes it hinders the agency from seeking out more efficient and cost-effective alternatives.

On Friday, Baker said he didn’t want to get into “hypotheticals” about which pieces of legislation would garner support from the Legislature.

“The fiscal and management control board went through about seven different iterations before the one that ultimately came through from the final process,” he said.

During that process, senators also rejected a number of parts of Baker’s plan.

Under current law, the T is not allowed to raise its fares more than five percent in two years. Baker’s legislation proposed lifting that cap, but senators successfully rallied against that measure in their budget.

The debate continues on Wednesday, when the Legislature’s Joint Transportation committee holds its second public hearing on the governor’s bill. The hearing will go from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday at Tufts University’s Cohen Auditorium, 40 Talbot Ave. on the Medford/Somerville campus.

CapeFlyer, weekend commuter boats return

The warm weather is here, and so are the monstrous traffic jams to and from Cape Cod.


That’s why the CapeFlyer, the train service that runs between Boston and the Cape, is back for its third year. Service started on Friday and will continue on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Labor Day.

This year, the service is offering a new Friday night train that will make fewer stops on its way from South Station to the Cape. The train leaves South Station at 5:50 p.m. and gets to Hyannis at about 8:15 p.m.

There’s also good news for Brockton vacationers: Starting this year, the trains are now making stops in that city.

Tom Cahir, the administrator of the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, said he’s expecting another year of steady ridership. Last year, the service provided about 13,000 rides.

“I’m amazed at the genuine enthusiasm for people getting off this train,” he said. “There hasn’t been a real passenger service on the Cape for a long, long time, so it is unique, and we really work hard to try to make the experience a good one for everybody.”

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has also brought back its weekend commuter boat service between Hingham, Hull, Georges Island, Grape Island and Boston.

Like the CapeFlyer, the weekend service started this weekend and will continue through Labor Day weekend.

The boats will depart hourly from Hingham, starting at 8 a.m., and from Boston, starting at 9 a.m.

Nicole Dungca can be reached at nicole.dungca@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ndungca.