Boston to unveil transportation plan for future
The future of transportation in Boston includes fewer cars on the road, heavy reliance on public transit, and lots of so-called microhubs, one-stop access points where commuters can share a bus, bike, or car.
Those initiatives are detailed in a comprehensive plan that city officials will unveil Tuesday, a transportation blueprint for the next decade that puts heavy emphasis on a growing city population and the various ways residents get around.
The blueprint, called Go Boston 2030 Vision and Action Plan, lists the city’s guiding transportation principles — such as equity, economic opportunity, and climate responsiveness — and its top policies — such as repairs to roads and bridges, restructuring all bus routes, and reducing traffic fatalities and crashes.
Boston has seen its population surge by 30,000 people in the last three years, has added 60,000 jobs, and remains an economic engine for the state, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Monday in remarks about the blueprint. Many residents own cars but don’t always use them, opting for public transit, Walsh said, making reliable public transit vital to the city’s future.
Public transit also helps ease traffic congestion, another important function.
“People are going to make decisions [about coming to Boston] based on the fact that it is impossible to get to Boston because Memorial Drive is backed up, Storrow Drive is backed up, Dorchester Ave. is backed up,” Walsh said.
The city’s vision plan, emerging after two years of planning, includes 58 transportation projects and polices, and the city’s “aspirational goals.” Those include ensuring that a bus stop or rail station is within 10 minutes of every home, or that commute times are reduced by 10 percent.
“Boston is booming, with new housing and new businesses opening up,” Chris Osgood, who oversees the city’s transportation initiatives, said in a statement. The plan provides a framework to better connect residents to “new job centers, allowing people to access them using transportation options that are affordable, efficient, and enjoyable,” he added.
The city began its planning process two years ago by seeking input from residents. The effort included an online survey, paper ballot, and an “ideas campaign” that drew 3,700 suggestions.
Officials used the feedback to draft the action plan that mapped out a series of long-term and immediate projects and policies — on commuting by foot, bike, and car — to be implemented over the next 15 years.
In the city’s vision, faster-moving buses would take commuters from Mattapan to hospital jobs in the Longwood Medical Area. The route would feature some exclusive lanes and routes with high-quality stops, officials said.
Commuters up north would also see improvements, with a new and direct bus service — also using exclusive lanes — to take riders from the South Boston Waterfront to North Station “in tandem with ferry service,’’ the officials added.
There would be better connections between Mattapan and Dorchester on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line. A new Columbia Roadway Greenway would also rise, with “neighborhood-friendly streets” that connect Franklin Park in Dorchester to Joe Moakley Park in South Boston.
Traffic lights would be programmed to ease congestion and microhubs in the neighborhoods would allow riders to select from a range of travel choices, officials said.
Officials said many of the initiatives in the plan are already underway, such as lower speed limits — 25 miles per hour — on many city roads; performance pricing parking meters in the Back Bay and the Seaport district; and the expansion of the Hubway bike-share system to encourage cycling.
Officials said they plan to work with state transportation authorities to implement many of the initiatives. Boston will commit to a five-year plan to jump-start some of the projects. Walsh said the city is also urging developers to contribute to the initiatives by building streets and sidewalks. And developers may be asked to trim the number of parking spots they create.
Walsh said the city’s planning agency has seen many developments that no longer have parking spaces. In parts of South Boston and Brighton, he said, the parking lots at new apartment buildings sit empty. And increasingly more developers are seeking to build near train stations. These are signs on which the city could capitalize, the mayor said.
“We are seeing some benefits there. And we’ve had to make some adjustments with our planning,’’ he said.
The city will also seek to work with various academic institutions to create a mobility lab to track progress in achieving the goals outlined in the plan.