Transportation

Public transportation is a key building block for economic mobility in Massachusetts. Maura will work to ensure our public transportation system is safe, reliable, and accessible throughout the state.

Maura knows that if we are going to create jobs and support businesses in every region of our state, reduce costs that are crushing our families, do something about our climate crisis – then we have to fix our transportation system. That means investing in our public transportation – our subway, trains, ferries, and buses – and fixing our crumbling local roads, bridges, and tunnels. Massachusetts has received an influx of federal funding, and the next Governor will oversee how it is spent. Maura will make sure that no region, no community is ignored. 

There is no functioning state economy without functioning public transportation. Transportation remains the second highest household expense. Our residents and businesses need a public transportation system they can rely on to get them home, school, work, and the doctor’s office safely and on time. For many in our underserved communities, public transit is not an alternative mode of transportation but the only mode of transportation. Drivers need roadways that are free from congestion so they can get to work, rather than sitting in economy-choking congestion. Done well, transportation infrastructure generates jobs, thriving neighborhoods, and environmental progress, supports a healthier community, and can turn more affordable housing regions into practical commuting options. Done wrong, transportation failures strangle economic growth, harm families, worsen inequity, and contribute to climate change. Maura is committed to working with elected officials, community leaders, and the business community to ensure that we do indeed get it right.

Massachusetts has seen both sides of this dichotomy. We had the first rapid transit system in the country – which now means we have the oldest system, most in need of the unglamorous demands of repair and maintenance. We also have, on the country’s oldest public transit line, new cars, extensions and stations, including in Somerville and soon in Medford. In Massachusetts, we have seen economic transformation from smart infrastructure investments: Route 128 and the tech revolution, Logan Airport in the 1950s, the Turnpike Extension and the revival of Boston, the reconfiguring of the Orange Line in lieu of the Southwest Expressway, the extensions of the Red Line south to Quincy and north to Somerville and Alewife, and the Big Dig’s impact on Boston and beyond. These projects taught us some valuable lessons for the future, and also showed us that the economy grows as a result of connectivity. Investments made in transportation have a huge return for the economy–for every dollar spent, the return on investment is four fold. Further, transportation allows us to connect with family, friends, and local businesses. Maura recognizes that now is the time to prioritize transportation to make Massachusetts a destination for those to live and work, where residents can efficiently get to where they want to go through a variety of safe and reliable transportation modes.

MAURA’S RECORD

Maura understands the important role that transportation plays in the economic mobility of Massachusetts families. The cost of maintaining a car, gas, or a monthly pass to ride public transportation eats away at our residents’ budgets, and prices are only going up. That’s why, as our Attorney General, Maura has been a staunch advocate for drivers and riders. Maura has also been aggressive in getting consumers refunds and compensation related to car issues – she’s returned $3.5 million back to our residents through these cases and filed legislation to strengthen protections for car buyers. Her groundbreaking settlement with Volkswagen ensured thousands of Massachusetts residents received up to $10,000, in addition to compensation for their faulty cars, and the state was able to use the settlement funds to invest in electric vehicle infrastructure. She’s not afraid of powerful interests – she’s stood up for Massachusetts’ clean car standards which save drivers hundreds of billions at the pump. During the pandemic, she called out car insurers for overcharging drivers hundreds of millions of dollars, and demanded a change in rates. Maura also believes that accessible and affordable public transportation is essential to our economy and public health. That’s why she defended the expansion of South Coast Rail from legal challenges, called attention to the devastating impacts of air pollution on environmental justice communities, and advocated for expanding rail and bus lines.

PRIORITIZE SAFETY & RELIABILITY ABOVE ALL ELSE

A transportation system that is safe and reliable is non-negotiable. Maura believes that the safety issues that have plagued our transportation system in recent years are unacceptable and will be the first challenge she will take on as Governor. 

The Healey Plan

No transportation initiatives can be addressed without first addressing the safety and reliability of all modes of transportation. Upon taking office, Maura will immediately appoint a Transportation Safety Chief to work across the relevant transportation agencies to conduct a full safety review of our rail and bus operations, and roads and bridges, including for cyclists and pedestrians. This will include an analysis of the root causes of safety failures. Paired with the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) report, the results of this audit will provide a framework and inform her transportation work in her first year in office. Maura will also task the Transportation Safety Chief with increasing accountability and strengthening the mandate of the safety departments in the relevant agencies, including the Department of Public Utilities. This will include establishing key safety standards across departments and corrective action plans should those standards not be met. 

Following the safety audit, Maura will direct the MBTA to establish new clear, quantifiable performance metrics for each mode of transport and will commit to regular public reporting, so that the public has a clear understanding of where our transportation is excelling and where more work needs to be done. This will be especially important during these early months of getting the MBTA back on track. Further, the Healey Administration will prioritize hiring and training safety and essential Operations Control Center personnel in the first six months in office, as well as pursuing steps outlined in the FTA report to protect the safety of MBTA riders. Maura will also prioritize critical maintenance projects that have been unnecessarily delayed in order to ensure the safe operations of our transit system.

Many of the safety and reliability challenges the Commonwealth is experiencing are due to delayed project delivery, including many of the state’s most transformative projects, such as the Charlie Card system update and new Red and Orange Line cars. Maura will order a review of project delivery for all existing projects in the pipeline to spend state and federal dollars more wisely and to determine how the state can deliver projects faster, cheaper, and safer across the Commonwealth. 

More broadly, Maura will direct her Secretary of Transportation to implement standard safety and communication procedures across all transportation departments and agencies so that in the event of a safety or reliability failure, the public is kept safe and informed. 

INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Historical underinvestment in transportation has led to a system that is rife with challenges. It has yielded a system that requires a substantial infusion of dollars to bring existing operations to a stable place and to help propel new transportation projects forward that are sorely needed. We are at the precipice of a special opportunity with an influx of federal dollars, a state surplus, and the public will to give our transportation system the investments it requires and deserves.

The Healey Plan 

The Biden Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides an unprecedented amount of new capital investment for transit, rail, and roadway infrastructure, and a significant impetus for producing electric automobiles to reduce transportation environmental impacts. However, there will be competition for these federal dollars and Massachusetts will need to be thoughtful and aggressive in how it pursues this opportunity.

In order to maximize the potential benefit from the Biden Administration’s program, Maura will create a multi-disciplinary task force whose sole focus will be to pursue the greatest amount of federal funding to help bridge Massachusetts’ current funding needs, as well as jumpstart new capital projects. The task force will include representation from several secretariats, including Administration and Finance, Energy and Environmental Affairs, and Public Safety and Security, as well as the MBTA, MassPort, local municipalities, and the business community, to better coordinate proposals and prioritize projects. The task force will focus on putting together a list of smaller, local projects that are ripe for federal assistance, as well as identifying the larger, transformative projects that require a major infusion of dollars. 

Federal dollars, however, will not be enough to make long-term sustainable investments. Massachusetts’ current funding levels are insufficient and many new proposals, while perhaps part of the solution, are inadequate. The Fair Share Amendment will direct much needed dollars into our public transportation system. Chapter 90, which funds our local roads and bridges, also plays a critical role. The Commonwealth needs sufficient funds to maintain a state of good repair, that has long been absent, while also having the resources to launch new projects. Maura is committed to working with federal partners, legislative leadership, businesses, and local communities to think creatively on how we increase revenue, without relying on passenger fares. In particular, Maura will collaborate with the business community to explore the potential of creative public-private partnerships to improve our transportation system. Maura believes that there is not one specific funding source that will solve the long-term underinvestment in our transportation system. 

Investing in infrastructure is not only about the dollars spent, but also about human capital. Dedicating resources, including time and energy, to the people that make our transportation system possible is absolutely critical. Maura recognizes that severe staffing shortages have contributed to the challenges in the transportation system and will prioritize hiring, training and retaining staff across all levels and disciplines to ensure that our transportation system is well supported. As part of this effort, Maura will make state transportation jobs across agencies more desirable and provide training and professional development opportunities. This is especially critical for allowing entry level workers to upskill for future promotion opportunities and to retain talent. Maura will ensure that there is a clear career pathway, from onboarding through promotion, beginning with a more streamlined hiring process. She will also ensure that state agencies are actively recruiting from across the Commonwealth and across sectors to hire the best and brightest professional transportation employees.

Addressing staffing does not just start with a job application, but much earlier. The Healey Administration will work with high schools, vocational technical schools, and community colleges to create a pipeline for the next generation of transportation workers. This includes building vital skillsets needed to serve as bus and train drivers, as well as engineers and planners.

TRANSFORM GOVERNANCE & CULTURE

Massachusetts’ transportation system is made up of a patchwork of different agencies with a perplexing organizational structure that has led to poor communication, ambiguous ownership of projects, and the absence of a clear and cohesive vision for transportation in the Commonwealth. This lack of clarity has also impacted the broader employee culture – insufficient staffing, long hours, thankless work, and public outrage over safety and service failures have created a demoralized employee base. A “righting of the ship” needs to include both a governance structure overhaul with inspired leadership and a concerted effort to make transportation workers feel valued again. Maura will bring into focus a clear and compelling vision for transportation in the Commonwealth, where there is a clear governance structure and, accordingly, clear ownership of projects and clear accountability for the success of every aspect of the program.

The Healey Plan

The relationship between the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the MBTA and the other regional transit authorities (RTAs) has been fluid over the years with varying degrees of success. Maura believes that previous efforts to consolidate transportation under one secretariat was a step in the right direction. There is value in having rail authorities function as quasi-independent agencies; however, that only works if the responsibilities and governance structure are clear. The recent slate of failures at the MBTA have shown that they are not. We can neither bring our transportation system into a state of good repair, nor can we envision a bolder future for our transportation system, if it is mired in confusion. We need clarity and accountability.

The MBTA’s General Manager (GM) must possess both inspirational leadership and the ability to manage a large, technical transit organization. Maura will appoint an experienced and respected leadership team and create a governance structure at the MBTA to meet the challenges of safety, reliability, accessibility, and affordability. Maura will appoint a GM who can deliver that, while supporting them with two Deputy GMs who can add technical expertise and execution skills, specifically the Deputy GM of Operations and an elevated Deputy GM of Capital Planning. These three leaders will work closely together and collaborate to ensure that the professional know-how is there and influences every decision, while also ensuring that the GM is actively involved and informed in key decision making. Maura will also ensure that there is a formal, clear organizational chart at the MBTA to facilitate better communication and clarify accountability across the agency. 

Maura will also strengthen and clarify the oversight roles of both the MBTA Board and MassDOT to better support the MBTA leadership team. This includes giving the Board more active authority to oversee the GM, better coordinating capital planning between MassDOT and the MBTA, and ensuring that the division of responsibilities between the agencies is crystal clear. While the Fiscal Management and Control Board (FMCB) had an oversized presence in the day to day decision making of the T during a challenging time, the current iteration of the Board requires more authority to be able to intervene and make tough decisions, when necessary. As Governor, Maura has five appointees to the Board and she will prioritize appointing members who have demonstrated experience in transit, safety, organizational management, customer service, and crisis communication. She will empower the Board to partner and collaborate with the GM and the leadership team, and challenge, when appropriate, and intervene if necessary.

Creating a culture that encourages and celebrates communication, creativity, and diversity at all levels is paramount–from the top of the organization with the leadership team all the way down to the customer service employees, bus drivers, and maintenance workers. This applies to fostering communications regarding daily operations, building opportunities to suggest and implement new and creative ideas to make sure the agency and its systems are running efficiently and effectively, and addressing challenges within the work environment so that all employees feel safe and supported. As Governor, Maura will task the Secretary and GM to engage in an internal “listening tour” of the Commonwealth’s transportation workers to determine where there is opportunity to improve internal operations, agency morale, and employee quality of life. Following the listening tour, leadership will release a plan for how to address employee concerns, including quarterly employee engagement sessions, that allow for continued dialogue between leadership and employees on how to improve the culture within our transportation agencies.

CREATE ACCESS & EQUITY FOR ALL

The vision of our Commonwealth as a thriving ecosystem for all can only be realized by achieving equity in access to transit across the state. This includes an honest reflection on whether we are serving historically marginalized communities adequately and a fully expansive view that requires us to look well beyond the borders of Boston. A fully functioning, equitable, statewide transportation system that maximizes the use of all modes of transport is critical to being a first class destination to live and work. 

The Healey Plan

In recognition of the historical injustices in our transportation system, as Governor, Maura will task the transportation agencies to review existing service to historically marginalized and underserved neighborhoods –both in Boston and beyond– and craft a plan to improve and expand service to those neighborhoods. These plans would have an eye to prioritizing future capital projects, including transition of the Fairmount line to a rapid transit system, which serves some of Boston’s densest neighborhoods. Further, Maura commits to implementing low-income fares and unlimited bus transfers, as well as outlining a pathway to fare free buses throughout the Commonwealth. 

Roadways and highways throughout the Commonwealth serve all residents of the Commonwealth in some way. Responsibility for the maintenance of these roads is a patchwork, including MassDOT, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and local municipalities. This has yielded varying levels of quality and inconsistent achievement of state of good repair. The Healey Administration will work with state agencies and local communities to set uniform standards across all roadways, including expectations regarding sidewalks, crosswalks, speed management, accessibility, and more. 

The name “commuter rail” has hindered our ability to maximize the potential for a regional rail system in Massachusetts. By thinking so literally about what these rail lines are used for, presumably rush hour traffic to move people from home to 9-5 hour work and back again, we are squandering an opportunity to build a stronger and more inclusive state economy. Maura will transition the rail system to meet the needs of our workers and our modern economy. She will commit to a fully realized regional rail system by 2040. This will begin with expanding rail service patterns to serve throughout the day instead of just focusing on rush-hour. Technology and the pandemic have changed commuting patterns, and at a minimum we should adjust accordingly. Longterm, however, this also will include fully accessible platforms at all rail stations and high frequency every day, all day, in both directions. The current contract for the commuter rail expires in two years, which provides a new opportunity to think through how the procurement process and the next contract can move the Commonwealth forward on regional rail. 

Regional transit, more broadly, also needs to be expanded to better reflect rider needs. The RTAs provide a major role in economic development across their respective regions by providing mobility across the state. Maura will work with the RTAs to increase bus service frequency, including on weekends. She will also work to ensure that schedules are better coordinated between authorities and with rail, so that riders can have a seamless experience transitioning from one mode to another for first mile/last mile rides. 

There are a number of major capital projects that are worthy of investment and are essential to building a transportation system for the future. Some of those projects are critical for safety, such as the rehabilitation of the Cape Cod bridges; others open new possibilities for growth, such as the Allston Multi-Modal project, the Red-Blue Connector, Northern Tier, Inland Route, the “Environmental Justice Corridor”; and some have the potential to truly transform, none more so that the West-East Rail, which Maura believes should be a priority. To that end, Maura will appoint a West-East Rail Director in MassDOT to be laser-focused on achieving this complex project. Maura is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure these projects go from ideas to reality. 

PUSH TOWARD A GREEN FUTURE

Transportation is responsible for 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts, concentrated largely in communities of color and low-income communities, contributing to respiratory illness and other harms. If we are going to meaningfully address the climate crisis and protect our communities from pollution and a rapidly changing climate, then we need to act swiftly to electrify all modes of transportation. 

The Healey Plan

A Healey Administration will electrify public transportation so that all modes of transportation operate on 100 percent clean power by 2040, starting with school and MBTA buses by 2030. 

Maura commits to 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030 by providing larger rebates for used and low-cost electric vehicles. While the Commonwealth is not currently on this trajectory, the Healey Administration will create a transparent program and tracking mechanisms to achieve this goal. She will end the sale of new passenger cars and light duty trucks powered by gasoline or diesel by 2035. All public fleet purchases will be electric by 2028. Her Administration will prioritize  building electric vehicle charging infrastructure projects to benefit low- and moderate-income households and overburdened communities. She will require utilities to offer discounts for charging at night when electricity demand is low. The Healey Administration will also include bold investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and strong incentives for their adoption, including for heavy duty vehicles. At the same time, Maura will increase pedestrian walkways, and safe, expanded bike lanes throughout our cities and towns. 

The last two years have demonstrated that telework is a viable alternative to the daily commute for many jobs and industries. The Healey Administration will work with employers to reduce car usage through smart telework policies and expand on measures to reduce single occupancy vehicles. These policies are not only good for the environment, but they also reduce commuting times. 

With sound policies, effective implementation and full transparency we can improve mobility and safety throughout the Commonwealth while mitigating against climate threats, improving affordable housing access and creating a stronger economy for all.

Issues

  1. Climate
  2. Criminal Justice Reform
  3. Disability Rights
  4. Economic Development
  5. Education
  6. Health Care and Behavioral Health Care
  7. Housing
  8. Immigration
  9. LGBTQ+ Rights
  10. Reproductive Freedom
  11. Transportation
  12. Voting Rights
  13. Child Tax Credit
  14. MassReconnect