What is Transportation?
Transportation is the movement of cargo -- people, animals or material goods
– from one place to another. Modes of transportation in contemporary life include walking, bicycling, cars, buses, trucks, air
craft, freight and passenger trains, subways, ships and boats – all of which depend on well-maintained infrastructure
, from sidewalks to roads, bridges, rail lines, air- and seaports to energy. A single journey can require intermodal or multimodal, forms of transport, each with its own route, emissions, speed, quality and cost.
THE TRANSPORTATION SECTOR IN BOSTON
Greater Boston’s extensive transportation network, with Boston as its “hub,” allows residents, workers and visitors to travel throughout the region by car, bus, rail, air, boat, bicycle and foot, and to link to other regions near and far. Transportation is the backbone of the Greater Boston economy – even in the Information Age – while Boston is known and loved as a walking city.
A 2009 landmark reform bill created the new Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to coordinate the policies and work of formerly separate state agencies: the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works; the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority; the Massachusetts Highway Department; the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission; and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), or ‘T. ” MassDOT also increased its oversight of regional transit authorities and management of the Tobin Bridge.
The MBTA, or “T,” manages the region’s mass transit system, which include eleven commuter rail lines with 125 stations, six rapid transit lines with 150 stations and provides rapid transit and commuter rail service to 175 cities and towns along with an extensive network of local and express busses and a small but important coastal ferry system.
The Massachusetts Port Authority (MassPort) operates Boston’s deep water seaport and Logan International Airport. Greater Boston’s regional transit system links to the federal Amtrak rail system at North and South Stations in Boston.
The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is responsible for conducting federally required metropolitan transportation planning for the Boston metropolitan area, which includes 101 cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts, within a radius of about 20 miles from the City of Boston and encompassing about 1,405 square miles. More than three million people live in the MPO region, and almost two million work there. The MPO, through strong public involvement, develops a vision for the region and then allocates federal and some state transportation funds to roadway, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects in support, taking into account diverse demographic, cultural, environmental, and mobility situations. The MPO also publishes the monthly newsletter TRANSREPORT.
In the City of Boston, all transportation planning and policy work and oversight are carried out by the farsighted Boston Transportation Department, which develops short- and long-term plans for enhancing streetscapes and transportation access, promotes public safety, and manages the city's transportation network.
Boston’s transportation sector includes a range of research and planning institutions, from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and small town planning departments to academic experts in area universities’ departments of planning and policy such MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, BU’s Metropolitan College and Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.
Additional sources of information for transportation research include the: State Transportation Library of Massachusetts; Volpe National Transportation Systems Center Library; US Department of Transportation Library; University of Massachusetts Transportation Center; MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics; Center for Urban Transportation Research; National Transit Institute; Texas Transportation Institute; Transportation Research Board; and the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California, Berkeley.
Advocacy organizations such as the T Riders Union (TRU) and the business-oriented A Better City (ABC) work to make the region’s transportation system safer, more seamless, more efficient and more fiscally sustainable, while groups such as Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) organize young people to advocate for transit access and an environmentally sounds transit system.
Walk Boston, Mass Bike and the Boston Cyclists Union as well as boaters’ advocacy groups seek to enhance multi-modal transit options for health, safety and enjoyment, while organizations such as the Livable Streets Alliance and the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance seek to expand transit-oriented housing for young families and seniors as well as streetscapes that enhance the quality of life for all.