• About the Project
  • Indicators: what we track
    What is Civic Vitality?
    Civic vitality reflects a community’s connectedness and bonds of trust, or social capital, created through neighborliness, friendship, kinship, civil discourse and collaboration. These are strengthened by places to gather, open access to information, opportunities for civic and electoral engagement, effective leadership and philanthropic giving -- although these same assets can be used to exclude outsiders.


    What is Cultural Life & the Arts?
    The Cultural Life & the Arts sector reflect a community’s cultural vibrancy –it includes all of its diverse ethnic traditions and festivals, opportunities for art and music making and enjoyment, venues for the performing and visual arts, architectural heritage, museums and public art.


    What is the Economy?
    An economy is the sum total of an area’s production, distribution, consumption and exchange of goods and services resulting from investments of labor and financial capital in the use of that area’s natural, human and technological resources.  


    What is Education?
    Education is the process by which skills, knowledge and values are transmitted from teacher to student while, at the same time, each student’s potential to think and act logically, creatively and critically is being developed.  


    What is Environment & Energy?
    The environment encompasses an area’s natural resources – land, air, fresh and marine water, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and the commercial and recreational uses they support – and their intersection with energy sources for and emissions from transportation, commerce, industry and home heating and cooling systems, along with the local effects of global climate change.


    What is Health?
    For an individual, health is physical and mental freedom from acute illness, chronic disease and injury reflecting a good diet, adequate exercise, environmental and behavioral safety and genetic good luck. Individual health outcomes are greatly affected by socio-economic and community-level factors such as access to affordable healthy food, opportunities for exercise, recreation, supportive relationships, degree of exposure to environmental toxins and unsafe conditions, and the quality of one’s education and housing.


    What is Housing?
    Housing meets the basic human need for shelter; for most households it is a major expense or investment that can lead to economic security or insecurity. Housing is also a fundamental building block of livable, vibrant communities and, when blighted it is a source of community destabilization.


    What is Public Safety?
    Public safety is the peace of mind that results from the effective prevention of and/or response to events that endanger or threaten both individuals and the general public with physical, emotional or financial harm. Public safety encompasses both violent and non-violent crime, from domestic and street violence to cyber-security and white-collar crime.
    What is Technology?
    Technology is the development and use of tools, methods and skills to achieve a goal. From arrowheads and the control of fire to ploughs, wheels, engines and computer chips, new technologies change our relationship to the natural world and to the ways in which we live, work, connect and create. 


    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, aircraft, freight and passenger trains, subways, ships and boats.


    Crosscut Topics
    Boston Neighborhoods
    Boston is a city of neighborhoods – some, like Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, are as large as some of Massachusetts’ bigger cities, while others, such as Charlestown, are town-sized. Within each of Boston’s sixteen neighborhoods, designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority as Boston’s official planning districts, are micro-communities, each with its’ own unique characteristics, populations, assets, and challenges.  
    Children & Youth

    Children mirror a community’s values, progress and challenges. If a community’s children are thriving, it is likely that the whole community is doing well. The Boston Indicators Project tracks progress through 2030—Boston’s 400th Anniversary - when many of today’s children and youth will be civic, political and business leaders and their children will be in school.

    Competitive Edge

    The Greater Boston region has a long history as a birthplace of revolution and innovation and is packed with firsts - the nation’s first public park and public library, breakthroughs in medicine and “green” building.  With a newly revitalized waterfront and some of the nation’s - and the world’s - top colleges and universities, the region - with Boston at its core - attracts students from around the world and top-tier talent in all fields to its dynamic  and diversified knowledge economy.

    Fiscal Health
    This cross-cut filter measures fiscal health in several ways: by tracking municipal, state and federal funding as well as levels of philanthropic giving to the nonprofit sector.  In a high-cost city such as Boston, the financial health of individuals and families is another important measure of the fiscal stability and health of the region.
    Race & Ethnicity
    Issues of race and ethnicity - in Boston and elsewhere - generally emerge on two fronts: one is the cultural richness that racial and ethnic diversity contribute to a city and region; the other is persistent disparities in education, health and economic status.  People of color have often faced inequitably high hurdles to educational and economic advancement.
    Sustainable Development

    Sustainable development refers to patterns of growth that integrate environmental and human health, economic dynamism, and social cohesion and equity.  Sustainable development is multi-dimensional by definition: biodiversity health; the availability of jobs at a living age; regional and per capita carbon dioxide emissions; the availability of fresh water and open spaces; etc.  All of these factors increase the quality of life.

    View the Entire Framework
    Complete Framework

    The Boston Indicators Project’s comprehensive Framework of indicators and measures reflects an intensive, participatory selection process that included hundreds of Bostonians and reviewed by thousands more. Beginning with positive goals for the future, these data-rich indicators and measures provide an objective way to assess current conditions, trends over time and patterns of relationships, as well as outcomes for specific groups, neighborhoods, the City of Boston and the Metro Boston region.  The Complete Project Framework can also be re-sorted into crosscutting topics and civic agenda goals.

    View the Complete Framework of Indicators

  • Reports: in-depth analysis
    City of Ideas: Reinventing Boston's Innovation Economy

    The 2012 Boston Indicators Report shows that standard top-level economic indicators don't tell us everything we need to know about the state of jobs and equity in our local and regional economy. We need to reinvent Boston's innovation economy through greater opportunity and shared prosperity.

    Read Our Past Publications Chronicling Boston from 2000-2009

    The Boston Indicators Project produces biennial reports chronicling Boston's accomplishments and the full array of challenges facing the city and region.  These reports build on expert and stakeholder convenings, data analysis, and reviews of recent research. Over the years, they have helped to catalyze an on-going set of conversations throughout the community about our region's economic competitiveness and the key challenges facing Boston.

    The Measure of Poverty: A Boston Indicators Project 2011 Special Report

    The Measure of Poverty was released in September 2011.  Findings show that the rates of poverty in Boston changed very little over the last twenty years, but is more deeply concentrated in single-parent families in particular neighborhoods. State and local budget cuts due to the recession may have long-term consequences in mitigating the effects of poverty.  The Boston Indicators Project released another special report in 2008, Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card, which provided a comprehensive view of the entire arc of Boston’s system of educational opportunities and outcomes, with an update in 2011.

  • Snapshots & Briefs: quick reviews
    Neighborhoods & Planning Districts

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. For facts and figures about Boston Neighborhoods see the Boston Neighborhood Topic Crosscut Page.

    City of Boston

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    Metro Boston Region
    The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) region includes 101 cities and towns. Learn about the region.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about the MAPC region.

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about Massachusetts.

  • Tools & Resources: find what you need
    Learn more about a topic or do your own analysis through access to research, reports, data and analytical tools.

    Explore our digital library, which archives research reports, journal articles, newspaper clippings, blog posts, media coverage, and more about Boston, the region, nation and world.  Search all by using our sector and crosscut topics as filters.
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.

    What are the best ways to solve the pressing challenges of our city, region, country and planet?  The Hub of Innovation profiles a set of breakthrough solutions from the region, nation and world.

    Nominate a breakthrough!

  • Shape of the City: Boston's future
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.
    Greater Boston's Emerging Civic Agenda, created by hundreds of experts, policy makers and community stakeholders over ten years, offers as set of coherent data-driven strategies to move the region forward.  It is organized in four areas, with goals and measurable milestones.
    A Lifetime of Opportunity
    Organized into six buckets, the Opportunity Index tracks key indicators of mobility across a lifetime.  Developed to initiate and inform conversations on inequality, this tool will evolve along with conversations on economic and social disparities.
Goals & Indicators:
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Transportation that Enhances National & Global Competitiveness
  • Logan Airport Flight Traffic
  • Logan Airport Passenger Traffic
  • Logan Airport Shipping Traffic

Boston’s Logan International Airport remained the nation’s 19th busiest airport in 2010, according to the most recent data from the Federal Aviation Administration.  According to MassPort, more than 28.9 million passengers flew through Logan in 2011, the highest number since 2007.  The total number of domestic travelers flying through Logan increased by 5% from 23.6 million in 2010 to 24.8 million in 2011.  International passenger count increased by 7.6% from 3.6 million in 2010 to 3.9 million in 2011.  Air cargo and mail declined by 3% from 2010 to 2011 driven by large declines in International mail and cargo shipping.

The port of Boston ranked 33 among all North American ports in 2011 in total container traffic with 192,705 tanker containers processed, up from 168,285 in 2010.  The port of Boston ranked 6th in volume growth among all North American ports.  

Traffic Patterns and Travel Options by Large Metro Areas
  • Vehicle Miles Traveled
In 2010, Metro Boston ranked 4th among 101 metros in total vehicle miles traveled—more than 75 million miles per day--according to the Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Study.  Commuters in Metro Boston spent an excess of of 117 million hours in delayed traffic in 2010, or 47 hours per auto commuter, down from more than 142 million total and 57 per commuter in 2005.  In 2010 Metro Boston ranked 6th in annual public transit with nearly 1.8 billion passenger miles traveled.
Household Income Spent on Transportation, Metro Boston
  • Combined Housing and Transportation Costs, Metro Boston
Metro Boston had the 6th lowest overall transportation costs among the largest US metro’s, averaging $12,394 per household from 2005-2009.  However, among the 18 metro regions included in the Consumer Expenditure Survey, Boston ranked 5th in transit cost burden with transportation costs accounting for more than 14% of all expenses in 2010.  
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Metro Boston's Transit Nodes
  • Metro Boston's Transit Routes
Greater Boston's public transit system—the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA)—provides a variety of options for getting around the region, including:

  • Three rapid transit lines, the Blue, Red and Orange Lines, with a total of 38 miles of track and 58 stations
  • The Green Line’s four light-rail streetcar lines, operating over 25 miles of track with 57 surface stops and 13 stops at subway or elevated stations;
  • The Silver Line bus rapid transit line with service from Dudley Square to downtown and from South Station to the South Boston Waterfront and Logan Airport;
  • A commuter rail network of 11 rail lines operating on 375 route-miles with 125 stations reaching into 175 communities;
  • Some 159 local and express bus routes, five streetcar routes and four trackless trolley routes, both bus routes extending to Route 128 and beyond;
  • Paratransit service such as ‘The Ride’ for seniors and people with physical disabilities; and
  • A water transportation system providing service from Hingham, Hull, and Quincy to Boston’s Inner Harbor and between several Inner Harbor docks, including Logan Airport, Charlestown Navy Yard, Rowe’s Wharf, and Long Wharf.
Distribution of Daily Trips
  • Vehicle Miles Traveled per Household, Metro Boston

There is a strong relationship between annual vehicle miles traveled per household and the availability of other transportation options.  Greater Boston cities and towns with the lowest vehicle miles traveled rates, less than 4,000 per year, are also those with access to the commuter rail.  Some of these cities and towns are in the inner core with multiple modes of travel available, but this also holds true for municipalities outside of the 495 belt.
Trends in Mass Transit Use
  • Percent of Commuters Who Use Public Transit
  • MBTA Station Boardings
  • Percent of Commuters withing 1/2 Mile of T Station
The MBTA is the nation's 5th largest transit system in ridership and as of August 2012 an more than 1.25 million trips were taken using the T on an average weekday. According to recent research by the Urban Land Institute and the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, over the last two decades MBTA ridership has risen at an annual rate of 1.2%. Stations with the largest volume of boardings are South Station with more than 22,000, Harvard Station with more than 20,000 and Park Street with more than 19,000 boardings according to 2008 data.
Road Quality
  • Mass Highway Road Quality
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Access to Healthy Transit Options
  • Percent of Commuters Who Bike to Work
  • Percent of Commuters Who Walk to Work
  • Access to Bike Paths

Boston ranks as the number one biking and walking city in the percent who bike (1.5%) and walk (13.9%) to work and have the lowest fatality rates for cyclists (1 per 10,000 daily cyclists) and pedestrians (0.9 per 10,000 daily).  However, large portions of Roxbury, Dorchester and South Boston have fewer designated pedestrian walkways and bike paths as compared to the rest of the city.  In 2011, Boston released the New Balance Hubway bike sharing system, which logged more than 140,000 rides among 3,700 annual members and nearly 30,000 casual riders.  Expansion is planned for Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Charlestown and Dorchester.

Children Who Can Walk to School
  • Number of Children within a School Walk Zone

As of school year 2011-12, 24,907 or 44% of students enrolled in a Boston Public School lived within the designated walk zone.  Schools in East Boston had the highest concentration of students who walked to school: O'Donnell Elementary (91.5%), McKay K-8 (90%) and Otis Elementary (89.5%).  Schools with the lowest concentration of children in the walk zone were citywide high schools and 16 schools enrolled no students who lived within the walk zone including the three exam schools, the Hernandez K-8, the Timilty Middle School and a number of specialized schools.

Access to MBTA Stations
  • 1033aPop
  • 1033bHouse
Mode of Transit and Travel Time to Work
  • Percent of Workers with a Commute Less Than 15 Minutes
  • Percent of Workers with a Commute 15 to 30 Minutes Long
  • Percent of Workers with a Commute 60 to 90 Minutes Long
  • Percent of Workers with a Commute Longer Than 90 Minutes
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Car Ownership and Vehicle Miles Traveled, Boston and Metro Boston
  • Percent of Households with No Car
  • Car Ownership
  • Car Ownership per Household

Use of Low Emission Vehicles
  • Total Hybrid and Alternative Fuel Vehicles Registered
  • Hybrid and Alternative Fuel Vehicles Registered per 1,000

As of 2010 there were 71,106 alternative fuel, hybrid or electric vehicles registered in Massachusetts, with 4,855 registered within the city of Boston--the most in the state--followed by 1,739 in Newton, 1,584 in Cheshire, 1,414 in Canton and 1,027 in Worcester.    

Municipalities with the highest concentration of AFV's were Cheshire and Clarksburg--smaller communities in Western MA--with 45 per every 1,000 cars registered.  Within greater Boston, the highest concentrations were in Lincoln with 30 per 1,000, Westford with 26.7 per 1,000 and Lexington with 25.8 AFV's per 1,000 cars registered.  In Boston there were 7.9 AFV’s per 1,000 cars.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Vehicular Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Transportation Funding by Mode
  • MBTA Revenues and Expenses
  • MassDOT Revenues and Expenses

Federal Funding: MassDOT received $648 million in federal funding in FY12 with $350 million going to stat e bridge, road and highway projects and $139 million allocated for regional Metropolitan Planning organizations.  In FY12 the Boston MPO received $64 million.  Massachusetts received $292 million in federal funding for transit, with $244 million going to the MBTA. 

State Funding: Massachusetts General Appropriations Act allocated $1.14 billion in total transportation funding in FY12, a 23% inflation-adjusted decline since FY01 and a 12% decline since the last funding peak of $1.23 billion in FY10.  According to the Transportation Finance Commission report, Massachusetts faces a $15 to $19 billion transportation deficit over the next 20 years.

MassDOT: FY12 revenues from the Commonwealth Transportation Trust Fund and the Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund were about $2 billion combined, of which about half went to debt service payments.

Commonwealth Transportation Trust Fund was nearly $1.5 billion in FY12, funded with $660 million in gas tax revenues, $500 million in Registry fees, $302 million from the sales tax and $3 million in additional revenues.  In FY12 the CTTF provided $160 million to the MBTA and $15 million to Regional Transit Authorities.

Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund was $680 million in FY12, including $320 million from the CTTF, $350 million in Mass Turnpike and Tobin Bridge revenues and $10 million in other revenue.  The MTTF provided $360 million to the Mass Turnpike and Tobin Bridge as well as $151 for the MassDOT Operating Budget.

Unfunded Capital Projects: MassDOT has about $5.3 billion worth of capital project needs for paving, system maintenance, bridges and pedestrian infrastructure of which about $3.1 billion—57%--remains unfunded.

MBTA: As of FY13, the T faces a $161 million budget deficit, driven largely by debt-service payments.  MBTA revenues—which are largely supported by dedicated state sales tax, $777 million in FY12—have increased from $1.44 billion inFY09 to $1.65 billion in FY12 because of an increase in contract assistance.  However, revenues have not kept up with increasing expenses, driven by large debt payments.  As of FY12, MBTA expenses were $1.65 billion of which more than $362 million were debt service payments.  Since FY01, debt payments have been between one-quarter and one-third of total expenses.  MBTA total debt service now stands at $8.5 billion while the system also faces a $4.5 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and other projects.