Please note: The data and analyses contained in this section are no longer being updated and are presented here solely as an archive of Boston Indicators’ work on this Indicators Framework between the years 2000 and 2015.



Goal: 10.1 Competitive Edge in Transportation





Transportation that Enhances National & Global Competitiveness

  • Logan Airport Flight Traffic
  • Logan Airport Passenger Traffic
  • Logan Airport Shipping Traffic

The region’s capacity to move passengers, goods, and services to national and global destinations reinforces its role as a port of entry for new immigrants and enhances its reach as a world-class city within the national and global economy.

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
Traffic congestion creates a number of economic, social and environmental costs from economic activity lost to travel time, increased greenhouse gas emissions and social isolation.  A wide-range of available travel options can help off-set some of these negative impacts 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
Transportation costs constitute a major expenditure for most households, often second only to housing. Motor vehicles can be expensive to purchase, insure fuel, maintain, and repair. Like housing and health care, transportation costs affect the decisions people make about where to live, start a business or raise a family. 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. 

Goal: 10.2 An Integrated Regional System





Metro Boston's Transit Nodes

A good regional transportation system offers a range of efficient and convenient modes of travel. It supports economic development, helps shape the use of land, and connects homes, jobs, recreation and services equitably while protecting environmental resources and promoting public health.  An integrated transportation system allows municipalities to preserve their unique features while connecting them to economic as well as recreational resources.

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
The quality of life for people who live and work in Boston and the Metro region depends in large part on their ability to get from one place to another for increasingly diverse purposes.

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
Public transportation helps to connect residents with jobs and economic opportunities and reduces gasoline consumption, traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. 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.

Goal: 10.3 Equitable and High Quality Transportation Access for Al





Access to Healthy Transit Options

  • Percent of Commuters Who Bike to Work
  • Percent of Commuters Who Walk to Work
  • Access to Bike Paths
Access to transportation options such as walking or biking promotes personal health and exercise and also reduces greenhouse gas emissions the reduce air quality and drive climate change.

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

Some of the benefits of walking to school are increased physical activity for children, reduced transportation costs for the district and a sense of connection and community between the school and the neighborhood. Boston Public Schools reserves 50% of each school's seats for children within the walk zone which extends 1 mile for elementary schools, 1.5 miles for middle schools and 2 miles for high schools

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.


Mode of Transit and Travel Time to Work

  • 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
Access to reliable transportation is critical for communities throughout Boston, allowing individuals and families access to jobs, health care and the many amenities the city has to offer. Understanding transit use, car ownership and transportation methods allow Boston to effectively plan for population growth such that everything continues to move smoothly. Boston's job centers still remain difficult to access for individuals without cars. Commutes using public transit from lightly served areas remain long and frustrating, while the MBTA's efforts to upgrade its infrastructure continue to slow the system down overall.

However, the MBTA has recently completed a purchase of 284 new Red and Orange line trains to be built in Springfield, MA, and delivered beginning in 2018. In addition, track upgrades across the Red and Orange lines will assist in keeping the outdoor elements of the line free of ice and snow in colder months. These upgrades were undertaken in response to 2014's winter which shuttered the system for multiple days across January and March.

Goal: 10.4 Environmentally Sustainable Transportation





Car Ownership and Vehicle Miles Traveled, Boston and Metro Boston

  • Percent of Households with No Car
    Car Ownership
  • Car Ownership per Household
Car ownership is outstripping population growth nationally, regionally and locally. Massachusetts has more than one motor vehicle for every licensed driver, two vehicles for every household, and 1.5 vehicles for every job in the state. The increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) due to rising automobile ownership rates and dispersed development patterns is unsustainable and contributes to air, noise and water pollution.

Between 1990 and 2005, the number of cars registered rose by 38% in the City of Boston, by 30% in Metro Boston, and by 38% in Massachusetts.  More than 356,000 vehicles were registered in the City of Boston in 2005; however, the number of registrations dropped slightly in 2005 and grew more slowly in the City than in the state and metro area in three of four years between 2002 and 2005 (See Indicator 10.4.1).  Growing automobile ownership in the City has created a shortage of on-street parking.  In 2004, 76,548 on-street residential parking permits were issued—a 75% increase since 1990.  The neighborhoods with the highest increase were Charlestown, from 275 permits issued 1994 to 7,600 in 2004, and Jamaica Plain which increased from 931 in 1994 to 2,053 in 2004.  As of the most recent 2000 US Census data, 35% of households in Boston did not own a car, and recent trends suggest this may decline.  With the advent of car sharing, Zipcar—which now has 500 vehicles in 300 greater Boston locations and 65,000 customers—estimates that early 40% of their members sell an existing car or do not purchase new vehicle. Zipcar’s estimate is that each Zipcar replaces 20 privately-owned vehicles.  

Between 1993 and 2003, population in the Metro Boston area grew only 10%, but motor vehicle miles traveled grew 22%, according to estimates published by the Texas Transportation Institute. Growth in vehicle miles traveled, in Metro Boston and statewide, is increasing faster than the growth in population, growth in households, and the number of licensed drivers (although not as fast as the rate of increase in motor vehicle ownership).  As of the most recent 2000 US Census data, only 15% of households in Metro Boston did not own a car.


Use of Low Emission Vehicles

  • Total Hybrid and Alternative Fuel Vehicles Registered
  • Hybrid and Alternative Fuel Vehicles Registered per 1,000
Vehicles are the number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  Most buses, trucks, and construction vehicles use diesel fuel, which produces particulates and nitrogen oxides.  Alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles contribute lower GHG emissions than traditional vehicles using gasoline and electric vehicles do not produce local emissions. 
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.

Goal: 10.5 Adequate Public Funding





Transportation Funding by Mode

  • MBTA Revenues and Expenses
  • MassDOT Revenues and Expenses
Transportation infrastructure—roads, bridges, public transit, airports and seaports—is the backbone of economic connectivity and dynamism for Greater Boston and Massachusetts.  A fiscally sound multi-modal system is essential to ensure a state of good repair and to make future improvements that allow residents, goods and services to remain highly mobile.
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.