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Massachusetts commutes driving people nuts, poll shows

How bad is the commute around here? It's so bad, the Mass Inc. Polling Group reportsh, that one out of five Massachusetts residents has considered moving somewhere else because of it.

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Voting closed 14

I am shocked, SHOCKED, well not really shocked. When Baker's team somehow someway has 2 billion in long term state funds to expand heavily subsidized political projects: aka the Green Line Extension (GLX) and South Coast Rail (SCR): but can't come up with adequate S-O-G-R funds; you know reports like this will come out. Meanwhile has anyone caught on that the GLX and SCR projects are both Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) initiatives, and the current Baker MassDOT director is the former CLF advocate for both projects? I know this governor has a bad track record when it comes to blatant donor giveaways, but WOW.

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Voting closed 10

...or railbeds that formerly carried commuter rail trains, now returned to nature or converted to bike trails.

The Central Massachusetts branch, which formerly ran through Waltham, Weston, Wayland, and Sudbury, is one; another is the branch from Needham Junction that formerly went out to Medway and beyond.

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Voting closed 13

Can barely operate the commuter lines they currently run.

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Its underfunded and we have "mr fiscal" governor who seems to think the T can make a profit.

Want to see things change at the T? Add a 1 cent hike to the gas tax and we'd have a far greater transit system,

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Its their absurd pension scheme. MBTA employees are overpaid and their compensation is absurdly generous.

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Voting closed 19

The MBTA retirement fund has been overstating returns for years. That fat pension payout is more likely being funneled to a mini Madoff. Baker's Harvard boys did make a nice six figures at the T. That precedent has been set for executive pay with no objection.

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Voting closed 7

Don't expect the few people that fought hard and voted hard to keep their pensions to give them up, MBTA employees get spit on for heaven's sake. The scam is how the mega rich get people to vote for con artists that con you into thinking that healthcare and pensions are luxury's.

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Voting closed 9

You really need to do some research into public pensions if you think bringing them up is simply a con by the mega rich. They are bankrupting (primarily blue) states around the country, and are subject to all kinds of budget-destroying gaming.

It should not a partisan issue to keep the state (and its services) from avoiding fiscal calamity.

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Voting closed 5

Private industry conned you into believing that pensions are the problem. Then people that can't afford living expenses live off all the taxpayers instead of the company that they worked for. Public Employees pay for their pensions. Physical work requires retirement after 25 years, unless you think people should work until they become disabled. What research have you done? Where are your citations?

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Why is it that the blue collar workers are the ones that are always "overpaid" and not management?

God forbid you give a place 30 years of your life and get a pension for it.

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One in three MBTA retirees last year were under 55. That seems pretty absurd to me. Not a very good value proposition for what they provide. I'm also not excluding MBTA management from this. They're also overpaid.

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Physical jobs require a time limiting retirement. You have no idea of the service that they provide if you think this is a luxury.

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Why can't it be both? There is definitely more than one problem with the MBTA.

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We need to look at the problem, like most problems, holistically and find ways to incrementally make things better using a variety of strategies. Funding streams and reduction of overpayment to people is a must.

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Either the state doesn't have the funds or it has billions to spend. It needs to pick a lane

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Compare fare recovery of the MBTA to transit systems around the world and US. Some even make a profit! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio

MBTA fares cover about 30% of costs, while Canada is higher along with most of Europe.

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Voting closed 7

Didn't that happen, when the sales tax went from 5% to 6.25% in 2009?

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The MBTA owns the equipment, but has always hired third parties to run the trains. Currently it's a company called Keolis that runs them.

In the past, the T has used Amtrak, the Boston and Maine Railroad (which now calls itself Pan Am and uses the defunct airline's logo), and MBCR.

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Voting closed 8

I hope Keolis loses that contract. They are dishonest.

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I was glad to see a supermajority feel this way:

80% support increasing the frequency of commuter rail trains running to and from Boston to every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the day, at night and on weekends.

What city doesn't have people complaining about their commute? Boston is a whole lot better than NY.

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However, some are worse off than others.

Londoners complain about their commute...but after spending a week there recently, I'd never complain after dealing with the T for years and then experiencing the Underground. It's night and day between the two.

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You need to live there, like a typical citizen, for at least a year. True of any city. London Underground and suburban trains have lots of problems.

MTA in NYC is also in bad disrepair. DC metro was going to be completely shut down for at least a year it's in such poor condition, and it only dates to the 1970s.

Smugness won't make anything impove. Metro Boston does, in fact, have some of the worse traffic and longest commutes among large metro areas. At least our taxes aren't as obscene as NY and California, and cost of living is high, but not as obscene as NYC, L.A.,S.F.

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Voting closed 7

I think recent stats are that Boston area drivers have the longest average commute in the country, and depending where you're going the T can still take you over an hour to get where you need to be. I do hope they add congestion pricing to the roads and more expensive city parking.

What boggles my mind is why there isn't a desire to build bigger parking accommodations at rail stops. People who need to go into the city should be incentivized onto rail saving road capacity for the people who have to go around/through the city where rail is less available.

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Ask why your town doesn't work with the MBTA to do that.

Then sit back and hear the howling about OMFG DENSITY AND PEOPLE FROM OUT OF TOWN!!!!

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Voting closed 9

What if there was a large capacity parking garage say 5 miles or so out of the city, massive space and public transportation moved the car people in and out of the city. One parking spot out of the city. That would help people not on public transit lines, or those that can't or won't take p.t. I have no desire to drive anywhere in the city any longer, it's not worth it. Too congested, too expensive.

I've lived here all my life and there are just too many people, congestion every where you go. Traffic is getting just as bad on weekends.

I'm glad I will be retiring in less than 10 years and will gladly sell my home to someone who wants this. I sure don't.

I live 20 minutes from my front door to the city, same with the airport. It's over an hour commute to the city on morning commutes, meaning you'd be smart to take public transportation. Try to get a parking space after 7 am. So you have people that want to take public transportation but it's not walk-able from their home, and there's no parking spaces at the stop. On top of that, they are raising T fee's and talking about congestion pricing. How will congestion pricing help the workers that are just trying to earn a living and having to do so with unreliable service?

The T may have not reached it's tipping point yet, but I have.

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Voting closed 11

Just plopping a massive garage somewhere doesn't work. Too dense already, it would have to be beyond 95. And you need good access to it, in & out. See the mess that happens at Alewife every day for an example of how things should NOT work.

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Voting closed 6

They did. There were massive commuter rail parking expansions as part of the Big Dig mitigation.

Unfortunately, they failed to realize that giant parking lots in a swamp don't attract as many riders as well-placed stations. See Greenbush and Newburyport.

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https://boston.curbed.com/2019/4/25/18515568/boston-commute-times-to-from

Boston has the third longest average commute time among major U.S. cities, with only 13 percent of commuters able to reach their destinations by vehicle or mass transit within 30 minutes.

Boston is tied with New York for second-worst city for commuting via car among the major cities analyzed, with an average of 40 minutes each way.

As for mass transit, including the T, the situation is not much easier for commuters (see the map immediately above). The average length is 49 minutes each way, according to the analysis. That makes Boston the fourth-worst nationwide for commuting via mass transit, behind only New York, Chicago, and Washington.

Roads and transit are failing commuters. Ultimately need T fares to keep pace with other cities/reality so it has some actual funding (as well as pension reform), and congestion pricing on the roads to nudge people on to the T and off the roads (and probably needed investment into the jokes that are 93 and 95 at rush hour)

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Voting closed 4

I'm on a business trip this week in Virginia. I'm in Tyson's/McLean.

I took a lyft (because I was running late) to Arlington for dinner. I think Boston traffic is bad.. it took 30 minutes just to get out of Tyson's.

And there's a Metro station (two actually) nearby. But of course, 4-5 lanes in either direction with a Metro station in the center.

Traffic is no better anywhere else is my point.

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...are a major part of the problem. They're pulling people off public transit and putting more cars on the road.

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The fact that the MBTA has gotten so much worse, and so much more unpredictable is precisely why many more people are using Lyft and/or Uber to get to where they need to go. I'll also add that Lyft and Uber (I don't use Uber, for all kinds of reasons.) are a hell of a lot cheaper and more reliable than regular taxi cabs and the MBTA.

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Voting closed 7

While I agree that some may use ride shares because the T reliability is bad, there certainly are many that would use it regardless, because of the convenience of door-to-door service. The T will never be able to replicate that (nor should it).

Also, the increase in ride sharing is contributing to the poor reliability of bus service, so it goes both ways.

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There are many times when I go to classes, and often stay after classes, until fairly late at night, like until eleven o'clock or so, if I take the MBTA, I drive somewhere, at times, too. I like having the Lyft ride home late at night when I've taken the MBTA somewhere.

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Voting closed 3

Despite the fact that we all *have computers* which means, in theory, people can work *from anywhere*, everyone in the world seems to need to go to one of about a dozen cities to make their way. Why does everyone at the same e-company all need to be in the same building? Why does everyone need to be on one of the coasts or maybe Chicago or Austin to work together? I really don't understand.

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Voting closed 10

I read somewhere that employers are discovering that people working from home are not as productive as people who come to the office. There are also communications issues that seem to arise whenever people in different locations need to cooperate. Telecommuting may be the answer for some people, especially independent contractors, but if you need a team to work efficiently together, they may need to work in the same physical location.

And there are some jobs, like construction, that are physically impossible to do from home.

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There are studies that say the direct opposite as well. That telecommuters actually work harder and more hours that when in the office.

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Telecommuting is an important part of the solution and we need to learn how to increase its productivity.

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I am definitely more productive at home where I don't get people distracting me every 20 minutes.

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but youre absolutely right.

The DC Metro beltway area occupies an even deeper circle of hell.

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Voting closed 7

Traffic is no better anywhere else is my point.

So... because traffic is bad in the DC area, that means it's just as bad everywhere?

I'm not sure I agree with your police work there, Lou.

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That is what I meant

Ask someone in Houston, they will say their traffic is the worst
Ask someone in Atlanta, they will say their traffic is the worst
Ask someone in San Deigo, they will say their traffic is the worst
Ask someone in Seattle, they will say their traffic is the worst
Ask someone in Chicago, they will say their traffic is the worst

Point: It just sucks everywhere and it's getting worse.

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Voting closed 5

The uncheck development has caused this problem. When someone wanted to build something, they use to do traffic studies and would reject or change the project, depending on the impact. Now, they don't care. My fear is when they start to take property to widen roads, add streets, and build ramps.

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It is systematic attacks on the transit system by Libertarian Think Tank where Charlie first launched his gut and cut and run it into a rut schemes for satisfying his Koch Brothers overlords.

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Voting closed 18

I did think it ironic that the T would brand itself with that old song to introduce, of all things, a fare increase.

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Voting closed 4

Our governor screwed up the mbta's funding to save the big dig and he should wade in and fix it.

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Voting closed 3

128 is getting a real added lane to replace driving in breakdown lanes, but that's about the only road expansion inside 128 in like 50 years while real estate development has gone unchecked. Worse, travel lanes have actually decreased and been narrowed around Boston via "road diets". Other towns and cities have reversed road diets, and we need to also. They greatly worsen congestion, not improve safety. Road rage is skyrocketing as an unhealthy consequence.

People prefer car transport, and that is even clearer with millions of new trips by rideshare drivers driving for people, producing loss in MBTA ridership. Democracy and capitalism is about giving people choices and what they want, not what a central committee decides is best for them. Computer (and transit) geeks though, are all about social engineering, and, because they think themselves so smart, they know what's best for everyone. How can the public not love such people?

The MBTA is over capacity too, given building new trainsets takes as long as building roads. The T is over capacity at peak times - it needs a contractor scheme like Uber so more workers can operate more trains and buses during peaks and not work/get paid during low demand. Until then, public transit isn't financially sustainable and we need to fix the roadway deficit.

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Voting closed 3

This is what happens in a car-centric society. Until people start demanding better train / bike/ pedestrian infrastructure and holding pols (and ourselves) accountable this is never going to change - it will only get worse.

I am sure the same people that complain about the commute are the same people driving daily with only themselves in their car. Or they are of the suburban groups that say "we're not paying for your trains" even though better train infrastructure would benefit them never mind the fact that everyone pays for "their" roads.

It's time this country starts looking to the future and stop staying stagnant.

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Voting closed 26

I remember President Obama touting rail service expansion early in his time in office. Nothing ever came from it.

It's truly a bipartisan shame. I would love to be able to take the train north, south and west.

While I don't agree with your us vs. them slant, I do agree train service should be encouraged on a local and national level.

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Voting closed 8

We
1) do nothing
2) wait for everyone to leave
3) voila!

How's the commute through Detroit been the last 20 years?

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The analogous Boston scenario would be for the majority of the 100+ colleges and universities to close, and for the health care sector to shrink. Education and health care are the principal pillars of our local economy. Property values would plummet, foreclosures would skyrocket, and people would leave the area by the tens of thousands. Yes, it would solve the traffic congestion problem, but it would be more or less like setting your house on fire to get rid of a bedbug infestation.

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Voting closed 7

Good, I don't own any. And I see a bunch of the colleges are closing/merging already.

I fail to see the threat. Don't the majority of Bostonians rent? I like the idea of property values dropping.

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Traffic jams through the hills of Newton and Brookline every day. Dozens, possibly hundreds of people clogging the streets.

Meanwhile Harvard, MIT, BU and Northeastern each have 10,000 staff or more … so I don't think Mt Ida is going to move the rental market.

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Voting closed 6

I was aware of the Red Line being shutdown on the weekends from Alewife to Harvard for some repairs or whatever, but I had thought it was over this past weekend. Since I didn't account for that and it added extra time on my way in it caused me a great deal of panic about missing a train whereas had everything been normal I had allotted myself more than enough time to catch it.

This was the same day as someone falling on the tracks at SS. I fortunately missed that.

It's always something. Almost every day.

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Voting closed 7

If physically able, can I suggest that you try one of these Bluebikes? This is the perfect time of the year to do so. I mean it in an encouraging way, not a sarcastic way. Biking in Cambridge, Somerville and all the way to South Station has gotten a lot better lately. It can be intimidating the first few times, but once you start building up your confidence and figuring out the best route, it gets easier quickly. Google map in Bicycling mode, and just asking other people who ride in the city (and are usually happy to share good advice) is a good way to go about it. It's a lot more pleasant and reliable than waiting for a broken train on an overcrowded platform.

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Voting closed 9

...they have to shut down? That's the newest part of the Red Line, opened in 1983. You never heard of them shutting down the Harvard - Park Street segment that dates from 1912.

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Voting closed 9

for Longfellow Bridge construction.

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Voting closed 7

I was extremely lucky to find and purchase affordable housing inside Boston city limits. Every last one of my friends and family have moved, not only out of Boston, but out of state. Mostly to Rhode Island but a couple to NH and New York State as well. Unless you are a doctor or tech bro (or union construction worker honestly) its just not worth it. When you tack on the commute most people are putting in 50-60 hours at, or on the way to, work. A rat race if ever there was one.

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Voting closed 10

Did the people who moved to NH find work there? Most such people do not, and then help to produce painful commutes on Rte 93 and Rte 3. Thanks for the taxes, NH commuters!

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Voting closed 5

...and I notice that a lot of people use it to commute to Boston from Exeter and Dover.

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Voting closed 3

From my big Irish family in JP. 'when my wife first met me she called me Mr. Public Transportation. I had a T pass and used it to go everywhere. Commuted from Rossie/Dedham to Back Bay South End for about 25 years. We moved to RI to so my wife could be close to her elderly parents. I did the commuter rail to Boston for a few months before I decided to look for a job in RI. It was taking about 2 hours each way. I work in IT I and got a job working for the Navy in Newport. First time in my life I've ever driven myself to work! I go in pretty early so the ride in is nice, I'm going over the bridges just around sunrise, the traffic is light and the view is great. Going home is usually fine except for summer. I'll get stuck in the afternoon beach traffic going home but what can you do? When I lived near the Dedham line it took me about 75 min to make the 7 mile trip by T I now do the 35 mile trip in about 35 min. I do miss just sitting back reading the paper and having my coffee. Just a few more years before I can wear shorts year round.....

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Voting closed 4

don't move to Los Angeles.

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over the past few decades. Much more than we have in Boston.

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Have you been to LA? I lived there for three years recently. The city is V-A-S-T. While I applaud new rail and subway lines and stations, they will not make a dent in the infamous traffic, which is far worse than wee Boston could ever imagine. Rail and subways help those who live and work within a half mile or so of a station. Again, I am pro-subways and trains; its just such modes don't help most people in a city that is 2X the size of Rhode Island!

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Voting closed 4

In a large metropolitan area of 5 million people, I don’t understand where folks get this idea that they are entitled to live in any part of the City, drive to work cheaply wherever and whenever they choose, and expect it to go smoothly every time. That’s never going to happen. Just like everything else in life; it’s all about compromises.

Personal finance guru Mr Money Mustache had a wise and entertaining column on that topic. Quote: "this misconception about what is a reasonable commute is probably the biggest thing that is keeping most people in the US and Canada poor."
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/06/the-true-cost-of-commuting/

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Voting closed 9

It is not that anyone is feeling "entitled", dvg, folks are just trying to make it like you and I.

Or, let me put in this way, the reality is that the roads can't handle the amount of cars and there are many reasons why that is and those issues to be addressed. It is not about things going smoothly every time. It is about a reasonable expectation that one will not spend hours in traffic to get home from work each working day every day.

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STOP DRIVING EVERYWHERE

YOU ARE TRAFFIC

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Voting closed 19

She didn't have a work permit in Australia, but she didn't need one since her jobs were back in the States.

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Voting closed 3

also getting paid in their home country.

Hey, that's the industry needing expansion south of the US border so people can live in their own countries!

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Voting closed 3

People in styrofoam hats are traffic, too.

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No.

They're only traffic is as much as they haven't reached a traffic light and been able to pass to the front of the line.

For every bike in traffic, it's one fewer car, it takes less space even if it's sharing the lane with cars, and by the next traffic signal, it's past and out of the way. And they're not on the highways which are the biggest traffic sinks.

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Voting closed 6

Put high speed chairlifts right over the median of the highways as a temporary fix until trains and parking are improved. If private ski mountains can put these up, Boston should be able to do the same thing to ease congestion.

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Voting closed 3

to perhaps account for specialized vehicles, the handicapped, school children, first responders and the elderly, there is not one single reason to continue to allow Boston to be infested with vehicular trash.

Cars must be banned in Boston. ( Well, not EXACTLY, but that's what the meatheads will call it so fuck, let's call it a car ban).

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Voting closed 3

While we're thinking big, maybe it's worth thinking about why people need to live too far from where they work to be serviced by local transit. Chicken and egg and chicken and egg and chicken...

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yet, unrealistic scenario, to think that the location of one's residence will always coincide with the location of their employment.

Anytime someone gets a reassignment from their job, they're supposed to find a new home? Or anytime someone moves to a new residence (due to a better overall living situation/change in status/etc.), they're supposed to find a new job within a relatively small distance?

I've been at the same place of employment for 15 years. I originally had a 15-minute commute, when I was in my early 20's & living at home. Shortly after, I moved to an apartment, and my commute went to 30 minutes. After my girlfriend (now wife) lived with me for a while & we wanted to start a family, we moved, and now my commute is an hour.

I've changed my residential situation based on changes in life, and living opportunities that will cater to what would financially work. I'm not leaving my job because of advancing my life & family. I'm also not sacrificing the quality of living situation/family based on settling for what is "closest" to my job. The real question I have is, why (throughout the above-mentioned moves) do I still not have a way to take a train, from just outside my house, and get to work? Trying to accommodate the closest combination of Commuter Rail options would take me at least 2 hours to get to work each way. That's not really a "choice", when I barely have time to spend with my toddler as-is, once I do get home from work via driving.

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Voting closed 3

Much has already been written about this, llb. The cost of living in this state is driving many to live farther out (where, unfortunately, there is no public train service) in the state or move to another state. And many of the jobs are still based in the Boston/Cambridge area so people car commute.

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Voting closed 2

I'd like to know what planning genius decided to have the Tobin, Charlestown Bridge and Washington St underpass projects happening concurrently?!? I expect some rush hour traffic, but the new norm is that my 7.5 mile commute takes over 1 hour on average, and that is ridiculous! And before people jump all over me to just bike to work, I would if I wasn't injured, so that's not possible right now.

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Voting closed 5

which has a lot to do with the Washington Street Underpass, the Broadway Bridge to Ball Square in Somerville, and the Charlestown Bridge closings that are taking place right now. It's going to take awhile, unfortunately.

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Voting closed 3

There is an easy solution to this:

1. Institute a (variable) congestion charge for any vehicles driving within Route 128.
2. Use congestion charge revenue to increase T service (coverage and frequency) and build a network of protected bike lanes.

Other actions needed:
- Build more housing in transit-rich areas
- Locate more jobs in transit-rich areas

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Voting closed 6

I'm glad the government has the ability to decree that East Lexington is congested while Natick isn't.

This would be a good way to push even more development out to the car-oriented sprawl along 495.

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As some wag once said "the worst tie up stuck in you car alone is better than the best commute on the "T" having to endure creatures that should be hosed down then locked in Bedlam for the rest of their misreble lives."
Just sayin' ;)

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Voting closed 3