Big new MassInc Polling Group poll reflects back what we experience in our daily lives: Traffic is lousy; and the T is late.
Two-thirds of voters (67%) report leaving earlier or later to avoid traveling during the worst traffic; nearly as many (63%) say they have felt stressed, angry or frustrated. Full-time employees are feeling the effects even more acutely, with 72% reporting emotional impacts and about half (52%) saying they have been late to work in the past few months (See chart). Among full-time employees who commute on public transportation, impacts are still more severe—63% report having been late for work, and 53% say they’ve been late for appointments in the recent past.
Funny how this works: If you neglect public transit for more than a decade, the entire transportation system breaks down and people get stressed out. Also too, more pollution. (Who thought this was a good idea?)
And here we go with the polling numbers for possible solutions to this problem. They’re eye-popping! Consensus exists, folks!
Voters, for their part, appear to be ready for change, with 66% agreeing that “action is urgently needed to improve the state’s transportation system,” compared to 21% who say the system is working pretty well as is. That action extends to raising new money to invest in the transportation system, which is supported by 80% of voters.
“Urgent” – 66%!
“Invest” – 80%!
I don’t want to just cut and paste the whole thing (read it yourself), but also note that the following things all enjoy solid- to overwhelming popularity:
- Transportation Climate Initiative (RGGI for gasoline, kind of);
- regional funding ballots for transport funding;
- regional rail (commuter rail but more frequent);
- and off-peak toll discounts.
It’s one thing when the legislature fails to act on some important principle, to do necessary things that may not be popular. But worst of all is when they refuse to act on things that are manifestly popular. Maybe this poll will move the legislature to move towards significant new funding, particularly for public (ie low-carbon) transportation. Maybe the MBTA Control Board’s public grumbling at the legislature will move them.
Or maybe the House — chockfull of press-release progressives — will find some reason not to do anything, as it usually does. I don’t prefer being cynical, but they so rarely fail to disappoint.