MassDOT Head Launches Initiative To Reduce Car Travel And Increase Greener Modes Of Transport

The head of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation took a bus to Springfield Tuesday to announce a new state initiative aimed at reducing the number of cars on the road and encouraging what he calls healthier transportation options.
“We call it Mode Shift. But even my mother looks at me and says what are you talking about when you say Mode Shift? It’s basically getting out of your car.”
MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey says that Mode Shift means walking, bicycling, ride sharing or car pooling, or taking public or private transit. He says the goal is to triple the amount of travel by means other than cars over the next decade. It’s all part of a plan the Patrick-Murray administration calls the most ambitious in the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a significant amount coming from cars and trucks. Davey says mode shift extends to state government as well, in prioritizing where scarce transportation dollars will go. He adds there’s no more money or room to build super highways across Massachusetts, and residents and state government must find other ways of ensuring congestion relief. Davey says that will mean devoting more money to regional transit authorities, and projects that develop inter-modal transport hubs or convert old railroad lines to bicycle trails.
“The current system we have we can’t afford. The one we all want we can’t afford. We have to figure out as a commonwealth together how we can afford transportation. And at least with the Mode shift, it’s about a quality of life, it’s about healthy choices, it’s about lack of congestion on our roads. Those are the reasons why we need to make these investments.”
For Mary MacInnes, administrator of the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, or PVTA, that mode shift has already been taking place, as ridership on its buses has increased in recent years despite a cutback in service. But MacInnes says the PVTA cannot begin to meet the goal of tripling ridership without more government help.
“We need to get additional state funding in order to provide more service, better frequencies, new routes, etc.”
MassDOT’s Davey says in addition to the Mode Shift goal, his department has been holding a series of public meetings statewide to craft a long-term financing plan for transportation, and asking residents for their input. The next meeting in the series is Wednesday at the UMass-Amherst Campus Center from 6 to 8pm