Transit Policy For Cambridge

Burhan Azeem
Jul 2 · 4 min read

Here’s the problem

Earlier this year, I met a janitor named Jose. He was undocumented and grateful for the job. It paid decently, provide stability, and he liked making the place shine. He started work at 4 pm and ended at 2 am. In the mornings, he would take the T but at the end of the day — the T had shut down. He couldn’t afford to Uber. As such, every day he would spend two hours walking home. This is a disgrace.

It is incredibly difficult for our people to get where they need to go. Our region has the worst traffic congestion in the country (1). Our cyclists feel unsafe on our roads (2). Our mass transit is deteriorating (3) while at the same time we keep pushing fare hikes (4). We are letting people like Jose down.

This should not be the case in Cambridge. We need to rethink the way we invest in our infrastructure. We should be leading on these issues, not letting our neighbors take charge (5). Here in Cambridge, we are the most progressive, prosperous, scientific, and resourceful community in the Commonwealth.

We should be leading on these issues!

Making Mass Transit Work: Fixing the T & Improving Bus Service

Fixing the T

MBTA service is unreliable. We have seen two derailments in the last few weeks alone. The delays are stacking up and are not about to be fixed soon. People count on the T to get to work on time and get around. Every hour spent waiting is lost income, lost time with family, and lost faith in our public services. We need urgency.

At the same time, we have seen fare hike after fare hike. In the last decade, the fare has risen almost 50%. We should not be paying more for worse service. These are #UnFairHikes.

We should be investing in public transportation. We need a better T. It is critical to get people where they need to go. It will pay dividends. It will help us tackle climate change and our housing crisis.

Yes, the MBTA is a state agency and the city council has no direct control over it. That 👏 is 👏 the 👏 problem.👏

Our cities understand how critical a working T is to our residents. We should demand representation on the MBTA’s governing board.

We then need to push for more funding and better service such that we never need to wait for more than 5 or 10 minutes for a train.

Improving Bus Service

In Cambridge bus service is critical — it connects our city and allows so many people to get around. We should do better to ensure it is functional.

  • This means addressing transit deserts in Cambridgeport and West Cambridge. We should never be more than half a mile from a bus stop.
  • This means adding bus lanes to speed up service and help people get to where they need to go.
  • This means putting up clear signs with estimated wait times and updating our online services so that people know when the bus will arrive with certainty.
  • This means adding more bus shelters throughout our city so that people don’t need to wait outside in the rain or snow for a bus to arrive.

Clearing our Roads: Bike Safety, Driving, and Walking

Biking

Cambridge has one of the largest biking population of any city in the US.

We should take the safety of our bikers seriously and fully integrate them into our infrastructure.

  • This means following through on our Cycling Safety Ordinance and pushing our city manager to ensure we build up our bike network quickly.
  • This means going further than building bike lanes. We should build side-walk bike paths that provide greater safety for riders and certainty for drivers.

Bluebikes is a city-owned program to allow people to rent and use bikes if they do not own one. It encourages more people to try biking and many in our city rely on it to get around.

We should invest in blue bikes to improve bike accessibility for everyone.

  • This means ensuring people can rent a bike when they need one. We should conduct a formal study of the current system and find out where there are shortages. We should invest in load balancing by moving bikes where they will be most used and expanding the system so that they can be used citywide.

Driving

The greater area has some of the worst congestion in the country. In Cambridge much of the traffic — as much as 80% — comes from people coming from outside to work in or around Cambridge.

  • This means building housing in Cambridge in transit-rich areas to alleviate traffic.
  • This means regulating where Uber/Lyft can stop as to not block the flow of traffic.

Walking

As much as 20% of our city walks to work. It is the single most important way to get around but we sometimes forget our pedestrians.

  • We should ensure they get priority in clearing where there is a lot of snow.
  • We should study sidewalk expansions, plant trees, and shape our streets to make them more welcoming.
  • We should study building pedestrianizing areas of our city.

Last Comments

I see a lot of the issues in our transportation first hand. Unlike most of the current council, I do not own a car. I hope to never own a car. I bike to work, walk to get groceries and take the T to get around. As a councilor, I’ll make it my goal to make Cambridge the best city to live in for people using all modes of transportation.

Earlier today I was talking to commuters and advocating against the #UnFairHikes.

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