Episode 165: Get Out on the Highway

33 minutes

1/21/2021-- This week, we bring you an all-transit episode of The Horse Race.

This is also the first episode under the new Biden administration, and we plan to publish an episode exploring what the new administration means for Massachusetts in the very near future.

For now, we jump into the news that state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack is departing to serve on the Federal Highway Administration. The development drew responses of praise and criticism on Pollack's job performance. Our guest and Executive Director of TransitMatters Jarred Johnson struck a balance between the two. On Thursday morning when the news broke, he tweeted that Pollack is, "one of the smartest and most talented transportation advocates this Commonwealth has ever seen," but also said, "You cannot change things from the inside when the inside is run by people who fundamentally disagree with your line of thinking."

He stops by The Horse Race to provide his take on the legacy Pollack leaves behind, beginning with the hope transportation advocates had when "one of their own" stepped into executive office, and the disappointment they ultimately felt when the transformative actions they sought didn't happen.

Later, MassINC Polling Group Research Director comes back on the pod to share new data on Gateway City transportation habits. The survey Rich conducted shows the biggest obstacle to transit ridership is, no surprise, fear of contracting COVID-19.

But as more and more people get vaccinated, presumably more people will start feeling more comfortable riding public transportation. And even though ridership is down now, a majority of Gateway City residents support major changes to public transit. Once the severity of the pandemic has subsided, such proposed changes could help make public transit options more attractive than driving. A majority of respondents said driving is their primary mode of transportation, citing reasons of safety, efficiency, reliability, and convenience.

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