“Failing bus service is one of the greatest disparities threatening the region, and the scope of the crisis requires the full attention of state and local policymakers in order to end transit inequities once and for all in Metro Boston,” writes LivableStreets in an executive summary.
Louisa Gag, Public Policy and Operations Manager for LivableStreets, served on the subcommittee that worked with staff at Cambridge City Hall in the new report’s production, and she credits the city for working with advocates to hold itself accountable to its Vision Zero goals. Gag says the city already had a “clearly demonstrated, strong commitment” to street safety even before the Vision Zero policy was adopted, and that the city’s action plan was ambitious by design.
But the progress report acknowledges that that ambition can be a challenge to accountability. One page notes that “it’s not always clear to the public how goals are being prioritized and what defines success.” Another notes that the action plan’s targets “might not be achievable in the designated time frame.”
"Did we really need a year and an 150 page report to tell the people of Massachusetts that we have a congestion problem? Nope. And I think what was more disappointing is that... it wasn't met with a list of early action items. And I think that's what has been consistently missing in this administration's approach to congestion" - Stacy Thompson, ED of LivableStreets
The credit maxes out at $50 million a year — meaning that at its best, it would impact 25,000 workers. That headcount isn’t substantial enough to fix the traffic problem, said Livable Streets Executive Director Stacy Thompson.
“Pushing this initiative would really only benefit white-collar workers who have the flexibility to stay at home,” said Thompson. “Many of our larger industries include the health care sector and the growing service sector … those folks can’t work from home.”
“It is disappointing that it took a year to write a 150-page report that largely recycles commitments and ideas that we already know about, and in the same period we had 6 major train derailments,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance...
“This Governor is more interested in slow-walking policies than taking strong immediate action,” said Thompson. “If it had illuminated something about our congestion that we didn’t already know, or meaningfully endorsed congestion pricing, or announced a congestion pricing pilot, that would have been exciting, but instead we distracted staff for a year to report on issues and ideas that we already know about.”
“We were the first multi-modal transportation advocacy organization in the Boston area,” Gag, LivableStreets’ program coordinator, tells me. “Multi-modal” means that LivableStreets doesn’t limit itself to just one project or cause... Instead of being restricted, LivableStreets is well-connected within its communities. They work with officials across the cities, advocate to push projects forward, and of course, train volunteers.
Safe streets groups say it's no coincidence that many of the roads lining the area's parks and green spaces are also among the region's most dangerous roadways.
"A lot of this infrastructure was built in the 1950s and '60s and '70s, when there was a clear cultural interest in motor vehicles and a perception that that was our future," said Stacy Thompson, Executive Director of LivableStreets Alliance.
Among the more novel suggestions in the bond bill is Baker’s proposal for a $2,000 tax credit for employees who telecommute or work remotely, to help reduce the number of people who currently drive to work and add to the region’s infamous congestion...
But Stacy Thompson, executive director of the advocacy group Livable Streets, questioned whether the telecommuter credit is really that effective. “We’re pretty skeptical of the telecommuter tax credits,” she said, adding, “It doesn’t actually have any good co-benefits."
"If you do one of these projects, it helps 20,000 people on that corridor, but if you do a dozen of these projects you can really transform that gridlock and congestion in the city and that's why this project is so exciting." - Stacy Thompson
Watch the full news clip here.
By Stacy Thompson, Executive Director of LivableStreets
When they ask, “How did Everett do it?”, I’ll say anyone can do it. All you need is a little red paint, some orange cones, an unrelenting commitment to prioritizing people over vehicles, and a belief that everyone deserves great transportation.
Advocates for balanced transportation have seized on the mayor’s statement. “What’s really frustrating is that, in terms of street management, the city controls its own destiny,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of the Livable Streets Alliance, who served on the Go Boston advisory committee. The plan’s goal to close the gap for the 59 percent of city residents who are currently more than a 10-minute walk from a train, bus stop, bike share, or Zipcar lot, she said, is “100 percent within the city’s purview, its budget, and its control.”
“The goals of these planning sessions are to offer opportunities for the communities to be empowered; to advocate for the changes they need, and to provide the know-how of who to talk to,” (Kristiana) Lachiusa said. She added that these forums provide the “resources and tools” for people who don’t know which roads belong to the city or state, and from which department or legislator where they should seek resources.
Kristiana Lachiusa, a Community Engagement Coordinator for LivableStreets, has been collaborating with Brighton Avenue’s small businesses and community organizations like Allston Village Main Streets and the Allston Brighton Health Collaborative since 2017 to advocate for the new lane.
“Allston is seeing lots of new development. There are thousands of new housing units being proposed, and without better transit service, that’s potentially thousands of new car trips in the neighborhood,” says Lachiusa. “A number of community members wanted something to be done to make it easier to bike or take the bus, so thinking about how to make the buses move more quickly was a big focus.”
The MBTA will look into giving fare discounts to lower-income people as advocates push for relief from rate hikes. Monica Tibbits-Nutt, vice chairwoman of the T’s oversight board, asked the T administration to consider means-tested fare rates. “The Commonwealth does have a social responsibility,” said Tibbits-Nutt. Stacy Thompson of the LivableStreets Alliance said, “This is a moral obligation.”
The MBTA is considering the possibility of giving discounted fares to low-income riders. Advocacy groups have been pushing for the lower cost fares. Stacy Thompson, of the Livable Streets Alliance, told the Boston Herald, "This is a moral obligation." A newly-released MIT study found that discounted fares for low-income people encourage increased use of public transit, especially for health care.
Watch thee full news clip here.
The Boston Globe noted in a recent report that none of the three budget proposals introduced since the current legislative session began five months ago have included any significant plans or funding for transportation. “Most of our leaders are not describing a vision of what transportation should look like and proposing what we need to get there,” said Stacy Thompson, a transit policy advocate, in an interview with the Globe. “Who is going to be our champion?”
What many consider a looming transportation crisis is lacking something crucial: a road map from state leaders to address it. “Most of our leaders are not describing a vision of what transportation should look like and proposing what we need to get there,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of the transportation advocacy group LivableStreets Alliance. “Who is going to be our champion?”
Part of the Go Boston 2030 plan is improving the city's network of bike plans and making them safer and easier to access. Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets, says she would give the progress on that front a C+ on her progress report. Her organization is a watchdog of the Go Boston 2030 plan.
Watch the full news clip here.
Stacy Thompson heads the LivableStreets Alliance. "You can most clearly see the deep inequity in our society on the bus," said Thompson. The accessibility advocate brought the NBC10 Investigators to Blue Hill Avenue and Morton Street, a hub connecting Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan to the rest of the city. "You can't get to the hospital, you can't get to school, you can't get to work if you don't have access to the bus," Thompson said.
What the full news clip here.
On Tuesday, in a Council hearing on the city’s transportation budget, Walsh administration officials got an earful from all three pressure points. Stacy Thompson, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance, was unusually blunt in her critique of the city’s non-progress on safe streets projects. “We have community members who just want a crosswalk painted,” Thompson said. “We have sent lists of very simple signals, crosswalks … and nothing has happened.” “I’m quite certain that folks in that community will be upset to hear we’re going to start a process to hire a person to begin a process in the Fall to begin talking about solutions.”
Tony Lechuga, the Emerald Network program manager with the LivableStreets Alliance, said that at an April 11 meeting with the DCR commissioner transit advocates were told that the agency was looking at additional protections based on new thinking around climate issues.
DCR had no comment on those statements.
“They’ve been very unclear about when we can see new designs,” Lechuga said, noting the project website still says the redesign will be at 75 percent in 2018. “DCR has often been a closed book to us and for me personally it has been extremely frustrating because we have made a good-faith effort to say this is a project that we fully support.”
Stacy Thompson of LivableStreets Alliance said the mayor’s push for more bike riding programs and more money for bike lanes is overall “good,” but agrees that the city is still behind on where it needs to be. Thompson said, “From my organization’s perspective it doesn’t seem like we’re building protected bike lanes and the infrastructure fast enough to meet goals already outlined in Go Boston 2030,” the city’s mobility plan to address transportation in Boston.
Some transit activists welcomed the delay. Stacy Thompson, director of the Livable Streets Alliance, said she always felt the T’s schedule was too aggressive and risked going into place without the big policy decisions being fully thought through. She said the T should factor in time to sort through policy issues when it sets deadlines on big projects. “From day one, we didn’t actually think that the T did enough public outreach before they did the contract with Cubic,” Thompson said. “We think it’s going to take more work or more time than they were saying. Let’s learn from this and do better with the next major project.”
At a meeting Thursday, several community advocates and residents said they wanted to see options for rebuilding the historic bridge over Fort Point Channel that would devote it solely to pedestrians and cyclists. Instead, they saw four versions designed to carry buses. “I’ve been hearing bike and ped, bike and ped, something quiet, slow, and simple like we had before,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance. “No one’s really asked for [a shuttle bus bridge].”
“Transportation, much like education, much like public health, is a public good,” (Stacy) Thompson said. “It’s not a matter of owning a car or choosing a mode, it really is like a person’s ability to get somewhere and a person’s ability to have options to get to that location really determines their economic viability.” Thompson said equitable transportation is important for every city and that even though good work has been done in Boston, she would like to see the transportation improvement projects move more quickly.
Louisa Gag of LivableStreets Alliance talks about progress toward the City's goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2030--and new steps to increase safety recommended by the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition.
Watch the full news clip here.
“The drop in fatalities is a promising shift, but it’s important to acknowledge that any crash can be a life-altering experience, so we must continue to focus on strategies that reduce the overall number of injury crashes on our streets,” said Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets. “We believe that the City can achieve their stated goal of having zero traffic fatalities by 2030, and set an example for other cities in the United States.”
While giving the city “tremendous credit,” Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance, said the overall increase in accidents demonstrates the city has to be more assertive in introducing measures such as extended curbs and traffic pylons at crosswalks and protected bike lanes. In particular, she said, the city should focus on major arterial roads that carry heavy through traffic, such as Massachusetts and Blue Hill avenues, and that also see heavy use from pedestrians and cyclists. “We really need to do more robust work on our corridors,” said Thompson. For example, Thompson and others said analysis of city data shows that fatal accidents were eight to nine times more common on arterial roads.
The number of bicyclists, pedestrians and people in cars injured stood at 4,367 in 2018 versus to 4,355 two years before. “It’s a public health crisis,” said Stacy Thompson of LivableStreets Alliance, one of the main organizations in the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, which is part of a national initiative to reduce injuries and deaths from crashes. “Four thousand people annually is not insignificant.”
Stacy Thompson, executive director of the nonprofit Livable Streets Alliance, welcomed the increase, celebrating the plan to have the money fund better pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. She said the new rates better match the value of on-street parking. “In cities that are really seriously tackling congestion, they’re making the difference between free and cheap parking being an incentive to drive into the city,” she said.
I think that it's a true statement that the T is more accessible than it has been previously, but it doesn't mean it is accessible, and I think that's a key difference," says Stacy Thompson, the executive director of LivableStreets, a transit advocacy group.
Thompson says she understands that a fully accessible T is years away. But she would like the MBTA to speed up the process with smaller projects — like installing shelters at bus stops. Those improvements should be integrated into other new initiatives, she says, such as a project that has crews working day and night to clean and repaint dingy T stops.
Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance, said the highway incident over the weekend was scary but rare. Officials should focus on dangers like drivers speeding, as well as adding more bike lanes to city streets. “Let’s not let this one incident distract us from the real problems,” Thompson said.
Tommy Vitolo said when he realized the folks who use the station haven't had a chance to weigh in, he decided to put together a meeting to present what the town and the MBTA have come up with and allow folks the opportunity to have their say.Vitolo is sponsoring the chat with LivableStreets Alliance, an advocacy group for better biking, walking and public transportation in the metro area to get people's initial reactions. "We've got folks from LivableStreets out at the station this morning handing out fliers," said Vitolo.
Stacy Thompson of LivableStreets Alliance pushed another potential solution that council members and the mayor have so far balked at: Red light cameras. “Given the number of crashes in Boston, we can’t ask our police to be superheroes. There is no number of police officers we can put on every corner to address this problem meaningfully,” Thompson said.
But Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets Alliance, said voters may change their tune in the name of solving transportation issues. “Taxpayers are going to be much more interested in paying into solutions that will meaningfully impact this problem.” Thompson also pointed to the need for other “creative and comprehensive solutions” in addition to gas tax indexing.
If you want people to take the T, they’ll have to want to ride, advocates say, encouraging the MBTA simply to make the stations, stops and vehicles less grungy and more appealing. “Those pieces are critical to convincing people to take the T and continue to ride,” said Kristiana Lachiusa of LivableStreets Alliance, talking about some of the dirty stations and bus stops in disrepair. “If you want people to want to ride the system, you have to make them feel like they’re valued customers and valued people.”
Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets, said the MBTA should “take the complaints and use the experience of T riders and use their own data to help the city and state agencies that are tasked with working with people who are homeless do their jobs better.”
The state is slowly extending the Green Line, replacing trains, and overhauling dangerously decrepit bridges; meanwhile, municipalities are piloting exclusive bus lanes. But according to Stacy Thompson, executive director of the advocacy group LivableStreets Alliance, “We can’t just do the big project that will be completed a decade from now, and we can’t just do the low-hanging fruit.” Part of what’s missing is a visionary plan to dramatically improve the infrastructure that’s already here.
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen with buses is the challenge of them being held back by highly congested streets. Approximately seven miles of streets are holding back about 90,000 riders,” said Kristiana Lachiusa, who works for the LivableStreets Alliance, a Cambridge-based transportation advocacy group. “The frequency and reliability of buses is really the strong theme that comes up when we speak with bus riders and really needs to be addressed in order for people to have access to opportunity, get to affordable housing and do whatever they need to do.”
“This is a public good, like health care, like education, and we should treat it like such,” said Stacy Thompson, Executive Director of the LivableStreets advocacy group. “It’s not about getting a few cents from the riders. What we need is for the administration to work with the great elected officials who came here and said they’re ready to fund the T.”
February 16, 2019
The intersection where the crash took place has been a dangerous spot according to neighborhood groups who have been pushing for change to make it safer. “We would recommend an overhaul of the intersection to include protected bike lanes, safer crossings for pedestrians, which includes new and different signals” says Stacy Thompson of LivableStreets Alliance.
“I feel horribly for this family,” said Stacy Thompson, Executive Director of LivableStreets. “I also feel deeply frustrated. This is an area of the city that the city and activists have known for a while is unsafe and needs improvements. It’s not moving fast enough.”
Stacy Thompson of LivableStreets said the T should be focusing more on programs that help expand access, such as discounts for minors and low-income riders. "The structure is the most important thing to be thinking about," Thompson said. “The relative amount of money the T might get for a minor increase isn’t much compared to enabling more people to get on the T.”
"What [Stacy Thompson] said is... There's so much information that can be collected from a traffic crash, and also from looking at crashes over time to see if there is a reason that traffic crashes are happening at a particular intersection. Is there something about that intersection, the way the street is designed? One of the things she really emphasized is that any given crash could just be a freak accident, but when you begin to see patterns, that's no longer an accident. That's a real safety issue that can be addressed."
“We don’t call plane crashes, plane accidents,” notes Stacy Thompson, executive director of the nonprofit Livable Streets Alliance. When a plane crashes, Thompson says, “A tremendous amount of effort goes into accessing data and being able to collect data, so that someone can access that data and figure out what went wrong, and then likely make some sort of structural change. And you can use that process when you're thinking about traffic data.”
Previous efforts to prohibit hand-held use of phones have failed to become law several times in recent years — even though public opinion polling shows widespread support for banning hand-held phones... Stacy Thompson, director of the Livable Streets Alliance, a transportation advocacy group, said the effort this time might succeed because Baker is pushing for it. “The governor is setting the goal post. We’re starting the session saying safety should be a top priority in our transportation legislative agenda,” she said. “I think the tone is different this year.”
Stacy Thompson, executive director of Livable Streets, praised the governor for compiling a number of sensible, life-saving measures in a single bill. She singled out the governor’s call for mandatory lower speed limits in construction zones and his truck guard legislation for state vehicles, which she described as a “good first step.”
January 11, 2019
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote a column slamming the practice of putting public money into bicycle infrastructure, saying bicycles don't belong in urban traffic and narrowing streets for the benefits of cyclists is "a terrible idea". Cycling advocates immediately pushed back. Jacoby and Stacy Thompson, Executive Director of Livable Streets, which advocates for innovative transportation solutions in Metro Boston join Sue to debate.
"Right now I-90 serves as a barrier and we believe this project will become a gateway. If we're going to mitigate the impacts of this multiyear construction project, we need to bolster our regional rail service first. We're hoping MASSDOT and the MBTA will commit to building West Station as the first phase of this project. This is a generational opportunity, we're going to be talking about this 50 years from now." - Stacy Thompson
Stacy Thompson of the LivableStreets advocacy organization previously told the Herald “Today in Greater Boston, there is not a mode of transportation that gives you a bigger bang for your buck. Buses have been sort of the ignored middle child of the transit system.”
Another study, by Livable Streets Alliance, a transportation advocacy group, found that Boston could improve the commutes of nearly 100,000 bus riders if the city would create dedicated lanes and prioritize traffic signals along seven miles of city streets, such as in parts of Blue Hill Avenue, Brighton Avenue, and Massachusetts Avenue.
Stacy Thompson of the LivableStreets advocacy organization said, “Today in Greater Boston, there is not a mode of transportation that gives you a bigger bang for your buck. Buses have been sort of the ignored middle child of the transit system. … But if we’re talking about short-term solutions that can make a difference, you cannot beat it.”
January 2nd, 2019
Three leading transportation advocates – Jim Aloisi of TransitMatters, Chris Dempsey of Transportation for Massachusetts, and Stacy Thompson of the Livable Streets Alliance – ring in the new year on The Codcast with a discussion about priorities.