Responses from nearly 300 Boston students highlight transportation barriers affecting youth access to education, opportunity
Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu announced the results of a grassroots research initiative conducted by her office this past summer to survey hundreds of Boston students about their transportation needs and preferences. The Boston Youth Transportation Project research was led by a policy fellow in Councilor Wu’s office, Lily Ko of Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program. The project analyzed how transportation options are affecting Boston high school students and assessed youth attitudes regarding various modes of transportation in light of the City of Boston’s climate change goals.
“We often talk about transportation challenges from the perspective of employees and the economy, but it’s important to highlight just how significantly transportation challenges are shaping the lives of Boston youth,” said Councilor Wu. “Transportation costs, unreliability, and safety concerns are major barriers for our students as they seek educational, social and economic opportunities across the city. We must take policy action, because the health and prosperity of our society and economy depend on this next generation of leaders having opportunities to thrive.”
The research explored factors related to youth transportation experiences, such as the Boston Public School policy for students to be eligible for a subsidized transit pass, called an “M7 pass,” MBTA fares and service reliability, Transportation Network Company services like Uber and Lyft, preferences between various transportation modes and links to opportunities for jobs, household income, education and social interactions.
“The findings revealed that there are young people who cannot access opportunities available to them, and worse, that their transportation experiences put them at risk for discipline with educational and transit authorities, limit their learning and earning potential, produce social apprehension, affect relationships with their parents, and reduce their ability to meet basic needs,” the report concludes. “These issues were not only exacerbated by the city’s M7 walkzone policy, but also by the lack of reliable public transit service.”
Transportation accounts for between 25-33% of the City of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions. Boston’s climate plans include a goal to reduce emissions from transportation by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.
“Their strong preference for car use and increasing familiarity with TNCs indicate that much work still has to be done before future generations will shift away from the “car is king” mindset,” said author Lily Ko. “This suggests that progress on improving this biking environment should be made more aggressively than in the 15 year plan proposed by Go Boston 2030. Otherwise, there is indication from our youth that Boston’s congestion issues will become exponentially worse. At the same time, public transit must become a more competitive option.”
The full report is available at: http://bit.ly/BostonYouthTransportation2018.