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Boston surveys citizens on the impact of Covid-19 on commuting

A majority of the responses indicated a plan to return to pre-pandemic commuting choices and, of those who did plan to switch, more plan to change to driving alone than any other mode.

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12 per cent of respondents chose cycling as the new mode they plan to try
12 per cent of respondents chose cycling as the new mode they plan to try

The City of Boston, in collaboration with A Better City (ABC) has released analysis revealing how Covid-19 has impacted commuting choices before, during, and in the anticipated future beyond the current pandemic.

 

Some 4,200 office, university, and hospital employees were quizzed for the survey. A majority of the survey responses indicated a plan to return to pre-pandemic commuting choices. Of those who did plan to switch, more plan to switch to driving alone than any other mode.

 

Mode of commuting

 

More than nine in 10 respondents (92 per cent) did not have plans to purchase a new vehicle and just roughly half of commuters did not have plans to change their current sustainable mode of commuting.

 

Half of respondents stated they are not comfortable taking a rideshare trip such as Lyft or Uber. While more than four-fifths of respondents reported a desire to telework more than they did before the pandemic, only about one fifth said they want to telework full time after their workplaces fully reopen.

 

Of the 1,086 respondents who indicated that they plan to switch to a new mode of transportation when their workplace fully reopens, 12 per cent chose cycling as the new mode they plan to try – the highest proportion among all sustainable options.

 

When asked to select the top three things that would help potential future bike commuters in making it easier to ride a bike, three-fifths (59 per cent) stated dedicated bike lanes, half wanted more off-road bike paths, and two-fifths (41 per cent) wanted prioritised road space for bikes.

“The survey highlights the importance of our Healthy Streets programme to support a healthy reopening and an equitable recovery”

When current and future drive-alone commuters were asked what would encourage them to use a more sustainable mode of transportation, 45 per cent said free or reduced Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) passes would get them to make the switch.

 

“The survey highlights the importance of our Healthy Streets programme to support a healthy reopening and an equitable recovery,” said Chris Osgood, chief of streets, City of Boston.

 

According to the Boston Transportation Department (BTD), many of the survey findings show that its ongoing initiatives are pointing in the right direction to encourage sustainable commuting.

 

Mayor Martin Walsh and the City of Boston have advocated against recent cuts to MBTA service, and continue to make transit improvements that promote the health, equity, and future of Boston’s communities.

“For those workers and companies surveyed about a post-pandemic return to the workplace, transit is still a desirable choice for more than half of respondents”

This includes installation of new bus lanes and over seven miles of a connected network of protected bike lanes. Finally, the City said it will work with large employers to commit to programmes that prioritise financial incentives for transit and bike-share riders upon return to the workplace.

 

“For those workers and companies surveyed about a post-pandemic return to the workplace, transit is still a desirable choice for more than half of respondents,” added Rick Dimino, president and CEO of ABC, speaking about the deep link between transit service and economic recovery.

 

“If workplace returns track at high levels going into summer and fall, it’s the worst time to be cutting MBTA service. It would be bad for the economy, bad for congestion, and bad for the environment.”

 

The survey was developed and distributed in collaboration with ABC, a private, non-profit organisation made up of employers, institutions, building owners, and property managers working together to advance employee transportation options, improve air quality, and reduce traffic congestion.

 

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