Commuter Flows: Inequity in Transportation and Housing

In 2016, the BPDA released a report – ‘Commuter Flows: Employment and Residence Patterns in Greater Boston‘. It told what is still mostly true – “Mattapan stands out for the long commutes of its resident workers – 24% commute or more than an hour each way; 40.9% commute between 30 – 59 minutes each way. Mattapan is a residential neighborhood with the lowest ratio of jobs to worker of any Boston neighborhood and limited access to subway lines. Only 1.4% of Mattapan resident workers work in Mattapan and other workers face long commutes.” All of this is occuring while the average median income is about $48,000/yr.

It is true, that we have a new commuter rail line (Zone 1A – Blue Hill Ave) , which may be accessed on either Blue Hill Ave or Cummins Hwy. The major underlying transportation problems still exist. Developments are being proposed (i.e. – Wellington at 1301) which touts TOD (Transit Oriented Design), but it does not address the reality that many current residents face daily – long commute times. The MBTA bus lines which run up and down Blue Hill Ave do not address the very real inequity in transportation services that were most recently highlighted by City Councilors Kim Janey and Michelle Wu riding the #28 bus. The MBTA should increase the buses running from the Mattapan Station for all major throughways in Greater Mattapan area.

To highlight just how inefficient commuting from the southern part of the city is, Mattapan resident Gael Henville prefers to run to work everyday from her home in Mattapan to work in the Back Bay – “running takes me 55 minutes on a great day; if I was taking either a bus or the subway it would take a 1 ½ to go a total of 6 miles. The issue is both the subway and the buses.

A truly equitable city provides not just good transport, but good land use, infrastructure, and amenities that are often overlooked, particular for the poorest communities.” (ITOD) It is supposed to be about creating mixed-use opportunities that should match the needs of the residents, it is supposed to serve – not the other way around. Our Greater Mattapan is not a cash wealthy community, but we are rich in natural resources and good people. We need to be able to commute easily to provide a quality of life to those of who need it the most – ourselves. The obstacles are not insurmountable. It will require that developers, financiers, city/state officials, private industry and residents come together to do what is necessary – put people first, then things, then money. If you want people to forego cars, then there must be excellent transit. There must also be a manner to accommodate those who do need vehicles to perform their work or have mobility issues. There has to be a balance.