It won't surprise readers to learn that T ridership over the past month has dipped substantially — to around 10 percent of pre-pandemic levels. What’s more surprising is that bus ridership has taken a significantly lighter hit, with Boston’s buses continuing to serve around 40 percent of their typical ridership.
On Wednesday, former Mass. Transportation Secretary Jim Aloisi joined Boston Public Radio to talk about why that is, and give his take on how state and city officials ought to use the pandemic to improve Boston's transit system for the greener.
"What is being clearly demonstrated,” he said, "is the importance of bus transit, the particular importance of bus transit to COVID essential workers."
Aolisi expressed hope that the coronavirus pandemic will "open our eyes to the need to look at how we can re-imagine bus transit in the context of our urban public realm, so that the response to Covid, as we open things up eventually, is what I can a ‘sustainability response.’”
"You can’t go back to a future where there’s a flight to automobility,” he warned. "If we think we had bad congestion before, we’ll be in shock afterwards."
Aloisi also said officials should consider how pollution from cars contributed to a higher rate of COVID-19 deaths in areas around highways.
“Harvard came out with a report 10 days ago that said long-term exposure to particulate matter in the atmosphere is linked to a 15 percent higher mortality rate from COVID,” he explained. "I grew up in East Boston, I have asthma. I can tell you personally, do I think it’s a coincidence that I have asthma and I lived in East Boston? I don’t think it’s a coincidence… we owe it to those people to take action.”