The Impact of Transit Cuts on Equitable Development

FRI, JAN 22, 2021 (56:40)

In December 2020, the MBTA approved widespread cuts to bus and commuter rail service despite objections from officials and transit advocates. Starting in January, twenty bus lines will be shut down, and weekend commuter rail service will end for communities along the Fitchburg, Franklin, Greenbush, Haverhill, Kingston/Plymouth, Lowell and Needham lines.

What impacts will the cuts have on the Commonwealth’s pandemic recovery? Many lawmakers, transportation advocates and Gateway City business owners say public transit is essential for equitable and enduring pandemic navigation - both in terms of public health and the economy. But with the grim realities of budget shortfalls from the pandemic, transit agencies across the country face similar cuts.

Join GBH transit reporter Bob Seay, MassINC’s transit-oriented development fellow Dr. Tracy Corley, Steven Higashide of TransitCenter, State Representative Andy Vargas for the 3rd Essex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and Will Dickerson, the executive director of Brockton Interfaith Community, as they discuss the immediate and long-term impacts of service cuts and how they will impact communities across the state and nation differently.

+ BIO: William Dickerson II

William Dickerson is the executive director of the Brockton Interfaith Community (BIC), a multi-faith, multi-ethnic non-profit organization representing greater Brockton. Their mission is to work collaboratively on issues chosen together to promote racial and economic justice through prophetic, faith-rooted community organizing.

He is also an activist and a founding member of DARRC group whose goals are to “Demilitarize, Accountability, Reallocate, Reimagine Community.”

+ BIO: Andy Vargas

Andy X. Vargas was elected first in 2017 to serve as State Representative for the 3rd Essex District (MA House).

In the past, Andy served as a White House intern under the Obama Administration. While at the White House, Andy researched and wrote on issues pertaining to immigration, the economy, Latin America, and more.

Rep. Vargas also worked at Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) as the Senior Marketing Manager where he supported early-stage startups in mid-sized cities across the Commonwealth. Andy was previously elected to the Haverhill City Council when he was 22. His time on the City Council was marked by strong advocacy for economic development, education, financial transparency, and support for public safety.

+ BIO: Steven Higashide

Steven Higashide is Director of Research for TransitCenter, a New-York-based foundation that supports innovations in urban transportation across the country. He directs TransitCenter’s research aimed at measuring American attitudes toward public transit, and develops policy guides and workshops that help cities enact transit-supportive policy. His research has been widely cited by mainstream and industry media, including the Washington Post, Vox, and Wired. In 2016 he was named to the Association for Commuter Transportation’s “40 Under 40.” He was previously senior planner for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, where he watchdogged Connecticut state transportation policy and helped pass laws protecting transportation funding and vulnerable road users. Steven holds a B.A. from New York University and a Masters in Urban Planning from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

+ BIO: Bob Seay

Bob Seay is the transportation reporter for WGBH News.

He formerly hosted Morning Edition for WGBH News, and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than three decades. Before joining WGBH in October 2010, Bob was Morning Edition host at Rhode Island Public Radio and the director of community radio station WOMR in Provincetown. For more than 15 years, he was the news and public affairs director at WQRC in Hyannis covering Cape Cod and the islands. Bob has also worked as a host on WBUR.

+ BIO: Tracy A. Corley, PhD

Dr. Tracy Corley is the Director of Research and Partnerships at CLF, supporting scientific practices and partnerships across the organization. Tracy identifies areas where research and science can support active advocacy and litigation and also coordinates independent research related to climate change and environmental justice across New England. She brings experience in research, public policy, law, and conservation to her role and thrives on bringing people together to tackle the systemic issues that drive conservation and environmental justice.

Prior to joining CLF, Tracy served as the Transit-Oriented Development Fellow at MassINC, where she conducted research and convened stakeholders to promote equitable development in Massachusetts’ Gateway and regional cities. Her time at MassINC followed her mid-career graduate studies, when she researched the economic development potential of New England cities at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, then split her time between Boston and the German Rhineland investigating informal work in Germany’s skilled trades and crafts sector. She also has lived in Seattle, Washington, where she conducted strategic planning and coordinated a participatory research program for formerly incarcerated workers at Seattle Jobs Initiative; founded two consulting firms that helped advance clean technologies, sustainable development, and energy efficiency; and advocated for inclusive economic development as Vice-Chair of Small Business for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees. She has also worked as an architect and designer in Washington state and South Carolina.

Tracy holds a B.A. in Architecture from Clemson University and both an M.S. in Public Policy and a Ph.D. in Law and Public Policy from Northeastern University. She grew up on a farm in South Carolina, enjoys being out in nature, and believes that urban places can be regenerative for people and the planet. Outside of work, Tracy enjoys opera and museums, neighborhood bike rides with friends, and experiencing new places. She also writes, speaks, and teaches regularly.

TTOD "Transformative Transit-Oriented Development" Talks