Rethinking Transportation Policy
U.S. Representative for Massachusetts's 7th congressional district
Who is Rep. Ayanna Pressley?
As the Representative for the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District, I have worked in close partnership with residents, advocates, and other elected officials to combat the inequities and disparities facing our communities.
How has COVID impacted transportation in Boston?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our public transportation system with transit agencies across the country, including the MBTA, cutting services in order to stay financially afloat. Prior to the pandemic, Black and brown riders in the Metro-Boston area spent 64 hours more per year on buses relative to their white neighbors, so cutting these services has a disproportionate impact on them, and on our most vulnerable neighbors and the essential frontline workers who rely on the MBTA to get to and from their jobs, buy groceries, access healthcare, and more. Cutting services will also lessen riders' ability to maintain physical distancing, so this is both a transit justice and a public health issue.
What changes and new ideas have you advocated for or implemented during the pandemic?
In Congress, I am proud to have founded the Future of Transportation Caucus with Reps. Chuy Garcia (D-IL) and Mark Takano (D-CA), the first-ever Congressional caucus dedicated to centering equity, access, and sustainability in our transportation infrastructure. Together, we have introduced the "Improve Access to Jobs Act" and the "Improve Access to Services Act", which would require the federal government to invest in projects that make our transportation systems safer and more efficient to get people to jobs and essential services.
How would this change long-term public transit in Boston?
Our nation's transportation and infrastructure policies play a critical role in building healthy and safe communities, but these policies have also helped perpetuate many of our most entrenched inequities. While our past policy decisions have created these injustices, our future choices can pursue precise, data-driven policies to achieve transit equity. As we re-imagine where to invest our resources, we must prioritize long-term sustainability and improvements to our transit systems while reducing the financial burden for riders who rely on these services.