Hub & Spoke reports on and describes the increase in Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) public transit ridership and the effects this development will have on future ridership and service capacity within the system.
Hub and Spoke: Core Transit Congestion and the Future of Transit and Development in Greater Boston
Although bad news about the financial struggles of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) most often appears on local media outlets, there is some good news. MBTA Ridership Volumee good news: Ridership is up. However, these additional riders are filling the MBTA’s rush hour trains and straining the aging system’s capacity. This success brings with it even greater financial challenges: How will the MBTA serve its growing ridership? Hub & Spoke begins to answer this question.
In 2012, The Boston District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) commissioned Stephanie Pollack to write the Hub & Spoke report; the goal of this effort was to help stakeholders better understand core transit capacity and congestion in the MBTA system in anticipation of development trends and ridership growth. The report focuses on the growth of transit ridership in Greater Boston, the effects of development trends on future ridership, and highlights the existing capacity issues of the MBTA (segments of all subway lines other than the Blue Line are already over capacity for parts of the day) while predicting further growth of 100,000 to 367,000 new daily riders over the next 10 years. The work was funded by the ULI Foundation in conjunction with a number of Boston-based organizations including A Better City (ABC), the Medical, Academic, and Scientific Community Organization (MASCO), and Our Transportation Future (OTF).
Hub & Spoke proposes a three-tiered approach to identifying problematic congestion levels: congested, highly congested, and over capacity. It then assesses existing and forecast congestion under this system to identify the congestion “hot spots” that could impede future transit-oriented development. However, this projected growth, when coupled with its well-known financial challenges, present the MBTA with a two-pronged threat. The final section of the report addresses this threat with concrete recommendations for transit planners and political leaders alike.