Everyone knows Boston traffic is gridlocked and public transportation does not perform. Current ambitious State plans to fund public transportation, by an $18Billion bond offering, presently are pending in the Legislature. According to an expert panel convened by the National Association of Corporate Directors-New England and the Business Roundtable held February 11 at the Boston Harvard Club, that $18Billion is a drop in the bucket.
Compared to other cities, Boston (which needs a lot of help as a very old and congested city) is a piker. Seattle has a $54Billion transportation program and Los Angeles has a program in excess of $100Billion. Further, it seems that the $18Billion is designed merely to make things operable, and not to address an expansion of transportation options. That will take a lot more money.
The panel noted that businesses are moving out of Boston and Cambridge into surrounding suburbs, and as far west as Worcester. The problem is that many in the high tech millennial population want to be in Boston or in Cambridge. But housing is so expensive that housing becomes part of the problem.
What can directors do? In terms of fixing geographic location and commuting policy for employees, management should be asked to listen to employees in detail: what their needs are. Many current surveys, which ask a few simplistic questions such as “how do you typically get to work,” are not useful. You need to know when people travel and what their problems are, specifically and then statistically. Sometimes subsidies for mass transit are not the answer.
A board can also ask management to become politically active, putting pressure on government and the Legislature to address the problems presented.
The presenting panel included the President of Zip Car, the Vice President for Public Policy for Verizon in New England, the President of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and the Marketing Director for JLL New England (serving business real estate clients). If this panel thinks it may get worse before it gets better, we all are in for trouble.