Kadish put in charge of transportation commission

Will look at disruptive changes; new revenue on table


WITH AN EYE on the state’s transportation needs through the next two decades, Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday created a special commission to try to understand how transportation options and demand could change by 2040 and how the state can be ready to adapt to those changes.

The Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth was created by executive order and Baker appointed its 18 members, with his former chief of staff, Steve Kadish, chairing the group. The panel’s recommendations are due by Dec. 1, after this year’s legislative and statewide elections take place in November.

The commission is charged with developing a range of scenarios anticipated between 2020 and 2040 and advising the administration on “how to ensure that transportation planning, forecasting, operations and investments for the period from 2020 through 2040 can best account for likely demographic, technological, climate, and other changes in future mobility and transportation behaviors, needs and options.”

“Making informed transportation decisions and policy guided by the best analysis possible will be the foundation for success across the board in years to come to keep our innovation economy thriving and competitive,” Baker said in a statement Tuesday.

The executive order creating the commission tasks it with investigating “topics that are critical to laying a foundation for understanding anticipated changes” in demographics and transportation. The administration specifically instructs the commission to consider climate change and infrastructure resiliency, electrification of personal vehicles and transit systems, the potential spread of autonomous vehicles, how public transportation will intersect with on-demand transit options, and how land use and demographics will affect transportation options by 2040.

“This is going to be a serious effort, with a broad range of experts who will seek to better understand and evaluate how technology and other forces in society will affect transportation in the decades ahead,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a statement. “We believe Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to convene a group like this which will play an important role in looking at disruptive changes in transportation, an exercise that is essential to laying the foundation for any future transportation blueprint.”

Pollack noted that the same forces that could drive change in transportation could also impact the state’s capital investment decisions “as well as the sources of revenue to support such future infrastructure investments in the Commonwealth.”

Rafael Mares, vice president of Conservation Law Foundation Massachusetts, said CLF is pleased the governor is addressing “this critical policy issue” but hopes the administration will use the recommendations to lay out a more comprehensive vision for the state’s transportation networks.

“What is needed is a blueprint, a vision, for what our transportation system should look like. That has to be detailed and it has to take into account a lot of things that are going to be the focus of the commission,” like changes in climate technology, and the role of public transit, Mares said. “A vision like that needs to be detailed and it needs to have public input and it needs to be something that people can understand how long it will take to implement and how it will be implemented, including the sources of revenue that will be available.”

Ultimately, Mares said, residents and advocacy groups like CLF will be “focused on the results and the changes that happen on the ground.”

Chris Dempsey, the director of the coalition Transportation for Massachusetts, applauded the governor for creating the commission and tapping Transportation for Massachusetts members to serve on it. He said it will be important for Massachusetts to position itself at the leading edge of “the coming revolution in transportation.”

“We need to think differently about how we manage and fund all modes of travel, and imagine how innovation, sustainability, climate change, equity and other issues will impact statewide transportation decisions for the people of Massachusetts in twenty years,” Dempsey said in a statement.

The administration first announced it would create this transportation review commission in September, after the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation released a report that was critical of the state for not having an updated blueprint of how it is going to address transportation infrastructure and financing needs in the next decade, saying such a blueprint is needed given the advances in technology and climate change.

“There has not been a true transportation blueprint for the next decade that covers all modes of transportation across the entire commonwealth,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said when she first announced the idea for the commission on Sept. 27.

Meet the Author
The commission is expected to meet monthly, Baker’s office said, and has been given a Dec. 1 deadline to report on the analysis of members and make recommendations to the administration.

Pollack and Energy Secretary Matthew Beaton will serve on the commission as ex-officio members. In addition to Kadish, Baker also appointed Metropolitan Area Planning Council Deputy Director Rebecca Davis, New England Power Generators Association President Daniel Dolan, Nutonomy Vice President of the Global Partnerships Gretchen Effgen, Harvard University professor of urban planning and public policy José Gómez-Ibáñez, Union of Concerned Scientists President Kenneth Kimmell, Director of Transportation for CERES Carol Lee Rawn, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Eileen McAnneny, Worcester Regional Research Bureau Executive Director Timothy McGourthy, UMass Donahue Institute Director of Economic and Public Policy Research Dr, Mark Melnik, Senior Vice President of Global Public Policy for ChargePoint Colleen Quinn, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Karen Sawyer Conard, Pioneer Valley Transit Authority CEO Sandra Sheehan, ML Strategies Senior Vice President Stephen Silveira, McKinsey Managing Partner Navjot Singh, and Urban Strategy America Fund head Kirk Sykes. The members will not be paid.