clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What will be the big changes in Boston traffic and transportation after coronavirus?

New, 5 comments

Might congestion thin—or increase as more people take to cars rather than mass transit? That’s a big question

Empty city streets. Boston Globe via Getty Images

On the day before Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, a report came out underscoring once again how awful Boston-area traffic can be.

Boston had the worst traffic congestion in the United States in 2019 and the second worst in North America, behind only Mexico City, according to an annual ranking from research firm and mobility consultancy INRIX released on March 9.

What’s more, Boston drivers lost an average of 149 hours stuck in traffic in 2019, and forfeited $2,205 on average in lost productivity because of it, the highest total for any domestic city tracked.

Of course, the coronavirus and the subsequent closure of businesses that the state deemed nonessential took many, many people off the region’s roadways—and off its mass transit system for that matter. Almost overnight, congested arteries such as the Massachusetts Turnpike, Route 1A, and the Fresh Pond Parkway all but emptied out as people transitioned quickly to working from home. What’s more, T and commuter rail ridership dropped sharply.

That has led to plenty of speculation about what effects the pandemic could leave behind in terms of transit and traffic in Greater Boston. Will remote working and telecommuting stick around to the extent that it alleviates the region’s cartoonishly bad congestion? Will the effects cause a rethink in the area’s relationship to cars in general (a rethink that was already underway pre-pandemic)? Are we looking at different bus routes and train schedules based on what we’re seeing now? Will bikes be even bigger at the other end of this?

We’re opening the floor to the people who would know best: the riders and the drivers of the Boston area. Sound off in the comments below or on social media.