Glossary is organized in alphabetical order.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): Accessory dwelling units are additional living spaces on single-family lots that are separate from the primary dwelling unit (Source). ADU’s provide flexibility for homeowners, keep seniors in their communities, and help keep families together, while adding needed rental units to the community (Source).
Congestion in Massachusetts: In 2019, Boston was named the most congested city in the United States (Source). During the pandemic, traffic levels dropped significantly, however, Boston was still the 4th most congested city in the U.S. (Source). Since then, congestion appears to have returned to 2019 levels (Source).
Debt-based license suspensions + incarcerations: This is the harmful practice of suspending a person’s driver’s license or incarcerating them for unpaid debts, like parking tickets or indigent counsel fees. This practice criminalizes poverty and reinforces the cycle of debt and incarceration. States and counties that have eliminated debt-based license penalties have seen no negative impact on debt collection. Suspending or revoking someone’s driver’s license restricts their mobility, which only makes it harder for that person to pay their debts. (Source)
Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR): DCR manages state parks and oversees more than 450,000 acres throughout Massachusetts (Source). In addition to parks, DCR also manages adjoining roadways, e.g. parkways throughout the State—which often lack key safety measures like slow speed limits and safe pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure (Source).
E-bike rebates: Offering rebates for purchasing electric bicycles (similar to what the state already does for Electric Vehicles) would make e-bikes more affordable and accessible to would-be riders. MassINC Polling Group found that 68% of Massachusetts residents support e-bike rebates (Source). E-bikes have numerous benefits including giving riders the ability to make longer bike trips and carry heavier loads (Source).
East-West Passenger Rail Study: "The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is conducting a study to examine the costs, benefits, and investments necessary to implement passenger rail service from Boston to Springfield and Pittsfield, with the speed, frequency, and reliability necessary to be a competitive option for travel along this corridor. The study will assess up to six alternatives, which will feature a range of approaches including high speed rail and potential infill stations." (Source)
Electrification of the MBTA Commuter Rail: According to a report released last year from TransitMatters, “The MBTA could electrify its commuter rail network for between $800 million and $1.5 billion”. Electrification has numerous benefits, including “decreas[ing] trip times, improv[ing] operating expenditures, and reduc[ing] the carbon footprint of transportation, both by removing local pollution from the rail network and making transit competitive with single occupancy vehicles". (Source)
Executive Order 215: Massachusetts Executive Order 215 gives the Governor and their administration the ability to withhold discretionary development funds from communities that are unreasonably restrictive of new housing. (Source)
Free-fare pilots in Massachusetts: The COVID-19 pandemic forced many buses to run without collecting fares, in order to allow riders to more safely distance and board at the front and back doors. Since then, some Regional Transit Authorities have remained fare free, and free bus pilots are gaining momentum across the state.
On March 1, 2022, the City of Boston started a fare-free bus pilot on the 28, 23, and 29 buses that will run for the next two years, and expansion from the initial pilot on the 28 that began in August 2021.
- Results from the first four months of the Boston Route 28 fare-free bus pilot are out.
- Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) has had fare-free service since the beginning of the pandemic, and now they've extended it to the end of 2022.
- The Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority (MVRTA) started a 2-year fare-free pilot that began on March 1, 2022.
- The Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) voted to offer fare-free bus service through June 30, 2022.
Low-Income Fare Program: A 2019 MIT study of low-income fares showed that participating riders took 30% more transit trips—and that these trips increased during off peak times for social services and that riders made more transfers among modes (bus to subway to another bus) (Source). According to the MassINC Polling Group, nearly 80% of Bay Staters across the Commonwealth want to see a low-income fare program move forward (Source).
MBTA Board of Directors: The MBTA Board of Directors replaced the Fiscal & Management Control Board. It consists of seven members, including the Secretary of Transportation and one member with municipal government experience. The rest are appointed by the Governor, and they include a rider and resident of an environmental justice population, and a person recommended by the President of the AFL-CIO (The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations). (Source)
Mode: The type of transportation a person uses, for example traveling via car, bus, train, bike, walking, etc.
Mode shift: Mode shift refers to making the switch from driving as a main form of transportation to methods like biking, walking, or public transit. (Source)
Multi-Family Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities: This new law requires that each of the 175 MBTA communities need to have at least one zoning district where multi-family housing of at least 15 units per acre is permitted as-of-right (Source). The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is currently in the process of finalizing guidelines governing how the law is implemented (Source). This is a legal requirement for these communities to comply with on their own, and the three state grant programs being used as an enforcement mechanism may not be large enough to ensure broad compliance (Source). This regulation will be key to creating affordable housing near public transportation options, however some communities have expressed resistance to this law and without proper mechanisms of enforcement, some communities may choose not to comply.
North-South Rail Link: The North–South Rail Link (NSRL) is a proposed electrified rail tunnel that would connect North Station and South Station and allow commuter rail trains to run through. (Source)
Optional Transfer Fee: The proposed transfer fee for real estate purchases in Massachusetts would allow municipalities to opt-in to enabling a tax between 0.5-2% on high-end real estate deals, which would go toward funding housing relief. There is currently a local option bill before the legislature that would allow cities and towns to adopt this fee within certain parameters (Source), as well as various home rule petitions for communities including Boston and Nantucket. (Source, Source)
Pretextual Traffic Stops: In a pretextual stop, a police officer detains someone for a minor traffic or equipment violation, such as an expired registration tag, as an excuse to investigate the motorist for another reason for which there is no legal basis to stop them. Pretextual stops also provide legal cover for racial profiling and contribute to disparate police surveillance, harassment, and arrests of Black and brown people. Proponents of pretextual stops claim that establishing a highly visible police presence in certain neighborhoods through frequent stops will deter crime in that area. However, not only do pretextual stops funnel Black and brown residents into the criminal justice system and erode trust in law enforcement and government, they are not proven to improve public safety. (Source, Source)
Regional Ballot Initiatives (RBIs): A number of states use Regional Ballot Initiatives to create local funding opportunities for transportation improvement projects. Enabling municipalities to put forward RBIs would give them the ability to raise funds for local transportation projects, and give voters a more direct role in the process. (Source, Source)
Regional Rail: Regional rail in Massachusetts would mean rail service from Boston to Gateway Cities, suburban, and rural areas that has a zero-emission operating model and would have high frequency service throughout the day, although slightly increased services may be provided during rush-hour. More generally, regional rail is less oriented around bringing commuters to the urban centers, although this may generate part of the traffic on some systems. Learn more about what Regional Rail would mean for Massachusetts from TransitMatters here. (Source, Source)
Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs): There are 15 Regional Transit Authorities in Massachusetts that serve the 55% of Massachusetts residents living outside the MBTA service area. RTAs serve urban, suburban, and rural areas across the state. Full list of RTAs can be found here. RTAs are critical, yet have been chronically under-resourced (Source).
Rent Control: Rent control is a general term used to describe laws that regulate rent increases. Massachusetts banned rent control/rent regulation by ballot initiative in 1994. The term "rent control" may refer to law/regulations that prohibit and year-over-year rent increases, or may refer to "rent stabilization" systems that allow for limited rent increases, usually no more than the cost of inflation and capital improvements. (Source, Source).
Reports on traffic safety + issues of law enforcement’s role: Traffic stops are the most common form of contact between civilians and the police. A recent investigation from the New York Times found that in the last five years, police officers killed more than 400 people during traffic stops who were not armed and were not under pursuit for a violent crime. In addition to the obvious harms caused, there is growing evidence that traffic stops do not meaningfully reduce serious and fatal crashes. A report that used data from the Stanford Open Policing Project and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to study 33 state patrols found no association between traffic stops and death rates from crashes (Source). Read the following recent reports:
- Dismantling Law Enforcement’s Role in Traffic Safety: A Roadmap for Massachusetts
- An Analysis of Racial Disparities in Police Traffic Stops in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, from 2010 to 2019
Retrofitting housing: According to a report released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, “upgrading homes with thick insulation, thorough air sealing, efficient heat pumps, and other measures can more than halve their energy use and planet-warming emissions, offering a win-win opportunity to improve residents’ comfort, lower their utility bills, and address the climate crisis” (Source). This is especially important given how old housing stock is in Massachusetts (Source).
Subsidies for Electric Vehicles: State and Federal programs enable those who purchase electric vehicles to be eligible for a rebate and a federal tax credit (Source). A recent analysis has demonstrated that many EV subsidies go to residents in the wealthiest zip codes in Massachusetts, leaving out those who may not be able to afford a new electric vehicle, or don’t own a car or drive. (Source)
Supportive Housing: Supportive Housing is a state program that combines housing with services for older adults and people with disabilities, in order to provide resources and care (Source).
Tenant Option to Purchase Act (TOPA): TOPA would give municipalities the ability to enable the transfer of property ownership into the hands of tenants and affordable housing developers by enabling tenants to exercise a first right of purchase. Landlords would be required to give notice to tenants, and then allow a specified amount of time for tenants to express interest, make an offer, and secure funding. Some programs also enable a local non-profit to be designated as an agent of the municipality, so that if tenants cannot purchase the units themselves, the non-profit is also given an opportunity to purchase and keep it affordable (Source)
Transitional Housing: Transitional housing is temporary housing provided for unhoused people while transitioning residents into permanent, affordable housing (Source).
Transportation Network Company fees: TNC fees would increase per ride fees on transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft to put fees in line with other municipalities around the country while dedicating the revenue to municipalities, the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, the MBTA, and RTAs. Learn more here.