New Survey of Boston Area Professionals: Public Transportation is Unreliable & Continuing to Get Worse

Written by

Matt George

Partner, Head of Research

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Affordability Remains Constant; Perceived Safety, Convenience, and Reliability Have all Fallen in the Last Six Months

Boston area professionals continue to voice frustration with what is seen as an increasingly unreliable public transportation system, according to the latest poll conducted by Seven Letter, a bipartisan, full-service strategic communications firm, in partnership with the Boston Business Journal. The survey of 165 Boston area professionals follows a poll conducted on the same topic in September 2022, and is the sixth in a series of polls examining views on issues including workplace benefits, COVID-19 policies and expectations as they relate to office space.

While perceived affordability has remained stable over the last six months (75% view area public transportation as “affordable”), measures on safety, convenience and reliability have all fallen. Only 24% of respondents characterized area public transportation as reliable, falling 22% over the last six months. While perceptions on safety and convenience are more favorable, (69% and 59% respectively), both measures have also fallen over the last six months (-17% and -12%, respectively). Furthermore, 72% of respondents feel that the problem has gotten worse in the last six months, up 15% since the last survey.

This lack of reliability continues to negatively impact local businesses. More than half of respondents (55%) cite poor reliability as negatively impacting their business’s ability to attract and retain quality employees. While 42% say lack of reliability has negatively impacted their business’s ability to succeed.

“The Boston business community has a significant challenge on its hands,” said Seven Letter Partner and Head of Research Matt George. “What is clear from this survey, is that not only do Boston area professionals feel personal frustration with public transportation issues, but those issues are continuing to worsen and more negatively impact the health of local businesses.”

Individual grades of public transportation options fell over this time period as well. Again, the “T” came in last, earning an average of “D” from area professionals, down from a “C-“, with the public bus system narrowly edging it out with a “C-”, down from a “C”. Commuter rail fell as well, down to a “C” from a “B-“ from respondents. Even the local bike and scooter share, which had previously earned a “B+” average from professionals, was down to a “C+”.

Again, perhaps most concerning for area officials, 84% of respondents feel that the Boston area has worse public transportation options than other major metropolitan cities, with 61% saying that local options are MUCH worse than what you might find in other cities.“This survey should serve as an alarm bell for local officials,” said Doug Banks, Executive Editor of the Boston Business Journal. “Perceptions of Greater Boston’s local transit system were concerning six months ago, and they’re only getting worse. The strength of the local business community depends heavily not only on a safe and reliable public transportation system, but also on one that is perceived as such.”