Our Top 10 Stories of 2019

Supporters of a car-free replacement bridge hold up signs at a public hearing on the Northern Avenue Bridge project on June 3, 2019. Photo by Christian MilNeil.
Supporters of a car-free replacement bridge hold up signs at a public hearing on the Northern Avenue Bridge project on June 3, 2019. Photo by Christian MilNeil.

2019 was the debut year for StreetsblogMASS. Our readership has been growing steadily since we launched at the beginning of the summer, and we’ve had no shortage of stories to cover.

It’s an exciting time for transportation policy in Massachusetts: more elected officials and key decision-makers are coming to the realization that car-centric infrastructure is financially and environmentally ruinous, yet the same leaders sometimes can’t find the will to make the changes we need them to make. Reviewing our top stories of 2019, you’ll notice that several cover key debates – some of which have come to positive resolutions, some of which remain undecided – that illustrate how successful advocates can be when we come together and demand better from our political leadership.

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1: Drivers Lash Out As Bus Riders Sail Through Somerville

Our most-read story for the year covered motorists’ overblown ire over the redesign of Somerville’s Broadway through the Winter Hill neighborhood. A follow-up story published on Dec. 10 to cover a public hearing on the project and its accomplishments also ranked in our top 20 stories of the year.

2: City Embraces ‘People-First’ Design For Northern Ave. Bridge Replacement

The eye candy of the city’s new bridge renderings drew a lot of traffic from social media, but we like to think that Streetsblog readers were also eager for a feel-good story about one of the year’s more successful advocacy efforts.

3: MBTA ‘Rail Vision’ Comes Into Focus

This story (and its follow-up, in the number 5 position) gained nation-wide attention as transit advocates from all over clicked through to learn about the Boston region’s efforts to transform its commuter rail system into a regional mass transit network.

4: A Network of Rail-Trails Comes Together In Boston’s Suburbs

Massachusetts added a key section of the Mass. Central Rail Trail this summer, and many more are in the works. We’re looking forward to covering more trail ribbon-cuttings over the next few years.

5: MBTA Board Endorses Ambitious Slate of Upgrades For Commuter Rail System

6: A Rough Guide To Boston’s Allston/I-90 Megaproject

MassDOT’s plans for Allston are going to be a rich vein of Streetsblog stories over the next decade (or two?). In addition to this long overview of the plans, we also published a detailed look at MassDOT’s plans to build a “temporary” highway through the middle of the Charles River, and at the environmental review process that’s just getting underway now.

7: Amtrak Wants To Compete With Planes And Roads

A syndicated story from Streetsblog USA had many readers wondering whether Amtrak’s “operating profit” was really a meaningful benchmark for success.

8: Boston Officials Pitch New Bus-Priority Corridor Between North Station and Seaport

Could this become a signature bus priority corridor, or will it get subordinated to cars and stuck in traffic like the Silver Line? We’ll find out in 2020.

9: Why Is the T Trying to Turn an East Boston Rail Corridor Into a Private Roadway?

Spoiler alert: this plan didn’t fly, thanks to an outcry from Streetsblog readers.

10: MIT Study: High Fares Limit Low-Income Households’ Mobility

One of our earliest stories, from June 10, framed an ongoing conversation about whether fares hinder transit ridership – and whether transit agencies should bother asking riders for money at all.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

MBTA staff disinfect fare gates in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses in early March 2020. Courtesy of the MBTA.

Lawmakers Are Poised to Reform Fare Enforcement on the T

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In addition authorizing debt spending for hundreds of infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth, the multi-billion dollar bond package that the Massachusetts Senate passed earlier this month would also make significant reforms to how the MBTA enforces fare payments on its trains, buses, and ferries. The Commonwealth’s current fare evasion law sets large penalties for people […]