We are pleased to offer the fifth installment of our Spotlight series to highlight MPHA partners across the state who are changing lives and communities to improve health and advance health equity. Previously we showcased the work of Partners for a Healthier Community in Springfield, the Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council, the Greater Lowell Health Alliance, and the Montachusett Opportunity Council.
This month we interviewed Kristina Egan, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA).
“Transportation for Massachusetts is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing low-carbon transportation choices throughout the commonwealth. T4MA also works to ensure that the transportation system provides a path to economic opportunity for those without cars, like youth, seniors, and low-income residents. T4MA supports maintaining and growing an affordable and robust public transportation system, completing streets with bikeways and sidewalks, and developing walkable neighborhoods around transit.”
T4MA: In 2010, a diverse coalition of Bay State organizations that were working together to create safe, convenient, and affordable transportation choices for everyone in Massachusetts joined forces to create Transportation for Massachusetts. Our 40 members, including the Massachusetts Public Health Association, have expertise in transportation, affordable housing, social justice, public health, the environment, planning and smart growth.
MPHA: What’s something that Transportation for Massachusetts has done recently that you’re proud of?
T4MA: We’re especially proud of our work around the 2013 Transportation Finance Act, which is projected to raise an average of $600 million per year for critical transportation needs across the Commonwealth. It is critical that we invest in our public transportation, sidewalks and bikeways so that the state can solve the challenges we face in ways that will benefit our economy, our quality of life, and the environment. We saw an opportunity in 2013 to elevate transportation funding as a priority during the legislative session and we think the bill that resulted is a great first step towards make the investments we need to maintain and enhance our transportation network.
MPHA: Any advice for others who lead coalitions?
T4MA: Be bold! It’s critical that coalitions work the transformative levers that can change the game. Remember: A coalition’s power is that it has lots of organizations and people rowing in the same direction. Use that strength to make substantial changes on your important issues.
MPHA: What’s the biggest challenge in transportation advocacy these days?
T4MA: Even with the significant investments included in the Transportation Finance Act, the biggest challenge for us is the gap between the amount of funding and the needs of our transportation system. Not only do we need to repair and maintain the existing infrastructure, which has been neglected, but we also need to realize our vision for a modern, 21st century transportation system that not only allows our state to compete nationally and internationally, but also improves the health of our residents and contributes to solving the climate crisis.
MPHA: A year from now, what’s a headline you would like to see written about T4Mass’ accomplishments?
T4MA: “Transportation for Massachusetts Helps Beat Back Ballot Challenge that Threatened Public Safety.” This November, voters will decide whether to repeal some of the recently-won funding that will help keep our roads and bridges safe. (See www.SafeRoadsBridges.com, @VoteNoOnQ1) Another headline would be: ”Transportation for Massachusetts Paves the Way for Thoughtful and Wise Investments.” We’ve got to spend our transportation dollars in a manner that considers social justice, climate change, and public health. Our members will continue that push through the remainder of this year and beyond.
MPHA is a member organization of T4MA and MPHA Director of Policy and Communications, Maddie Ribble, serves on T4MA’s Executive Committee.