Spotlight: Transportation as a Social Determinant of Health – Why Transportation is a Public Health Issue

Access to affordable, convenient transportation plays a crucial role in public health. The cost and time required for daily travel between home, work, school, daycare, and groceries greatly impacts the quality of life for us all. Those who can afford it live where getting around is easier. Those who cannot afford it face long commutes, crowded buses, and often miss out on life-improving opportunities that they simply can’t get to on a reliable basis. A robust, affordable, and reliable transit system means better access to education and jobs, recreational and after-school activities, healthier food options, health care facilities, as well as friends and family.

With better public transit and fewer individual automobiles on the road, asthma and other respiratory conditions improve because emissions decrease. Access to affordable public transit also increases physical activity, since there is almost always walking or biking associated with taking a bus or train.  These are the reasons why MPHA works to keep public transportation affordable, while we also strive to make it much better. In the coming months, MPHA will be involved in campaigns to improve transportation in communities throughout the Commonwealth. Stay tuned on how you can help improve access to transportation in the short term, mid-term and long-term.

How can you help? Join the Campaign to Stop Inequitable Fare Increases. The MBTA Fiscal Management & Control Board has proposed 7% to 23% increases on the various subway and bus fares. Such increases have the hardest impact on low-income residents and people of color. You can help by taking action by February 12, 2016:

See MPHA Action Alert for talking points and more information.

For a longer-term fix, we’ll later be asking for your help to pass the Fair Share Constitutional Amendment.  This statewide effort would create an additional tax of four percentage points on annual income above $1 million which would create about $1.5 billion, annually, to be invested in key social determinants of health–transportation and public education. Look for updates on how you can help to advance this important campaign.

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