The largest portion of Massachusetts' greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, and these emissions are still currently rising. Raising revenue for equitable investment in clean transportation solutions is a key integral strategy to addressing this, and increasingly, local and state governments are committing to address this. For example, Massachusetts has joined Washington D.C. and eight other Northeast & Mid-Atlantic states in announcing the development of a region-wide policy to create a modern, sustainable transportation system. This means a system that facilitates the move past fossil-fueled cars and buses, and prioritizing and investing in cars, trucks, and buses with zero tailpipe pollution; reliable zero emission mass transit that provides alternatives to driving; and safe walking and biking paths that revitalize neighborhoods. Read more about this regional plan here.

Strategies to Reduce Transportation Pollution

Reducing pollution from transportation can be achieved with two main strategies. The first big strategy is mode shift, or in other words, changing the way we move people and goods and ultimately reducing “vehicle miles traveled.” Achieving mode shift at scale requires thoughtful land-use strategies, strategic community planning, and wise investment in transportation options. With proper planning and investment, it can become easy and seamless to move in between cities and around town without a vehicle. The second big strategy is reducing carbon content of fuels by increasing the fuel efficiency of our current vehicles and shifting to vehicles that run on sustainable fuel sources. (Efforts by the Trump Administration to roll back fuel economy standards would be disastrous for clean air and climate policy; Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg was one of eleven state environmental directors to sign a letter to the EPA opposing this move.)

Mode Shift & Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled

    • Expanding Rail

      • Create a statewide & regional rail network including projects such as the North South Rail Link, South Coast rail, year-round daily Cape service, the Berkshire Flyer, and Boston-Springfield-Pittsfield service. Coordinate with neighboring states to make efficient regional rail networks.

      • Link and coordinate rail service with the bus services of state Regional Transit Authorities.

      • Expand freight rail to reduce trucking on overcrowded highways

    • The MBTA

      • Make commuter rail inside Boston part of the transit system, especially for underserved areas. This includes more stations, more frequent service, and fare levels equal to the subway. Projects include West Station in Brighton and the Fairmount Line.

      • Green Line Extension to Medford.

      • Connect the Red Line to the Blue Line.

      • Significantly increase the use of electric buses. 19 mayors urged the MBTA to electrify its 1,000+ bus fleet.

      • Electrify commuter rail. The MBTA is the only commuter rail system on the Northeast Corridor without any electrified service.

      • Invest in the MBTA to increase reliability, capacity, and access.

For more projects and more detail, see our comments on MBTA Focus40.

    • Walkable and Bikeable Streets

      • Invest in infrastructure improvements that allow safe options to bike and walk between destinations. 


Reduce Carbon Content - Fuel Efficiency and Sustainable Fuels:

Here is a simple fact - there is no renewable version of petroleum.  Electrifying our vehicles and transit systems is a key solution to reducing dependence on oil and moving to a truly sustainable transportation system. 

Click here to visit our Electric Vehicles page.

Click here to visit our Electric Bus page.

Click here to learn more about Sierra Club’s work to fight dirty oil and promote Clean Transportation For All.