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Snow and Ice Are Big Disruptors of Public Transportation – March Poll Results

Thanks to our March poll (to vote in our current poll, visit: qryde.com/poll), we now know the most difficult whether condition for our readers is: SNOW (with ice coming in as a very close second place.) Being a Massachusetts-based transportation technology company, we get it! Nothing throws a monkey wrench into a perfectly good day like a snow storm, predicted or not. Public transit is no exception. Weather-related travel issues are especially difficult for people with disabilities. Snow removal required for wheelchairs and other devices isn’t the #1 priority in some areas.

According to this document put together by Easter Seals Project Action, even days after a storm, curb ramps and sidewalks are, very often, still quite impassable for those using mobility devices, pushing carts, or carriages. They have called upon the cities where the cold and inclement weather is most likely to occur to discuss, plan, and enact more “innovative” snow removal practices.

One of the examples in the Easter Seals report is Cambridge, MA. In Cambridge they have enacted an extremely aggressive snow removal enforcement campaign which include websites, mobile applications, and hotlines created to support their residents in snow removal – they even go as far as to encourage the reporting pathways that are not shoveled and/or icy! The removal plan in Cambridge combines city-funded removal of snow from pathways abutting public buildings, parks, open spaces, and high volume bus stops, with owner-enforced removal from less popular areas in front of their own properties. These efforts increase the ability for people who depend on pedestrian pathways and public transit to be able to return to work and get to important personal and medical appointments in a more timely manner following a storm.

Other suggestions include:

  • Thoughtful sidewalk and roadway design in order to help with future snow removal and maintenance
  • Requiring private association and business districts to take responsibility for clearing snow from pedestrian pathways and bus stops near their properties
  • Calling upon community action groups to conduct “snow audits” in an effort to make recommendations, with the hope of motivating key policy makers to both improve methods of snow removal practices for public areas as well as access to public transportation after a storm

The MBTA provides residents with these great recommendations for planning your winter commute with the caveat that, while it’s great to have a backup route or method of public transportation, there are times when the weather is simply so severe that even alternative routes are negatively impacted.

We welcome other thoughts and examples and we would love to include additional ideas in a follow-up post for the future. Feel free to email your thoughts to: katieh@hbssweb.com.

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