Poll: Mass. residents will travel solo, take fewer trips even as economy reopens

Massachusetts

MASSACHUSETTS (WPRI) — A new poll suggests that even as the economy reopens across the United States, Massachusetts residents are planning fewer trips in the near future.

The poll was conducted by the MassINC Polling Group and sponsored by the Barr Foundation. A total of 1,478 people were surveyed from May 5-13, about a week before restrictions started to be lifted in Massachusetts.

As we approach summer, usually a time for vacations with family or friends, those polled said they’d prefer to travel alone, either by car or walking.

In all, 35% of residents said they will ride the MBTA subway less than before, with 33% saying the same about the commuter rail.

Among the most frequent public transit users, 44% said they will ride the subway less and 45% expect to drive more. The poll noted young people and Boston residents are among the groups indicating the biggest increases in driving.

The poll asked people for potential reasons they would be changing their travel patterns.

One big change could involve workers who stop commuting altogether. Of the 1,478 surveyed, 41% of employed residents said they would prefer to work from home even after the state reopens.

Another concern of those polled was the coronavirus itself, with 64% saying it was the most important issue facing state government.

Because of the virus, only about quarter of residents polled said they would feel very (10%) or somewhat (16%) comfortable riding transit during peak times, like rush hours. During off-peak times, the poll found that figure rose to 43%.

The poll also found the majority of people said they would be at least somewhat comfortable riding if transit agencies adopted precautions like requiring masks, installing hand-sanitizer dispensers, and limiting the number of passengers allowed on vehicles and platforms.

The MBTA says stations and vehicles are being cleaned and sanitized more frequently, and as of May 6, all riders and employees have to wear a face covering while riding the T.

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