News / 10.24.19

Kendall Square employers ADVANCE toward better transportation

The Broad Institute has joined a new working group charged with collaborating on creative solutions for employee transportation challenges.


The Broad Institute has joined a new working group of 19 Kendall Square employers charged with collaborating on creative solutions for employee transportation challenges. The working group is part of the Kendall Square Association (KSA)’s Transportation ADVANCE initiative, which seeks to lead on transportation through action. 

“Between train derailments, service interruptions, and aging transportation infrastructure, the business community has faced significant transit challenges over the course of 2019,” the KSA said in a press release. “With a $150,000 grant from the Barr Foundation and contributions from working group companies, KSA’s Transportation ADVANCE will use an experimental model that engages and empowers employees to be a part of creating solutions.”

The working group convenes leaders in the innovation economy, including Biogen, Google, and MIT, to create experiments, run pilots, and collect data. Chief Development and External Relations Officer Justine Levin-Allerhand will represent the Broad Institute in the working group. Justine sees the working group, and the Broad’s participation in it, as an important step for the Broad’s future success. 

“We're proud to have contributed to Kendall Square's development as an epicenter of innovation during the last 15 years — even as that development has overburdened our aging transportation infrastructure," says Justine. “It's fitting, and urgent, for us to help find solutions for Kendall Square's transit challenges using the same spirit of innovation that's helped us grow our presence here so rapidly. To continue to thrive as an institute, we need to ensure that the commute to Kendall Square doesn’t get in the way of attracting or retaining top talent, adversely affect Broadies’ stress levels or work-life balance, or cause us to make unhealthy or environmentally unsound commuting choices.”

“Massachusetts’ transportation system is in crisis”

In July 2019, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) surveyed more than 2,100 professionals who work in or support the life sciences to study the current state of transportation in Massachusetts and how it may be impacting the industry’s ability to recruit and retain talent.  The survey found that majorities of commuters who use public transit or drive alone are experiencing worse commutes than they were in the past — bad enough that over 60 percent of all respondents would consider changing jobs for a better commute. (Read the full report.)

“Massachusetts’ transportation system is in crisis,” said MassBio President & CEO Robert K. Coughlin in a cover letter to the survey data. “It has the potential to negatively impact our state’s economic growth. We, as employers and as a leading industry, can make an immediate impact.”

Coughlin went on to urge MassBio members to enact policies that ease workers’ commutes, such as remote work and flexible hours. But he acknowledged that such policies aren’t feasible for every employer or every employee. Among the aims of the Transportation ADVANCE initiative are ameliorating the issues of equity and inclusion that arise from unreliable transit.

Speaking out for a better transportation system is not just about safeguarding our creative and economic success,” the KSA said in a 2018 Medium post announcing the Transportation ADVANCE initiative. “It’s also about making sure we make it as fair and accessible as possible for all the workers who make their livelihoods and contribute to our economy.”

Rapid improvement of commuter transit is of particular importance for Broad employees, who live a median distance of four miles from the Broad campus, and who commute by car at a lower rate than the general MassBio community. Broadies who receive Broad-issued CharlieCards or commuter rail passes outnumber Broadies who receive a monthly parking benefit nearly two to one. In contrast, a majority of MassBio survey respondents say they drive to work alone. See “By the numbers,” below, for more facts and figures about Broadies’ commuting habits and how we stack up to the life sciences community at large.

What would make your commute better? What priorities do you hope the working group will tackle? Tell us in the comments.