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Old 06-26-2013, 09:33 PM   #781
JumboBuc
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

It's a stupid little detail, but I love that the MBTA maps hanging on the walls of the stations in these renderings show the Green Line still ending at Lechmere.

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The "View Across Boston Ave." sells it for me. It might have been nice to work with the architects at Tufts to fully integrate the station into the campus, though. Or, you know, actually name it after the institution which is its whole reason to exist. BC, BU, Harvard and MIT get stations named for them, so what gives?
Northeastern's also got one, and BHCC pretty much does too.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:40 PM   #782
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

To continue on the toll tangent one post more, State Senator Michael Knapik (Westfield) was on the radio this morning and said that the State House was considering trying to get tolls on the NH and RI borders. He was speaking about it in reference to eastern MA legislators trying to bring back Western MA tolls, but I still say it could be a good way to help pay for transit projects in general.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:37 PM   #783
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

Every five or 10 years, this nonsense about tolls at the borders pops up.

It also came up during the Big Dig after everyone realized Jimmy K/Weld/Cellucci hid $10 billion or so of cost overruns and people figured the state was going to go bankrupt once D.C. turned off the spigot. Also had some MetroWest lawmakers begging for tolls at the Braintree split.

Border tolls will never happen because:

1. You're starting a border war. N.H. (on 93) and R.I. will retaliate with tolls of their own.

2. Good luck encouraging cross-border commerce.

3. I can't remember the last time tolls were added to a previously free, existing roadway. It's one thing to get people to pay for something new, it's another thing to get people to pay for something that's always been free (see the journalism business giving away all of its content on the Internets and now trying to put the genie back in the bottle).
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Old 06-28-2013, 09:38 PM   #784
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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3. I can't remember the last time tolls were added to a previously free, existing roadway. It's one thing to get people to pay for something new, it's another thing to get people to pay for something that's always been free (see the journalism business giving away all of its content on the Internets and now trying to put the genie back in the bottle).
Thanks to Bush, a dozen highway added toll lanes over the past decade.
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Old 07-01-2013, 06:09 AM   #785
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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2. Good luck encouraging cross-border commerce.
Admittedly, I have no experience with the business side of things, but do tolls really discourage regular people from traveling on a particular road? I've never once considered "Oh, this trip would have tolls, I should go elsewhere."
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Old 07-01-2013, 07:43 AM   #786
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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Admittedly, I have no experience with the business side of things, but do tolls really discourage regular people from traveling on a particular road? I've never once considered "Oh, this trip would have tolls, I should go elsewhere."
Yes. People are "fully" influenced by tolls and do make the tradeoff between paid and free, even if they aren't really aware of it. Its how congestion pricing works

And, and like you, people will say in surveys that they don't think tolls affected their behavior (they don't like them, but they also don't feel like they chose to avoid them).

There was a city (can anyone remember which one?) where tolls went on, went off (through some legal fluke), and went back on again in a period of weeks--not long enough for any permanent commuting changes.

When tolls came off, there was immediate congestion on the suddenly-free roads. When tolls went back on the congestion disappeared. There were huge, immediate changes in commuting and congestion patterns. The cool/strange thing was that in surveys nobody admitted to changing their behavior based on the tolls before or after! (People said the tolls had no effect on them, yet the amount of traffic impact was huge).

It might be hard to see in yourself, but two things make the effects of tolls easier to see:
1) How regular car commuters choose
2) How people chose the untolled route.

Things like:
Not using the Sumner or Ted Willams in the "tolled" direction to get home, even though you got the the airport via a "free" tunnel. It pushes at least folks from Medford to go to the airport via the City and home via Chelsea.

Traffic increased at the Pike & Rte 16 when the tolls came off at just that one location--both traditional non-Pike users choosing to use the pike because they knew it was free there, and Pike users changing their patterns because they could now use the Pike/16 intersection for "free"

Tolls do change behavior.

Last edited by Arlington; 07-01-2013 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:02 AM   #787
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

For commuting behavior, absolutely tolls affect behavior. But wouldn't border tolls be implemented more to collect revenue from tourist travel? That's the kind of behavior I don't think would change because of border tolls.
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Old 07-01-2013, 12:31 PM   #788
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

Lots of people commute across those borders.
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Old 07-01-2013, 12:41 PM   #789
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

At least for Boston, it would probably affect commuting behavior in a "good" way (deincentivize living in NH/RI and commuting to Boston).
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:22 PM   #790
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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At least for Boston, it would probably affect commuting behavior in a "good" way (deincentivize living in NH/RI and commuting to Boston).
... or, it will cause all the jobs to move to NH and RI, where land is cheaper and taxes (at least in NH) are lower.
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:30 PM   #791
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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... or, it will cause all the jobs to move to NH and RI, where land is cheaper and taxes (at least in NH) are lower.
By that argument, all the jobs would have moved out of the city already. Have you seen the prices lately?!

The reason why commercial real-estate in the city is expensive is because it's highly desirable. Some businesses may be able to exist hermit-like and isolated, and they probably already moved out. But many businesses depend upon being in close proximity to commerce and people, and that's why cities exist in the first place.

So no, I'm not at all worried about "jobs moving out to NH or RI." Because that's an empty threat, based on what we know about human experience and civilized history.
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:54 PM   #792
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

I wonder if there are numbers for people who live in MA and commute to NH. I suspect it's close to zero.
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Old 07-01-2013, 03:46 PM   #793
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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... or, it will cause all the jobs to move to NH and RI, where land is cheaper and taxes (at least in NH) are lower.
So, is your argument that there will be this critical mass of people living in NH and working for (say) Liberty Mutual in Boston that will demand Liberty Mutual move to NH so that they don't have to pay tolls? And Liberty Mutual (or whoever) will have no choice but to acquiesce. Is that what we're saying?
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Old 07-01-2013, 04:32 PM   #794
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

I'd say that such things are more akin to the example of tolls altering traffic patterns cited above: not enough to make a gigantic difference, but enough to tip the balance in already key areas. The key difference, of course, would be that additional burdens on business would lead to a gradual change, at least at first, due to sheer economic momentum.

As various costs on businesses go up in MA, niche businesses particularly impacted by the increased costs, or those operating at low margins to begin with, are more likely to migrate to a more cost-friendly locale. That might not be enough to tip the balance, but it strengthens the economic environment overall in NH, and makes said environment more enticing to those that come after.

Or, to use the old Hemingway quip: "How did you become bankrupt?" "Two ways: Gradually, then suddenly."
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Old 07-01-2013, 04:35 PM   #795
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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So, is your argument that there will be this critical mass of people living in NH and working for (say) Liberty Mutual in Boston that will demand Liberty Mutual move to NH so that they don't have to pay tolls? And Liberty Mutual (or whoever) will have no choice but to acquiesce. Is that what we're saying?
Ummm.... that's precisely why businesses moved from Boston and Cambridge to 128, and from the center of most if not all American cities to office parks in the suburbs. Their employees had moved out there and didn't want to commute in. It's not about whether the toll adds a huge expense to their monthly budgets, but whether (as you all were arguing on the last page of this thread) the difference between "free" and "not free" makes enough difference to people psychologically for them to irrationally change their behavior, and it does.

I'm not arguing that Boston will lose jobs to NH and RI, I'm arguing that businesses along the Route 3 corridor - which I know from personal experience have significant commuter blocks from Nashua and its environs - will relocate to cheaper office parks along 93 and the Everett Turnpike. MA has driven the employees there already with high taxes, and the toll (which would function as a MA tax on living in NH, in addition to the high income taxes already levied on those folks) might make the difference for some businesses.

I'm not as personally familiar with the situation on the South Shore with regard to RI. It may or may not be similar. In any case, from the state's perspective jobs lost along 3 and 93 are as important as those lost in Cambridge and Boston.

Charging a tax on people from NH commuting to jobs in Burlington so that the City of Boston and it's immediate suburbs can have a new light rail line simply isn't sound statewide policy.
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Old 07-01-2013, 04:55 PM   #796
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

Since we are talking about the budget (which in term relates to the funding for GLX and other projects). This seems relevant.

http://www.wbur.org/2013/06/05/infog...spending-plans

We are currently arguing the pros and cons - how true or not true at funding strategies to our infrastructure. We are arguing tolls as a way to fund this infrastructure with debate can it lead to unintended consequences to the private corporations (and thus our employers and also major source of tax revenue).

Yet, I'm still trying to figure out why we are so short through our current funding. Look at budget, 42.93% of our current budget is going to health care while 4.81% is infrastructure. I have to wonder how much it would hurt (or gain) if we focus on just priorities. 1 total percent from health care towards infrasture, it looks like a lot of bang of the buck. It sure a seems 1% increase to 5.81% sure seems a small percent with claims to big effects (currently advocated by some kind of increase revenue), while I'm not sure if 42.93% versus 41.93% means that much to our health care system.
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Old 07-01-2013, 05:06 PM   #797
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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Since we are talking about the budget (which in term relates to the funding for GLX and other projects). This seems relevant.

http://www.wbur.org/2013/06/05/infog...spending-plans

We are currently arguing the pros and cons - how true or not true at funding strategies to our infrastructure. We are arguing tolls as a way to fund this infrastructure with debate can it lead to unintended consequences to the private corporations (and thus our employers and also major source of tax revenue).
I still don't see why there's such an aversion to gas taxes. I'd raise 'em (and offer some kind of earned income credit (EITC) to make it less regressive on low income people who drive to work....but it would also serve to encourage transit)

Between an EITC aimed at workers and mass transit for the even-lower-income folks, it seems like good progressive politics. (I say this as someone who doesn't think of himself as particularly progressive) Also I'd start trimming the perks of electric cars...last I saw, they take up just as much road as "regular" cars and tend to be driven by rich people.

And then, yes, I'd improve transit and do some showy road upgrades to show we're serious about quality infrastructure.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:12 PM   #798
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

The aversion to higher gas taxes is due in large part to the perception (not inaccurate) that the drivers are not getting their money's worth.

Further, many people oppose raising the gas taxes in order to pay for non-road matters, such as the T.

Additionally, there's another annoyance in the desire to raise gas taxes to make up for the revenues lost to higher fuel efficiency cars (in other words, the government was doing everything it could to get people into gas sippers, and, once they did, the government decided that that was bad for its bottom line).

Finally, and most importantly, people are kinda ticked at the idea of connecting the gas tax to inflation.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:59 PM   #799
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

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Additionally, there's another annoyance in the desire to raise gas taxes to make up for the revenues lost to higher fuel efficiency cars (in other words, the government was doing everything it could to get people into gas sippers, and, once they did, the government decided that that was bad for its bottom line).
I don't see how owners of gas sippers should be annoyed at that: Higher taxes would continue to be a good way to encourage further gas sipping, and reward the shift to higher economy cars....the more efficient your come becomes, the less per mile traveled you pay (can't do that with tolls).

As it is, people are nowadays paying less per mile driven (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than they have in a looong time (a fixed excise has lost buying power at the same time that people are using fewer gallons per mile).
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:21 PM   #800
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Re: Green Line to Medford to start in 2011

If you don't connect the gas excise tax to inflation, then it simply depletes in value. How many people are pissed that the sales (use) tax is a percentage? They may not like taxes but have you ever seen anyone argue against the percentage nature of it?

And the mistake in the first place was ever promising that gas taxes would only fund road infrastructure. That's like promising that cigarette taxes would only fund tobacco growers. Gas tax should be a Pigouvian tax that pays for the external costs imposed on communities from the operation of gasoline powered vehicles, and it should be used to discourage wasteful pollution. The fact that it encourages the use of higher fuel efficiency cars is a feature.
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