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Old 12-05-2012, 04:04 PM   #41
Shepard
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

Kmp - I demand proof of your boundless wealth and casper skin tone via timestamped pic with personalized message to Ab.

Otherwise I suspect you're a gay black teenager living on his mothers sofa in the projects with nothing to do all day but troll here.
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Old 12-05-2012, 04:44 PM   #42
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

There are problems with congestion pricing. They have nothing to do with the economic theory of it. This thread contains lots of confused people, on both sides.

First off, civil liberties. In order to do it properly, it would need to apply to all roads, not just interstates. Otherwise you're just going to push traffic to secondary roads. The only way of accomplishing this in practice is by ubiquitous government surveillance of some kind, whether through GPS or other means.

Secondly, in order for it to be nimble enough to work, pricing would need to set administratively, so the barriers to price increases would be very low. And, inevitably, administrators would be squeezed between institutional incentives to maximize revenue and political pressure to keep pricing low. You'd get the worst of both worlds. Some level of pricing during the 18+ hours per day when the roadway is below maximum throughput, and not-high-enough pricing during peak hours.

But let's be reality-based here: if you set aside civil liberties concerns, and it if were administered by some incorruptible benevolent dictator, such a scheme would increase actual economic welfare of the people of this state significantly. Maximum vehicle throughput occurs between 45 and 65 mph. The goal of the scheme would be to make sure speeds never fall below 45 mph during the ~4-6 hours a day where that can occur.

So it would allow more cars to come into the city. Get it? This is why it boggles my mind that urbanists/ped/bicyclist groups favor such a plan so much. Its purpose is to increase vehicle operating speeds during peak hours and maximize roadway throughput, allowing more cars to enter the city.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:57 PM   #43
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

Quote:
First off, civil liberties. In order to do it properly, it would need to apply to all roads, not just interstates. Otherwise you're just going to push traffic to secondary roads. The only way of accomplishing this in practice is by ubiquitous government surveillance of some kind, whether through GPS or other means.
You don't need "ubiquitous" surveillance. You just need to know if people cross into Boston during a time when the toll is active. This need be no more intrusive than the FastPass lanes at the A/B tolls.
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Secondly, in order for it to be nimble enough to work, pricing would need to set administratively, so the barriers to price increases would be very low. And, inevitably, administrators would be squeezed between institutional incentives to maximize revenue and political pressure to keep pricing low. You'd get the worst of both worlds. Some level of pricing during the 18+ hours per day when the roadway is below maximum throughput, and not-high-enough pricing during peak hours.
You talk about congestion pricing like it's some theoretical construct. As if it's 1930 and we're discussing whether or not the atom can be split. Spoiler alert: congestion pricing has been successfully implemented in Europe and Asia.

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So it would allow more cars to come into the city. Get it? This is why it boggles my mind that urbanists/ped/bicyclist groups favor such a plan so much. Its purpose is to increase vehicle operating speeds during peak hours and maximize roadway throughput, allowing more cars to enter the city.
Urbanists don't hate cars for the sake of hating cars (at least I don't). Most of us hate the externalities cars cause. Gridlock, smog caused by idling in traffic, parking lots, the need to increase road capacity to keep up with PEAK demand, etc. By leveling out traffic levels you reduce all of those things.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:15 PM   #44
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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You don't need "ubiquitous" surveillance. You just need to know if people cross into Boston during a time when the toll is active. This need be no more intrusive than the FastPass lanes at the A/B tolls.
If it's that simplistic, it's useless. Roads, neighborhoods, and areas around Boston are at various levels of capacity and must be priced differently in order for this to be at all helpful. And if you price the interstates but not the secondary roads and minor arterials you're going to drive traffic congestion up in those places and negate most if not all of the gains you made. And if you price the secondary roads and minor arterials you're getting a lot closer to an ubiquitous surveillance society, but without the efficiency gains you would get from direct GPS tracking.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:29 PM   #45
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

If it works in London, I don't see why it wouldn't work in Boston. In fact, more communities in London are petitioning to be included in the congestion pricing zones.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:19 PM   #46
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

I feel like in Boston it's another case of "Well, it'd be hard to do here so let's not even try."

Yes, congestion pricing would be confusing ti implement here, but it wouldn't be impossible by any means.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:29 PM   #47
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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Originally Posted by massmotorist View Post
If it's that simplistic, it's useless. Roads, neighborhoods, and areas around Boston are at various levels of capacity and must be priced differently in order for this to be at all helpful. And if you price the interstates but not the secondary roads and minor arterials you're going to drive traffic congestion up in those places and negate most if not all of the gains you made. And if you price the secondary roads and minor arterials you're getting a lot closer to an ubiquitous surveillance society, but without the efficiency gains you would get from direct GPS tracking.
Current congestion pricing schemes aren't anywhere near as complex or intrusive as you describe. London charges a flat rate of 10 per day with discounts for vehicles registered as autopay, and higher rates if paid after the day of travel. You simply set up a boundary and charge any vehicle that enters the area during the defined timeframe.

It is very simple and has yielded great results for London and Stockholm - I would think such a setup would actually be wildly successful in Boston, especially if the revenue went towards beefing up MBTA service.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:27 PM   #48
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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Originally Posted by massmotorist View Post
If it's that simplistic, it's useless. Roads, neighborhoods, and areas around Boston are at various levels of capacity and must be priced differently in order for this to be at all helpful. And if you price the interstates but not the secondary roads and minor arterials you're going to drive traffic congestion up in those places and negate most if not all of the gains you made. And if you price the secondary roads and minor arterials you're getting a lot closer to an ubiquitous surveillance society, but without the efficiency gains you would get from direct GPS tracking.
THE ATOM CAN NOT BE SPLIT. FULL STOP.
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:02 AM   #49
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

Congestion fees in Boston would just a tax on people who can't afford to live in T accessible areas and don't have an extra 3-4 hours a day to spend taking the T vs. driving.

(I'm fully prepared to be called all sorts of names for writing this, so go ahead)
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:16 AM   #50
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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Originally Posted by omaja View Post
Current congestion pricing schemes aren't anywhere near as complex or intrusive as you describe. London charges a flat rate of 10 per day with discounts for vehicles registered as autopay, and higher rates if paid after the day of travel. You simply set up a boundary and charge any vehicle that enters the area during the defined timeframe.

It is very simple and has yielded great results for London and Stockholm - I would think such a setup would actually be wildly successful in Boston, especially if the revenue went towards beefing up MBTA service.
The lack of complexity results in significantly less economic efficiency and does not solve traffic problems outside Boston (where 90% state residents live). Also, "setting up a boundary" involves a whole lot of major and minor arterials, collector roads, and local roads. That's a whole lot of surveillance and a whole lot of overhead.
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:47 AM   #51
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

What kind of an area are you thinking of? All of Boston? Just Downtown and Back Bay? Something in between? London's congestion zone is only around one square so it isn't like we'd see literally every road into Boston under surveillance.

Also, the goal of the congestion charge is to decrease traffic specifically in the designated zone; has nothing to do with intrasuburban congestion and doesn't make any claim to, either.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:35 AM   #52
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

Congestion charging is really only the tip of the iceberg, albeit an important one.

Those who claim, as if it's an end in itself, that congestion pricing will reduce traffic and urban core automobile congestion - and by implication make driving into the city faster/quicker/more convenient for those willing to pay - have really missed the point.

The point is: what do you do with the street now that it has fewer cars.

Having been in Central London over the past few months, I would wager that more than 40% of all major-artery pavement is dedicated to bus/bike lanes (as an aside, bus/bike lanes do not work for bikes, but this is a separate issue entirely). There are intersections where entirely new pedestrian plazas have been built out at un-needed and unnecessary pavement. None of this would have been possible without the congestion charge. To me, this is the real goal.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:58 AM   #53
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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No, it really can't. A few hundred formerly wealthy old wasps and Jews, Hipster pricks, uppity gays and probably two hundred thousand on the dole is not a sustainable population model.
I'm not Jewish.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:00 AM   #54
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

1952: "Must be nice to be able to afford to live in the suburbs."
2012: "Must be nice to be able to afford to live in the city."
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:13 AM   #55
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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Originally Posted by gooseberry View Post
Congestion fees in Boston would just a tax on people who can't afford to live in T accessible areas and don't have an extra 3-4 hours a day to spend taking the T vs. driving.

(I'm fully prepared to be called all sorts of names for writing this, so go ahead)
I would say that one of the first things that congestion money should be used for, if such a plan is implemented, would be to reduce the fares on the commuter rail, which are currently quite high.

In general though one might end up with a cart before the horse problem, where you want to use congestion money to improve public transit, but better public transit is needed before one would want to implement the charge.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:09 AM   #56
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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In general though one might end up with a cart before the horse problem, where you want to use congestion money to improve public transit, but better public transit is needed before one would want to implement the charge.
Simple fix: issue a bond based on projected future revenue from the charge, then pay it back as the charge is implemented.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:44 AM   #57
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

Allright, lets talk logistics, assume this would happen.

Where would the boarder be? Arlighton and Stuart/Kneeland St, just segregating the downtown core? Or further out at Mass Ave to keep people out of the Back Bay and South End as well? What about Fenway, would one be implemented there during game days? Or the LMA, which is as much if not more of a traffic disaster than downtown?

I think the biggest issue with implementation here is that we have small clusters of density with extreme traffic, separated by relatively calm and less dense areas. You can't easily just draw a box around one area. Although, perhaps if there were just small "bubbles" that you get charged for entering it would help better distribute traffic, similar to the proposal for closing Mass Ave in Cambridge here and there.

Would you get charged for going on Storrow, 90 or 93 if you are just passing through and not actually getting off downtown?
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:31 PM   #58
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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Congestion fees in Boston would just a tax on people who can't afford to live in T accessible areas and don't have an extra 3-4 hours a day to spend taking the T vs. driving.

(I'm fully prepared to be called all sorts of names for writing this, so go ahead)
By show of hands, is anyone here priced out of Brockton or Lawrence? Anybody?
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:58 PM   #59
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

These arguments that it can't be done (Boston is too dense, too many secondary and tertiary streets, impossible to find the right pricing scheme, etc.) is so bizarre.

Say you don't think it's fair, or you hate taxes, or there are more efficient alternatives, or you like sitting in traffic... but don't argue that it can't be done. It's been done successfully in London. That argument is over.
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Old 12-06-2012, 01:02 PM   #60
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

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Originally Posted by davem View Post
Allright, lets talk logistics, assume this would happen.

Where would the boarder be? Arlighton and Stuart/Kneeland St, just segregating the downtown core? Or further out at Mass Ave to keep people out of the Back Bay and South End as well? What about Fenway, would one be implemented there during game days? Or the LMA, which is as much if not more of a traffic disaster than downtown?

I think the biggest issue with implementation here is that we have small clusters of density with extreme traffic, separated by relatively calm and less dense areas. You can't easily just draw a box around one area. Although, perhaps if there were just small "bubbles" that you get charged for entering it would help better distribute traffic, similar to the proposal for closing Mass Ave in Cambridge here and there.

Would you get charged for going on Storrow, 90 or 93 if you are just passing through and not actually getting off downtown?
I think the first goal should be to maximize economic productivity of the region by appropriately using the infrastructure. Currently, the primary traffic issues come from 9-5 suburbanites driving to work on the pike, 93 N/S and 1. People crawl in this for an 1.5 hours each way each day. I think there is less of a problem of intracity traffic- trying to deter people from driving from back bay to downtown. I would bet that most of this comes from people that drove into work downtown and then drive to a restaurant in Back Bay before driving home, and less the guy who lives in the South End (lookin at uppity Mr. Keith . When I commuted from the suburbs before I was able to move into the city- you had to leave a 7 to get in by 9. If you can essentially offer people the option to pay $3 and they get to leave at 8 and be at work by nine many would pay it. Many others would say, I'll take the CR.

I think it be placed on the main highway entry points. I think a lot of people will shift their schedules (work 11-7), work from home, take the T/CR. With gas prices where they are, I am sure $3, which is currently < a gallon of gas, would actually be justified by fuel savings alone. Drive 45 min at 55 mph vs 90 min at 30 mph- so for people that pay the toll its nearly a breakeven.

That money can then be diverted to lowering the CR, so people have further incentive. Plus more people coming in on Mass transit, means more people using mass transit/hubway to do intracity travel. Meaning there is a huge, vocal constituency that says, update GL signals! Shorter OL and RL headways. SL to RAIL!

Many flaws, but I think a good way to incentivize economically maximizing behavior and infrastructure development in a way that actually works out for those that drive too!
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