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Old 08-22-2007, 01:35 PM   #1
statler
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Congestion toll in Boston?

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Originally Posted by The Metro
Traffic toll eyed
Congestion toll charge considered for rush-hour commute

BOSTON. Boosting tolls during rush hour and video tolling are two options that may be implemented when the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority replaces its aging toll system in the next few years, transportation officials said yesterday.

With its Fast Lane system now 10 years old and its cash collection system in place for more than 50 years, the agency has been looking to dramatically upgrade its toll collection technology and improve its old methods.

According to Turnpike official Steve Jacques, many options are being considered to both improve riders? commutes and bring in additional revenue. Over the next 20 years, the state?s transportation system is facing a shortfall of nearly $19 billion.

Under congestion pricing, commuters would be charged more during rush hour, while video tolling would capture drivers? license plates and bill the owners monthly. In addition, another option considered is ?open road? tolls, which allow drivers to avoid booths altogether but track the distance they travel using transponders.

Not all the options will be used, according to Turnpike officials, but it is important the new toll software have state-of-the-art technology. The companies that will be considered by the Turnpike must have these capabilities to win the bid, said Jacques.

?If the board elects to implement congestive pricing somewhere the future, we will be able to handle it. Today, the vendor can?t handle it,? Jacques said. ?Part of the menu that we?re sending out ... we want to have all the new advancements that are available, so you don?t ever have to go back.?

A request for proposals for the project will be issued later this year. The hiring will likely not occur until mid-2008 and implementation of the new system would happen in 2009.
In addition to collection system changes, fares on the Mass Pike will also jump starting in January. Officials will recommend what those hikes will be next month. Then, after a series of public hearings, the board will vote on the hikes in October, according to Mary Jane O?Meara, the Turnpike Authority?s acting executive director.
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Old 08-22-2007, 01:48 PM   #2
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NYC is working on something like this. I'd prefer to let them shake the bugs out of the system first.
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:06 PM   #3
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Does Boston really need congestion pricing? Would you just charge people once they cross Mass Ave from the South and West and when they come in from Cambridge and Charlestown?

NYC needs it desperately but we can also handle it. How would the T handle the extra load?
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Old 08-22-2007, 02:43 PM   #4
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Doesn't this amount to admitting there were far, far cheaper means to reduce traffic in the city than burying and expanding the 93?

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NYC is working on something like this. I'd prefer to let them shake the bugs out of the system first.
London has had it for years; it's the model New York is working off of. No need to wait to see how it plays out in Manhattan as well.
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Old 08-22-2007, 10:12 PM   #5
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One of the best traffic/toll systems I ever saw was in Florida. The sunshine pass or whatnot. For FastLane, we need to slow down to go through, but the Sunshine Pass lane, no slowdown is necessary. They go right through there 60+. Miami has their traffic systems down, and as with the parking prices, I'm all for congestion pricing. Encourage the T to grow. And carpool, it would be good for the enviroment.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:57 AM   #6
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Just when, I wonder, did the state decide they were a for profit entity?

This is crazy. That a price gouging structure would be implemented for the use of a public thoroughfare is insane.

There is not even any process in place, that I know of, which would legally keep these collected funds for being sucked into the general fund.

Just like the "sin" taxes charged, this is an unfair collection of funds from a few to boost the coffers, by means of a shortsighted enthusiasm of the disaffected.

Why on Earth should the Transit system be subsidized, and the existing roadways taxed? Why should corporations be given incentives to open shop, and the employees be charged more to go to work?

In a day and age when our roadways need significant and continued maintenance, this seems to drive the congestion toward the secondary roads, which are under valued and under maintained to begin with.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:57 AM   #7
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Fantastic, this would mean suburbanites who barely find a need to come downtown will no longer enter the city at all.

Long live suburban strip malls.
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSixpack
Just when, I wonder, did the state decide they were a for profit entity?
When they had bills to pay and all the people who used to pay taxes left for the suburbs.

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This is crazy. That a price gouging structure would be implemented for the use of a public thoroughfare is insane.
The Pike is not a public thoroughfare, it is a turnpike, which by definition is built to make money from people using its convenience.

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There is not even any process in place, that I know of, which would legally keep these collected funds for being sucked into the general fund.
In Mass, this is a legitimate concern.

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Why on Earth should the Transit system be subsidized, and the existing roadways taxed? Why should corporations be given incentives to open shop, and the employees be charged more to go to work?
Do you want to pay higher taxes to pay for better service or pay to drive into the city and the money go to fixing roads and transit? Or do you want to keep all your money and have all the infrastructure you need to get to work fall apart?

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In a day and age when our roadways need significant and continued maintenance, this seems to drive the congestion toward the secondary roads, which are under valued and under maintained to begin with.
This won't drive congestion to other roads, it will stop some people from driving and thus ease the congestion, which is the real point.
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:31 PM   #9
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all the people who used to pay taxes left for the suburbs
I could be wrong, but the suburbs are still in the state (well, mostly), no?
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:30 PM   #10
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I was referring to people leaving Boston, specifically.
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:26 PM   #11
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Tolls are unfair and create boundaries. A gas tax affects only those who drive most.
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jass
Tolls are unfair and create boundaries.
Only when they are mandatory. You don't HAVE to use the Pike, you could take Route 9. You are paying a premium for convenience.

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A gas tax affects only those who drive most.
Gas tax goes into paying for upkeep of roads so saying it is unfair is ludicrous. You wanna repair potholes yourself?

Also, that is sort of the point, to get people to drive less.
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:16 PM   #13
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He wasn't saying the gas tax was unfair. He was saying it's fairer than congestion pricing, since it effectively taxes the amount you drive, and not where you drive.
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Old 08-23-2007, 06:00 PM   #14
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Ok, but you are still paying for the convenience of driving in a city with less cars. It also helps the pedestrian and biker who are usually an after thought when it comes to traffic planning.
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by czsz
He wasn't saying the gas tax was unfair. He was saying it's fairer than congestion pricing, since it effectively taxes the amount you drive, and not where you drive.
Exactly.

Congestion pricing would make a line around Boston, and many people who simply choose not to cross it. Its like the state tax thing at the border. People simply cross into NH to shop. This would work the opposite way, people would stop coming downtown. They wouldnt ride the T, theyd simply shop elsewhere.

Meanwhile, gas tax means the people who want to live in the suburbs have to pay wherever they go.
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:58 PM   #16
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Congestion pricing would make a line around Boston, and many people who simply choose not to cross it.
A congestion charge will certainly result in fewer people coming into Boston, but how dramatic would the change be? If you're traveling into downtown today from the North Shore via Route 1 or Route 1A, or from the west via Pike, you're already paying at least $3 to enter Boston. Since you can't assume an on street parking space in downtown or the Back Bay, you're probably looking at a minimum $10 to park while you're shopping (or $20+ if you're parking for 8 hours while working).

It's not like a congestion charge will take us from $0 to whatever the congestion charge will be. It already costs at least $10 to drive into Boston from the burbs when you factor in parking.
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:50 PM   #17
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If the method doesn't involve tolls and the slowing/stopping of traffic, will the charge be applied on 93?
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:28 PM   #18
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Probably not. In NYC the charge won't affect people who are just passing through or abound the edges. If a congestion charge was installed in Boston then there would probably just be cameras at the on/off ramps on I-93.
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Old 08-31-2007, 03:39 PM   #19
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Just passing through? What makes you think that 93 is any different than Rt. 1 on the north of Boston (which is the same road as 93 through Boston)?
93 isn't a bypass road; it's not like 128/95...it goes straight through the heart of downtown. If anyone should pay a toll, it's people on 93. On winter mornings traffic backs up at least to Spot Pond in Stoneham, and on occasion all the way to the New Hampshire border. Traffic is always horrendous coming into the city on 93 from the south; yet when you're going against traffic in either direction it's a breeze. People aren't passing through, they're using 93 just as they would use Rt. 1 or the pike.
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Old 04-04-2008, 02:13 PM   #20
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Re: Congestion toll in Boston?

From the NY Times:

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April 1, 2008
City Council Approves Fee to Drive Below 60th

By DIANE CARDWELL

The controversial proposal to charge drivers in the busiest parts of Manhattan took a major step forward on Monday, with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Speaker Christine C. Quinn wrenching approval from the City Council by an unusually slim margin.

Under intense pressure from the mayor, Ms. Quinn and their allies that continued almost until the voting began, council members approved the plan to charge most drivers $8 to enter a zone below 60th Street by a vote of 30 to 20, with no abstentions and one absence.

At a news conference after the vote, where Mr. Bloomberg made a rare appearance on the speaker?s side of City Hall, officials sought to play down the narrowness of their hard-won victory, among the closest of this administration in a body that typically votes in near unanimity.

Approving the proposal, Ms. Quinn said, would send a message to the Legislature that the ?people who were elected to represent the New Yorkers who live in our five boroughs are sick and tired of our streets being clogged with traffic, we?re sick and tired of the children who live in our city literally having to fight to be able to breathe, and that we see congestion pricing as a solution to this problem.?

But the ultimate fate of the proposal now resides in Albany, where the intentions of lawmakers whose approval is needed remained unclear. Gov. David A. Paterson and the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, have expressed their support. But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has derailed Mr. Bloomberg?s ambitions in the past, remained noncommittal, telling members of the Democratic conference on Sunday night that he would not take the issue up until the state budget was completed.

If the Assembly waits to act until after the budget, it could threaten the bill?s chances in the Senate, because it would come before the Legislature as a stand-alone item, making approval more elusive. Several council members complained as they voted that the mayor had reneged on a promise that they would not be asked to take up the measure until the State Legislature had agreed to support the proposal.

But other council members took the vote as a sign that Mr. Silver would ultimately back the plan, since Ms. Quinn had said privately that she would not call for a vote until she had an indication that it would gain approval from the state.

But Mr. Silver said that he had made no such assurance.
?I told her it?s not before us until they vote on it,? he said. ?And we will deal with the issue after we pass a budget.?

Speaking to reporters with Ms. Quinn, Mr. Bloomberg seemed particularly defensive about Mr. Silver. Asked if they had any indication that leaders in Albany would approve the proposal, Ms. Quinn said that she had received calls from Mr. Paterson and Mr. Bruno urging that the Council ?move as quickly as possible and do what we did today, so I thought that was a very good sign.?

In response to a question about Mr. Silver, though, Mr. Bloomberg approached the lectern, sidestepped the question and then cut off the line of inquiry, saying they could not speak for Albany leaders.

Technically, the Council approved a measure known as a home rule message, which is a request for the State Legislature to pass the plan as outlined in a bill introduced into the Senate. The Legislature has until April 7 to approve the program or risk losing roughly $350 million in federal money to help offset the costs of starting the plan. Mr. Bloomberg has said that much of that money would go toward increasing bus service in underserved areas.

Although the administration and the Council?s leadership were able to gain support with promises of programs, projects and political aid in upcoming campaigns ? as well as threats of taking those things away ? opposition remained strong. Several council members argued that it was unfair to essentially tax residents to move around their own city, that even after they voted to support the proposal, the Legislature could approve a different version, and that revenues would not necessarily go toward the promised transit improvements.

?This plan, while wrapped up in three incredibly important and laudable goals,? including cleaning the air, reducing traffic and paying for mass transit, said Lewis A. Fidler, a Brooklyn councilman who strongly opposed the plan, ?is designed to deter people from coming into a part of the city if they can?t afford it.?

He added: ?What?s next? We?re going to charge a user fee to come into Central Park because it?s crowded??

Jeremy W. Peters contributed reporting.
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