archBOSTON.org

Go Back   archBOSTON.org > Boston's Built Environment > Design a Better Boston

Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 06-22-2017, 09:35 PM   #1
Renegade334
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 3
Boston Congestion Zone Charging

I have been working on a Congestion Zone that I really would love for Boston to implement.

Take a look at it and give me your thoughts.

Plan can be found here
Renegade334 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 09:15 AM   #2
Arlington
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: West Medford, MA
Posts: 3,382
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

I like.


I suspect about 80% of the benefit would cover just the very tallest parts of the city:

1) Colonial Boston (from Charles St to the harbor)
2) Tall Back Bay (from Newbury to SW Corridor Park)
__________________
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 10:24 AM   #3
fattony
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Davis/Ball Sq.
Posts: 1,672
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

I'm a HUGE fan of congestion charging and I would love to see something like this implemented. A few early thoughts:

1) What standard should we use for setting the boundary? Existing congestion patterns are perhaps most important, but we also need to consider how behaviors will change with the new system. For example, the last exit before the congestion zone may become a very popular destination if you just flick a light switch and start charging $9 which brings me to my next point:

2) $9 seems pretty steep, which is a good thing! I wonder if we could phase in over the course of many years. If the charge is $2, behavior won't change much, but you'll be collecting revenue to spend on transit improvements. After a couple years, the first round of bus lanes or whatever are complete and operational and now we raise the toll to $4-5. Traffic volumes drops and revenue stays the same or increases. New round of projects funded and executed over a couple years... Rinse and repeat until the required transit projects are complete and you achieve the desired level of traffic with enough revenue to maintain the transit upgrades. If the upgrades are primarily to buses this could probably happen on just a few years timescale. Trains... well trains take a much longer timeline.
fattony is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 10:40 AM   #4
JumboBuc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: The Fenway
Posts: 1,750
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Boston congestion pricing is not going to happen any time in the next couple of decades, and probably never in any of our lifetimes. Remember that this is a state that used a ballot referendum to knock down the idea of tying the gas tax to inflation, and this is a city that still gives away unlimited resident parking permits for free. No way a congestion charge will fly politically. Let's start charging more for parking and driving in general, then we can think about congestion pricing.

But even putting that aside, $9 strikes me as serious overkill. Start with a buck or two and work from there. The thing with congestion is that its relationship with traffic volume is far from linear; a small decrease in the number of cars on the road can do a lot to clear up congestion.
JumboBuc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 10:48 AM   #5
West
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 736
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

I'm in full support of this concept. I agree with fattony's points, especially the first one. The third proposal has a bit of a stepped structure: I'd take that a lot farther with several more concentric "circles" (which of course wouldn't be round at all) of zones stepping down in price more gradually as one gets farther from the core. There would still be some behavioral impacts as people try to game it along the boundaries, but not as much as when there's such an abrupt drop from a zone at $9 / day down to an abutting zone at $0 / day just one block over.

This should not be something Boston tries alone. At the very least Cambridge and Brookline should be included. I know, fantasy thinking. Here's some more fantasy thinking: shift the entire tax structure for cars / trucks away from gas taxes and over to paying by a formula of miles traveled and weight of vehicle. Require every vehicle to be equipped with transponders that read mileage and have base weight plugged in (for cars) or can be set (for trucks), use that to collect usage tax on a pay-as-you-use-it basis. Same transponders could hopefully be used for the congestion pricing, though maybe that's not as technically feasible.
West is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 11:58 AM   #6
tysmith95
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: North Shore
Posts: 2,143
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Why exempt taxi and for hire vehicles from the congestion charge?

Also does this include I93? I'd be in favor of I93 congestion charges, especially during rush hour. It should have been implemented from the start to help pay for the big dig.
tysmith95 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 12:19 PM   #7
fattony
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Davis/Ball Sq.
Posts: 1,672
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by tysmith95 View Post
Why exempt taxi and for hire vehicles from the congestion charge?

Also does this include I93? I'd be in favor of I93 congestion charges, especially during rush hour. It should have been implemented from the start to help pay for the big dig.
The primary concern is discouraging SOV commuting from the burbs. People taking a taxi from one part of the city to another is not the worst kind of automobile trip. In particular, the taxi never parks and serves many many customers going in both directions across the boundary.
fattony is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 12:21 PM   #8
tysmith95
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: North Shore
Posts: 2,143
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by fattony View Post
The primary concern is discouraging SOV commuting from the burbs. People taking a taxi from one part of the city to another is not the worst kind of automobile trip. In particular, the taxi never parks and serves many many customers going in both directions across the boundary.
Taxis sit in Taxi stands. Plus what about Uber/Lyft, they have a larger market share then Taxi's these days. Uber/Lyft cars dead-mile less than Taxis. Taxing Uber/Lyft and not Taxis would create unfair competition imho.
tysmith95 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 12:29 PM   #9
fattony
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Davis/Ball Sq.
Posts: 1,672
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by tysmith95 View Post
Taxis sit in Taxi stands. Plus what about Uber/Lyft, they have a larger market share then Taxi's these days. Uber/Lyft cars dead-mile less than Taxis. Taxing Uber/Lyft and not Taxis would create unfair competition imho.
Nobody said anything about excluding Uber/Lyft. The exclusion should be for all for-hire car services.
fattony is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 12:36 PM   #10
tysmith95
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: North Shore
Posts: 2,143
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by fattony View Post
Nobody said anything about excluding Uber/Lyft. The exclusion should be for all for-hire car services.
Ahh ok.

Another effective method would be to reduce the amount of parking even further. The more expensive parking is the less likely people are to drive into the city. That might be more politically feasible compared to congestion charges.

Off topic but politically stuff like this would be much easier to implement if Somerville/Cambridge were neighborhoods of Boston and not separate cities.
tysmith95 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 12:58 PM   #11
Shepard
Senior Member
 
Shepard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 3,384
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Renegade - I like the document. What I'd like to see is a better-quantified analysis of the upside for transit funding - how much money are we talking about, and what kinds of service improvements can that buy. I don't believe that many people - even those who are stuck in traffic - will accept reducing congestion as an end in itself without being convinced that transit will fill the resulting need.
Shepard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 02:03 PM   #12
CBCArch61
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 75
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Love the concept! I agree with almost all of the comments to help support this as well. This should and would be tied exclusively to transit, correct? This alone would help the NSRL cause.

The biggest question I would have is, How is it enforced? I understand London has a congestion charge and I am sure a little research would tell how they enforce it, but does anyone know how to implement something like this???
CBCArch61 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 03:40 PM   #13
HalcyonEra
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 352
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

I hate to rain on the parade, but I suspect there are some serious constitutional barriers to this scheme, both Federal and State. There is a reason why they haven't been copied in the U.S yet.

It is not as if we have a robust public transit system that could even remotely handle the increased capacity one would expect from this. Then you have the regressive tax nature. Under this plan, you are going to charge the minimum wage office cleaner going into work who has no choice but to drive since public transit is closed when their shift is over. And what of the person who lives in the city proper and has a reverse commute to somewhere not near transit? Of course, in a corrupt parochial city like Boston there are going be exception passes handed out like candy to friends and family and at some point it becomes a zero sum game. You are also going to have businesses that will simply cover the charges for their coveted employees who demand to drive.

IMHO, any attempt to do this will end up in the courts for many years.
HalcyonEra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 03:54 PM   #14
JumboBuc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: The Fenway
Posts: 1,750
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

^ I'm pretty sure that "minimum wage office cleaner[s]" don't drive (and park!) downtown to get to work... Congestion charges vary by time, anyway, so reverse commuters and night workers would be spared.

And Boston absolutely does have a "robust public transit system", especially in any area that would be covered by a congestion charge. For all the T's faults it still does an amazing amount of work and serves hundreds of thousands of people reliably every single day.

I agree that congestion charging is a no-go politically in Boston, but not because it will unfairly stick the little guy.
JumboBuc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 04:42 PM   #15
fattony
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Davis/Ball Sq.
Posts: 1,672
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by JumboBuc View Post
And Boston absolutely does have a "robust public transit system", especially in any area that would be covered by a congestion charge. For all the T's faults it still does an amazing amount of work and serves hundreds of thousands of people reliably every single day.
Thank you for that.

To quantify, the MBTA daily ridership is 1.3 million, so approximately 650,000 people served. Many folks have a very jaded perspective on the T, I guess people just need to have something to complain about. It isn't perfect, but that doesn't make it an utter failure. It is the beating heart of Metro Boston's economy.

I'll further add that the whole point of this brainstorming is to make Boston work better. As long as enough car-dependent people have a stranglehold on the public ways, then our buses are destined to continue their mediocre performance. If we clean out a significant percentage of traffic and on-street parking then we will unlock tremendous untapped potential in the MBTA through network effects.
fattony is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 05:31 PM   #16
HalcyonEra
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 352
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by JumboBuc View Post
^ I'm pretty sure that "minimum wage office cleaner[s]" don't drive (and park!) downtown to get to work... Congestion charges vary by time, anyway, so reverse commuters and night workers would be spared.

And Boston absolutely does have a "robust public transit system", especially in any area that would be covered by a congestion charge. For all the T's faults it still does an amazing amount of work and serves hundreds of thousands of people reliably every single day.

I agree that congestion charging is a no-go politically in Boston, but not because it will unfairly stick the little guy.
No? We'll I'll tell you what. I've worked in 3 different towers in the city, and since I am a smoker, I've gotten to know a few and there are many that drive in and have parking passes. It is awfully pretentious to think otherwise.

Out definition of a robust transit differ greatly. We are practically at capacity now as it is. And it is not so much as to where the transit runs to, it's where is originates from, which is a significant reason why you have so many car travelers in the first place.

The legality of charging is complex as well. I really don't know who it could be, as it is more akin to a toll rather than a tax. If a toll, the state could impose it, however there is federal oversight as it pertains interstate highways, two of which technically travel through the zone and become barriers of entry. If the state does it, as a republic, all those reps and senators voting for it from the burbs will then likely be at serious risk for re-election. That is really why no new tolls were added anywhere to pay for the big dig, except for where they already were, even though the bonds were already paid off for the Pike.

Don't get me wrong, the idea has merit. I'm simply saying it would be a long process with no guarantees of implementation.
HalcyonEra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 05:37 PM   #17
HalcyonEra
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 352
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by fattony View Post
Thank you for that.

To quantify, the MBTA daily ridership is 1.3 million, so approximately 650,000 people served. Many folks have a very jaded perspective on the T, I guess people just need to have something to complain about. It isn't perfect, but that doesn't make it an utter failure. It is the beating heart of Metro Boston's economy.

I'll further add that the whole point of this brainstorming is to make Boston work better. As long as enough car-dependent people have a stranglehold on the public ways, then our buses are destined to continue their mediocre performance. If we clean out a significant percentage of traffic and on-street parking then we will unlock tremendous untapped potential in the MBTA through network effects.
I'm not bashing the MBTA for it is. I think it's great. I am pointing out where it is not, and through no fault of its own. Compared to London, it is kid's Lionel train set. It was first, but then ignored for eons instead of being built out further and circumferentialy (not sure if that is a word) around the core. How there are unused and defunct rail lines is beyond me, even if they are being converted at snails pace to biking trails.
HalcyonEra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2017, 07:05 PM   #18
DominusNovus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 716
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by JumboBuc View Post
Boston congestion pricing is not going to happen any time in the next couple of decades, and probably never in any of our lifetimes. Remember that this is a state that used a ballot referendum to knock down the idea of tying the gas tax to inflation, and this is a city that still gives away unlimited resident parking permits for free. No way a congestion charge will fly politically. Let's start charging more for parking and driving in general, then we can think about congestion pricing.

But even putting that aside, $9 strikes me as serious overkill. Start with a buck or two and work from there. The thing with congestion is that its relationship with traffic volume is far from linear; a small decrease in the number of cars on the road can do a lot to clear up congestion.
Tying the tax to inflation was an absurd idea. If it needs to be raised in the future, our servants on Beacon Hill can take the heat and raise it when it needs to be raised.

Anyway, conjestion charging doesn't make sense to me, for Boston. Get rid of free on street parking everywhere in the core areas (including residential permit parking) and raise the metered parking. No reason someone with a condo in Back Bay needs on street parking.
__________________
The Goal of Mass Transit should be to get you from Bed to Boss to Bar and back again.
DominusNovus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2017, 11:58 AM   #19
AmericanFolkLegend
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 2,118
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by DominusNovus View Post
Tying the tax to inflation was an absurd idea. If it needs to be raised in the future, our servants on Beacon Hill can take the heat and raise it when it needs to be raised.
It's not absurd. Income taxes, property taxes and sales taxes are all tied to inflation by virtue of being based on a percent of a value that is affected by inflation. Why should the gas tax be any different?
AmericanFolkLegend is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2017, 12:02 PM   #20
TallIsGood
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 308
Re: Boston Congestion Zone Charging

Then change the gas tax to x%, not x cents per gallon. Solves your inflation issue and solves the issue that legislators actually vote to increase the tax.
TallIsGood is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Congestion toll in Boston? statler Transit and Infrastructure 149 03-01-2015 05:06 PM
Boston Combat Zone 1969-1978 - photo exhibition Ron Newman Boston Architecture/Urbanism Related Events 19 02-17-2010 09:10 PM
Ann/North Street, Boston's original Combat Zone czsz Boston Architecture & Urbanism 3 09-27-2009 01:00 AM
CURING CONGESTION: Patrick Transit and Infrastructure 1 04-09-2007 10:29 AM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:37 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.