Boston worst traffic in the country.

Arlington

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% of drive time in bumper to bumper ? Never heard of that as the measure for "worst traffic" --it is potentially a good measure, but so are other things.

We have a growing economy and a static network--traffics gonna get worse, but commutes could get better if we did a better job of massing new people and workplaces where there's spare or affordable capacity--which is more like transit than road widening
 

tysmith95

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Public Transit is the anwser to traffic issues. Incentivise transit use, and build around transit.
 

Scott

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“On one metric” = click bait.
 

Lrfox

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Anecdotally, I don't think Boston's nearly as bad as some of its peers. Traffic, in my experience, is much worse in (obviously), NY and LA. For cities closer in size, SF, Dallas, DC, Atlanta and Miami are all much worse. Two of those have pretty decent transit networks too.

Don't get me wrong, Boston's traffic sucks hard. It's hot garbage. But I think it has more room for improvement than many of its peers too. We don't need to build a transit network from scratch - improvements to our existing network can increase capacity quite a bit. Targeted expansion can make it top tier network. The biggest concern with the Boston area is low density development around the core. We need to be able to build more and build higher density.
 

citydweller

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from: https://www.wbjournal.com/article/greater-boston-traffic-congestion-at-tipping-point

note: it's a "new" article but the report was done early this year. (go figure) It just reinforces what we already know.


Boston named the worst congested city in the U.S.

You could argue that traffic is not just a top story of 2019, but a top story of this century.

The frustration this year hit a fever pitch when INRIX deemed Boston as the most congested city in the country and a year-long Baker administration study put facts and figures on a trend most drivers had already observed.
A few lowlights from the congestion report: roads within the Route 128 belt are deemed as being in "peak period" for traffic for 14 hours per weekday; the commute from Burlington to Cambridge's Kendall Square is so unpredictable that it could take 25 minutes or it could take 75 minutes; 48 percent of roadways inside 128 are congested by 7 a.m. for the morning commute and 62 percent are congested by 3 p.m. for the evening commute.

"People in Massachusetts don't need this study to confirm what they experience every day: congestion has gone from bad to worse, from occasional inconvenience and frustration to a constant and daily reality," Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack wrote in an introduction to the findings.

The report added some context to the endless Beacon Hill debate about how to address the state's transportation woes, particularly because it explicitly warned that the growing problem could be a drag on the economy and pose significant challenges for greenhouse gas reduction efforts.

The year ended with lots of ideas floating around about addressing the problem, but no real momentum behind any of them. House lawmakers are weighing new tax, toll, fee and revenue proposals to make the MBTA and to improve public transportation options. Gov. Baker, who opposes raising the gas tax or adjusting tolls to incentivize motorists to travel off peak, is studying the idea of new highway lanes where people could pay more to travel faster and new methods of encouraging drivers to travel together rather than alone.

How successful they are at finding consensus on effective responses could determine whether traffic remains a top story this time next year.
 
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Arlington

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"adding lanes where people could pay more to travel faster" == congestion tolling, but just on new capacity. This works politically (people view it as additive), in a way that tolling existing roads doesn't (people view it as a deprivation). There's a lot to the psychlogy (people support HOV lanes if they're new, but not if they're painted on existing lanes).

A system of HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes is the agreed "purple" solution in Virginia (between the state-level Rs and the suburban Ds), and it would seem like a better solution than "do nothing" which has been the response in Maryland and Massachusetts, whose solid-D legislatures seem strangely unable to act regardless of whether they have a D governor (Patrick or O'Malley) or a pragmatic R (Baker or Hogan)
 

Balerion

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A system of HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes is the agreed "purple" solution in Virginia (between the state-level Rs and the suburban Ds), and it would seem like a better solution than "do nothing" which has been the response in Maryland and Massachusetts, whose solid-D legislatures seem strangely unable to act regardless of whether they have a D governor (Patrick or O'Malley) or a pragmatic R (Baker or Hogan)
I don't know much about MD state politics, but in MA the identity or party of the governor matters much less than what Bob DeLeo wants, and being a transportation visionary is not a mantle he's seeking to claim.

Perhaps you could say that the 2018 legislative elections contained a few warning shots from MA Dems to their representatives, but nobody in the legislature lost their seat over transportation policy. I'd imagine that the best we can hope for in terms of legislative innovation for transportation are incremental improvements on the status quo until DeLeo decides to call it a career.
 

mass88

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The issue is that our highways are not wide enough to have express lanes that are tolled. You'd have to take away existing lanes and that's not going to be a popular idea. Large stretches of 128 are a tangled mess with awful interchanges (93/95 in Canton, 95/90 in Weston are prime examples) and not enough acceleration and deceleration lanes around exits cause some issues. I am not suggesting we need to be Houston or Los Angeles and have 14 and 16 lane highways. But making some modest lane additions and rebuilding and re-configuring some key interchanges could help things out. People who live in Franklin, or Walpole, or Mansfield and work in Lexington/Burlington/Waltham can't take mass transit and will always need to drive.

Unlike 93 into the city in both directions (which can be alleviated with faster and far more reliable mass transit), 128 doesn't have that benefit of sorts.
 

Arlington

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In Virginia, the formerly 4-lane (each way) interstates were rebuilt the full "fence to fence" width, generally 4 "free' and 2 HOT lanes in each direction, and 2 full shoulders. (One for the general lanes and one for the HOT lanes) All paid by a PPP borrowing against future toll revenue.

I think you'd be surprised how wide the deeded width of our highways are in most places.
 

whighlander

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The issue is that our highways are not wide enough to have express lanes that are tolled. You'd have to take away existing lanes and that's not going to be a popular idea. Large stretches of 128 are a tangled mess with awful interchanges (93/95 in Canton, 95/90 in Weston are prime examples) and not enough acceleration and deceleration lanes around exits cause some issues. I am not suggesting we need to be Houston or Los Angeles and have 14 and 16 lane highways. But making some modest lane additions and rebuilding and re-configuring some key interchanges could help things out. People who live in Franklin, or Walpole, or Mansfield and work in Lexington/Burlington/Waltham can't take mass transit and will always need to drive.

Unlike 93 into the city in both directions (which can be alleviated with faster and far more reliable mass transit), 128 doesn't have that benefit of sorts.
Mass -- Exactly

While there are stretches of Rt-128 [where it is also I-95 or I-93] which are quite dense along the highway ROW -- it makes no sense to try to accommodate the flow of people in cars moving circumferentially around -- since they essentially are using Rt-1289 like a giant rotary. There used to be a so-called 'Computer Commuter" who entered RT-128 from a variety of incoming routes and then exited from Rt-128 via several outgoing routes where DEC and /or one of DEC's competitors / off-spring had set-up shop. Most of that is of course long gone now -- but the R&D and light manufacturing facilities built in the 70's, 80's, 90's have been re-purposed for things such as: Bio-pharma manufacturing, medical device manufacturing, and robotics

Meanwhile new modern developments both along Rt-128 [such as Post on the site of the former USPS mail processing facility] and in the Alewife Area have led to new types of commuter patterns [exclusive of the traditional commute into core Boston / Cambridge]

Buses operated by companies, groups of companies, or developers of R&D parks are best placed to accommodate a "Private T-like" connection to existing or possibly upgraded T stations
 

tangent

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When you have reached 95% (or more) capacity of existing infrastructure, then don't build new housing or commercial space without first building new capacity.
 

Arlington

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When you have reached 95% (or more) capacity of existing infrastructure, then don't build new housing or commercial space without first building new capacity.
The problem with declarations like "we're at 95%" is that you assume that modal mix and vehicle capacity are fixed which they are not.

Raising prices is a way to signal the shortage to users and to enlist help in creating alternatives. New building can still be mixed use in the core or apartment towers with no parking rights if you are worried about road use. Higher road prices would invite/incentivize more efficient use of each lane-mile (HOV/Bus/Bike/Walk; elimination of street parking and raising prices on any that remains)

In the rest of the economy, we've never run out of any industrial input (and rarely gotten to a "95% used"status) for any other critical economic input because/when/if we allowed prices to rise and created an incentive for alternatives or conservation*

Rising prices of timber caused the innovation of coal mining (and steam engines to pump water out of them
Rising prices of whale oil and beeswax signaled the need for coal gas and kerosene for lighting.
Emergence of electricity caused the gas companies to invent the mineralized mantle (tripled light output)
More cost-efficient new thing ultimately drives the piggish old thing to novelty niche status
Horsepower got expensive when 25% of ag output was going to hay...and then internal combustion and electric motors drove horse carriages to novelty status.

Crowded free roads for commuting to work is a pricing problem, not a capacity problem.


*In contrast, we have plenty of "ran out of free stuff" examples like the Currituck Duck, American Bison, the Passenger Pigeon, where things did get used up because they seemed to be "free for the taking" As long as roads are free they'll always operate at 95% capacity and being at 95% capacity only tells you they're underpriced, not that they can't move more people.
 
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