Congestion toll in Boston?

Arlington

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^ Is it fair to say that all congestion charges, ever, have been proposed and implemented with transit improvements (including some, usually bus, which precede the charge's implementation)?
 

ant8904

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That's a debatable claim. One can argument that the existing examples in the world says yes. But then there's NYC where they are in a similar state disrepair. But they are essentially implementing a congestion charge with a promise to see transit repair back to a state of good repair. Though also at the same time, NYC mains the one system that in the country to covers everywhere that should precede a congestion charge.

But that fair that it's debatable at all means that it is not fair to just say all congestion charges. For to just be plainly "to be fair to say", it has to be not a debatable point. But have NYC with arguments that says it it is a counterexample and arguments that it is not a counterexample at the same time.
 

HelloBostonHi

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Since I don't think this got brought up here, in the big traffic study they released a few days ago the state basically said no to congestion charging entirely but proposed new "managed lanes", a phrase that was used over 8 times in the document I read, but basically means an HOV lane that single occupancy vehicles can pay to use as well. Think DC has something similar, express lanes of sorts. Personally think that it sounds like a pretty stupid and pretty regressive idea.
 

Arlington

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I am studying London, Stockholm, Singapore, Milan, and Gothenburg.
 

chmeeee

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Since I don't think this got brought up here, in the big traffic study they released a few days ago the state basically said no to congestion charging entirely but proposed new "managed lanes", a phrase that was used over 8 times in the document I read, but basically means an HOV lane that single occupancy vehicles can pay to use as well. Think DC has something similar, express lanes of sorts. Personally think that it sounds like a pretty stupid and pretty regressive idea.
Is there any foreshadowing in the fact that the lane formerly known as HOV on 93 through Somerville has been relabeled "EXPRESS LANE" with no HOV requirements?
 

George_Apley

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Is there any foreshadowing in the fact that the lane formerly known as HOV on 93 through Somerville has been relabeled "EXPRESS LANE" with no HOV requirements?
People have been willfully violating the Somerville/Charlestown HOV lane for years with few consequences. Because it's not separated by a barrier for most of its length, folks regularly hop over to it from the travel lanes.
 

Arlington

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^ in Virginia the PPP-built, dynamically-tolled lanes on I-66, 95 495 and 395 are called HOT (High Occupancy Toll)

I took I-93 "Express" as simply DOT-speak for "can't do the exits'(the lane was temporarily un-HOVd due to Tobin construction and, as ever, can't do Assembly-Sullivan and Leverett-Storrow)
 

tangent

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^ Is it fair to say that all congestion charges, ever, have been proposed and implemented with transit improvements (including some, usually bus, which precede the charge's implementation)?
So what transit improvements (around Boston) would be sufficient to offset the negative effects of a congestion charge.

Say for argument the goal was to reduce peak traffic volumes by 5% and keep them 5% lower indefinitely. Can the state even do that level of modeling? The studies don't imply any level of fidelity in their modeling.

Google and Apple have all the real low level traffic data... maybe they can share with the state.
 

bakgwailo

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So what transit improvements (around Boston) would be sufficient to offset the negative effects of a congestion charge.

Say for argument the goal was to reduce peak traffic volumes by 5% and keep them 5% lower indefinitely. Can the state even do that level of modeling? The studies don't imply any level of fidelity in their modeling.

Google and Apple have all the real low level traffic data... maybe they can share with the state.
Is it legal for them to share it? If so, some enterprising police department should just use it for dynamic speed traps :roll:
 

tangent

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Is it legal for them to share it? If so, some enterprising police department should just use it for dynamic speed traps :roll:
I was thinking more just the aggregate volume data. The data that turns a road from green to yellow, to red, to dark red. Along with the effects and affects of accidents.

The type of data you would need to really simulate the effects of volume reductions.

You would need to do surveys to figure out what pricing models would cause people to change commute times. Unless you go ahead and try to put some congestion rationing into effect as I mentioned up-thread.

What I would be most wary of is merely a tax on congestion to pay for people's pet transit projects. It encourages congestion.
 

JeffDowntown

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You would need to do surveys to figure out what pricing models would cause people to change commute times. Unless you go ahead and try to put some congestion rationing into effect as I mentioned up-thread.
One of the biggest challenges in these public policy issues is that surveys do not actually give you meaningful results. The only way to actually measure price sensitivity is through experimentation. people notoriously lie on surveys (not even intentionally, they may just want to look good, or whatever).

And to enact public policy it is really hard to have the balls to run an experiment that is large enough to create meaningful results. It takes a lot of political will and burns a lot of political capital.
 

Arlington

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INRIX, Strava Metro and others have lots of (anonymized) trip data.

CHeck out INRIX's Boston page

Forecasting is inexact, a great example being how MBTA fare hikes do (or didn't) discourage transit ridership in the past.

But you should be able to say that what you're doing to the MBTA has a goal of boosting ridership, say, 10% at peak times.

But there are things they could do:
(1) Waiting until the transit transformations to Orange, Red, & Green have mostly delivered new, longer, faster, more frequent rail transit
(2) Waiting until the bus garages have been expanded so they can buy and field more buses at rush hour
(3) Freezing (or even slightly reducing) transit fares*
(4) Boston using its fees to implement free or $1 circulator buses between current transit hubs and more distant employment centers (I'd love them to merge all services currently operating in Longwood onto a single fare system)

*My suggestion: introduce time of day pricing on the T:
- Free entry before 6:30am, between 10:30am and 2:30pm and after 8pm
- Rush hour prices would stay where they are
- Goal: shift trips out of the peak; give peak riders better value for $
 

HelloBostonHi

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I hate to say it, I really do, but late night free entry might encourage the wrong kind of behavior in MBTA stations. More begging, more homeless encampments, more harassment etc. While those are all problems with their own causes and own needs, I just think letting people wander into stations freely encourages it further, whereas having to pay provides a minor deterrent. Therefore I'd support a half off discount for off peak, with tap in and out with max fare penalties to overtime stays to discourage loitering.
 

JeffDowntown

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For so many reasons in AFC 2.0 the T should be doing tap-in tap-out.

For example, it is the only way to collect accurate point-to-point usage date.

It also enables distance based fares, if ever desirable.
 

Arlington

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For so many reasons in AFC 2.0 the T should be doing tap-in tap-out. For example, it is the only way to collect accurate point-to-point usage date.
It also enables distance based fares, if ever desirable.
Commuter Rail AFC 2.0 will have tap-in/tap-out right?
 

fattony

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I hate to say it, I really do, but late night free entry might encourage the wrong kind of behavior in MBTA stations. More begging, more homeless encampments, more harassment etc. While those are all problems with their own causes and own needs, I just think letting people wander into stations freely encourages it further, whereas having to pay provides a minor deterrent. Therefore I'd support a half off discount for off peak, with tap in and out with max fare penalties to overtime stays to discourage loitering.
That sounds reasonable.
 

tangent

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https://www.boston.com/cars/local-news/2019/08/14/managed-lanes-massachusetts-traffic

"The new lanes allowed the highway to carry 23 percent more cars, while increasing the average speeds by up to 27 mph for those who paid the toll and by 6 mph for those who stayed in the general lanes. And in their first three years, the toll lanes generated nearly $75 million in revenue to be reinvested in the corridor. Bus ridership on I-405 also increased by 5 percent."

The weakness in the "managed lanes" concept is that you have to add lanes otherwise you are cold turkey reducing existing capacity converting existing lanes which will never fly.

And the highways that would benefit most would be the ones that are physically constrained for expansion going into and out of the city. Even rt 128 doesn't seem like it would be politically feasible to add 2 to 4 lanes for any great length.

The rt 93 reversible contraflow "zipper" lane would seem to be the only model that would work where you sacrifice a lane in opposite direction during peak times. And I think that could only work potentially on the Mass pike and rt 93 north. As it already exists on the Southeast expressway it is difficult to see how making this a toll lane now will do anything but increase traffic in the non-toll lanes. Which makes running an experiment difficult.

I am warming to congestion pricing, but I think the risk of reinforcing/rewarding the state with higher revenue as service is degraded is very real. Things could just continue to get worse and additional monies wasted. And it is hard to envision a practical and politically acceptable alternative that would actually improve congestion rather than merely raise revenue.

A reservation system with hard limits (say up to 90% capacity, with larger fees for some percentage that don't have advance reservations say 5%) on cars allowed in particular areas could be effective at keeping traffic below the critical thresholds for gridlock.

I think it would be hard to sell, but perhaps a reservation system with congestion pricing up to 95% and $30 fines for cars above the threshold could be rolled out in downtown areas on local roads where there is the greatest congestion first. Seaport, Airport, certain zones in Downtown Boston come to mind. There the biggest political difficulty is the residents who would have to be either given free reservations or have a great discount on reservations and make local residents first in line to make it politically viable.
 

tysmith95

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https://www.boston.com/cars/local-news/2019/08/14/managed-lanes-massachusetts-traffic

"The new lanes allowed the highway to carry 23 percent more cars, while increasing the average speeds by up to 27 mph for those who paid the toll and by 6 mph for those who stayed in the general lanes. And in their first three years, the toll lanes generated nearly $75 million in revenue to be reinvested in the corridor. Bus ridership on I-405 also increased by 5 percent."

The weakness in the "managed lanes" concept is that you have to add lanes otherwise you are cold turkey reducing existing capacity converting existing lanes which will never fly.

And the highways that would benefit most would be the ones that are physically constrained for expansion going into and out of the city. Even rt 128 doesn't seem like it would be politically feasible to add 2 to 4 lanes for any great length.

The rt 93 reversible contraflow "zipper" lane would seem to be the only model that would work where you sacrifice a lane in opposite direction during peak times. And I think that could only work potentially on the Mass pike and rt 93 north. As it already exists on the Southeast expressway it is difficult to see how making this a toll lane now will do anything but increase traffic in the non-toll lanes. Which makes running an experiment difficult.

I am warming to congestion pricing, but I think the risk of reinforcing/rewarding the state with higher revenue as service is degraded is very real. Things could just continue to get worse and additional monies wasted. And it is hard to envision a practical and politically acceptable alternative that would actually improve congestion rather than merely raise revenue.

A reservation system with hard limits (say up to 90% capacity, with larger fees for some percentage that don't have advance reservations say 5%) on cars allowed in particular areas could be effective at keeping traffic below the critical thresholds for gridlock.

I think it would be hard to sell, but perhaps a reservation system with congestion pricing up to 95% and $30 fines for cars above the threshold could be rolled out in downtown areas on local roads where there is the greatest congestion first. Seaport, Airport, certain zones in Downtown Boston come to mind. There the biggest political difficulty is the residents who would have to be either given free reservations or have a great discount on reservations and make local residents first in line to make it politically viable.
I don't see a zipper working on I-90. I-90 does seem to get more reverse traffic and less peak direction traffic than I-93.
 

Arlington

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Today I learned 2 things:

1) NYC has adopted congestion charges, but the "London style" won't go into effect until 2021
- the Taxi/FHV charge started immediately upon adoption(this April)
- The "London Style" charge will happen in 2021 (because the MTA Triboro authority (TBTA) has been given the mission of actually planning, setting, and collecting the charge, they've done an RFI for EZPass-and-Plate Pass systems
- Early estimates are in the $15 for cars and $23 for trucks, with the riverside highways kinda exempted
- $15B in "lockbox" funding will be devoted exclusively to Bus, Subway/SIRTA, & LIRR (and maybe AirTrain) transit projects
- Great "how will this work" questions in this NYT article:
- Whole story in Wikipedia

2) This thread should be merged with another old thread on a specific congestion zone plan:
 

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