I have been really interested in transit and urban development policy lately. During some research, I stumbled upon Congestion Charging Zones (seen in London, Stockholm, and other cities across the world).
I have put together a proposal for a Boston Congestion zone. You can find it on imgur here: http://imgur.com/PIOMwyC. Part of this proposal would include:
$9 charge for entering the Zone. Reduced rate for Taxi's and Ride Sharing vehicles. 20% would go towards road/bridges initiatives, 80% towards mass transit initiatives (Commuter Rail, Subway, Bus, bike lanes)
Dubious whether this forum is the appropriate venue for such a discussion, but I will say that having experienced traffic in downtown London, congestion pricing is no deterrent. It is simply another tax which cloaks itself in a noble purpose but will fail at fulfilling that purpose. It will NOT reduce congestion. People are going to get there by whatever means is the best no matter how much it costs them ($30 to park for a couple hours in the Seaport? Been there done that). Listen to any traffic report, any day, even middays, and you'll know that right now the best option for most to get around Boston isn't always the T. This would not change that, not for decades anyway, because that's the time it takes to build anything nowadays. Meanwhile, if you need to get around downtown and cannot practically or reliably use the T to do it, you're still going to drive. Why, then, implement congestion pricing? Just for the "free" tax money that can then be mismanaged and abused? No thanks.
Cities like London can get away with a congestion charge because of the robust public transit infrastructure they have. We could not here. At least not until the T is a viable option for more people (and can actually handle all of those people).
Fixing the Zone boundaries is tricky. In London, on the upper deck of a bus (great view forward--lets you see clearly why the traffic isn't moving) I fell into conversation with someone who told me they had just expanded the congestion zone to include his residence; he now was exempt from the congestion charge because he lived within the zone.
Fees, taxes, subsidies, distortions. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. But it may be a good idea for the folks in Boston to take responsibility for their higher transportation costs rather than making folks living and working in the suburbs pay.
There is no inherent reason for it to take decades to buy and install new signal systems to allow trains/trolleys to run faster and closer together, if they have funds in hand from a congestion tax. Ordering new rolling stock does take a long time...
There is no inherent reason for it to take decades to buy and install new signal systems to allow trains/trolleys to run faster and closer together, if they have funds in hand from a congestion tax.
That's a little more complicated than rolling on down to the Best Buy at the South Bay Center (conveniently outside of the OP's proposed congestion pricing zone!) and getting it off the shelf... might not take decades, but it'll still take years and LOTS of money.
If you think London traffic is bad with the charge, it was worse before. Total SOV traffic is down, but transit is faster and better-patronized. And everyone's commutes (including SOV & taxis) are now faster (as charges are reinvested in transit) including crossrail .
Boston's natural zone is bounded by the Grand Junction on the north, - the NEC on the South, - Mass Ave on the west, and - Summer St on the east. (BCEC to Black Falcon)
Congestion charges (and a land tax) are the perfect way to pay for projects like: -Red-Blue -NSRL -High capacity Orange line (fleet & signals) -15 minute CR headways to Lynn, Woburn, Brandeis (128), & Westwood - 3 car Green line trains
These last three are.the kind that you want to implement at exactly the time the zone goes I to effect.
When I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder, shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils, it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it. --H.D. Thoreau, Walden, 1854