The Massachusetts State Senate yesterday voted in support of a pilot program of smarter tolling that would reduce tolls at off-peak hours on certain roads, a key policy priority advanced by Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA). The provision, adopted as part of the Senate budget, will now be included in conference committee budget discussions with the House of Representatives.
“Congestion is not just a source of frustration, it costs the average driver $2,000 per year,” said Chris Dempsey, director of T4MA. “The good news is that if we can get a few cars off the road during rush hour it will make a huge impact. With smarter tolling, the cost savings may be enjoyed by a limited number of drivers willing to change their routine, but the implications on lessening congestion are exponentially larger. We are thrilled to have bipartisan support for this pilot, thanks to leadership from Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and Transportation Chairman Joe Boncore.”
The amendment comes on the heels of an awareness campaign launched by T4MA earlier this spring, which used a series of billboards and an online whiteboard video to educate drivers on how smarter tolling policies could reduce congestion. Similar programs have successfully demonstrated congestion reduction capabilities in regions around the country and the world.
In a MassINC Polling Group survey released in February, 60 percent of respondents voiced support for innovative rolling solutions like smarter tolling, and a recent Boston Globe editorial called on the Baker Administration to adopt a smarter tolling pilot program.
“Voters should be encouraged by the increased energy and enthusiasm shown by political leaders to make our transportation system work for all of Massachusetts,” Dempsey said. “Addressing congestion with innovative solutions like smarter tolling sends a clear message that it’s time to get serious about making improvements on the status quo.”
More information on T4MA’s smarter tolling proposals can be found at http://www.t4ma.org/traffic.