All over the state, traffic congestion takes money out of our economy and your wallet.
Massachusetts has some of the world's smartest, most productive, and innovative workers, and we make them sit for hours in soul-crushing traffic.
It is worst around our major cities: over $1,800 per driver per year in the Boston area in 2016 - and over $2,000 in 2017, according to INRIX.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Watch this video to learn how we can do a smarter job of managing our limited road space:
Congestion is not just about cars and drivers. Buses use our crowded roads, too. Watch this video to see how smarter tolling can improve the rides of people on one of the busiest routes, the MBTA’s #111 bus. We’ve got a Spanish-language version, too.
We need to change how we think about congestion and how to solve it.
Regions across the country and around the world have learned that fundamental economics - putting a fair value on a scarce resource, in this case pavement at rush hour - is a tool that solves congestion.
A July 2018 segment on WBZ-TV explained how traffic is choking the Boston area, and how smarter tolling can help:
And while no one likes to pay more, a recent public opinion poll shows that a majority of voters actually support smarter tolling if the revenue is used to solve congestion. People get it.
Of course, we are paying for congestion right now with lost time, air pollution, and quality of life because we can't spend time with family and friends when we are stuck in traffic.
What to do?
MassDOT should start with a pilot program to provide discounted tolls to drivers who drive off-peak. This would free up road space for those who need to drive during rush hour.
Getting just 5% of cars off the road at rush hour can lead to traffic reductions of up to 20%. That’s why your commute feels so much better on a Friday morning in the summer.
Imagine having that feeling every day.
What do experts say?
- Traffic congestion is taking a toll on Boston. Should Boston take a toll on congestion? asks a February 2018 article on Boston.com
- In 2017, Greater Boston Drivers Spent An Average Of 60 Hours In Traffic During Peak Times, according to a February 2018 story at WBUR.org
- "We can either have free roads, or roads that work," writes Mike Widmer, former President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, in a March 2018 issue of CommonWealth.
- Off-peak toll discount pilot program deserves a shot, states a May 2018 Boston Globe editorial
- Toll discount program better than standing still, says the Pioneer Institute in a July 2018 Boston Business Journal op-ed.
- Opportunity for Baker to seize the moment on toll test, writes a Boston Globe editorial in July 2018.
- Baker whiffs on toll plan, misses opportunity to address traffic woes, says a Boston Globe editorial in July 2018.
- "AAA Northeast is supportive of the proposed short-term pilot program aimed at mitigating congestion in metro Boston. On a long-term basis, it is imperative to ensure that any policy with the goal of reducing congestion is fair, sustainable, transparent, and equitable to all users." - AAA Northeast Smarter Tolling Statement, July 2018
What can you do?
It's our move, Massachusetts.
Transportation for Massachusetts is a coalition of 70+ member and partner organizations all across Massachusetts. We work for a modern, statewide transportation network that is clean, reliable, efficient, and provides transportation choices to improve everyone's quality of life and economic opportunity. Transportation is important to every person, family, business and community, and we must invest and plan responsibly now to protect our future. Established in 2010, T4MA is supported by foundation grants and individual donations. Learn more at t4ma.org.