Congestion pricing to reduce traffic is only half a solution
Re “The gridlock remedy? Stick a price tag on it.” (Page A1, Sept. 27): While it is undeniable that the area’s traffic congestion harms the economy and robs Massachusetts residents at all economic levels of precious time that could be put to better use, the solution of congestion pricing that Kara Miller puts forth in her front-page commentary is only half a remedy.
There must be an alternative to jumping into the driver’s seat. That alternative is public transit. To clear the blockages on our roadways, it will be necessary to both make peak period commuting more expensive and make taking transit convenient, efficient, and attractively priced.
Our transit system was conceived and laid out more than 100 years ago. The hub-and-spoke layout no longer meets the needs of a vast number of residents. Not only do we need to increase the capacity and reliability of service in the core system but we also must connect outlying areas to make trips more efficient.
If we could get even a portion of drivers onto public transit, the benefits to those who must drive, and to the environment, would be great. But that requires incentives in both directions. We must have a better transit system.
We need more seamless rail connections, safer streets
I thank Kara Miller for her commentary supporting congestion pricing in the Boston area. Yet while I applaud her advocacy of using the added revenues to enhance the lives of lower-income residents, we should go much further.
We also need to invest in a massive expansion of our public transportation system to get more cars off the roads. Linking North and South Stations to provide a seamless ride from one side of our metropolitan area to the other is the kind of project that has already been done in many cities, such as Philadelphia. The Rail Link has long been a priority of the Sierra Club and other organizations and elected officials. It would certainly increase my transit options in my Fort Hill neighborhood.
We must also redesign many of our streets to encourage walking and bicycling. I live above Roxbury Community College, and every time I cross Columbus Avenue on foot, I feel I am taking my life in my hands. In the nearly 40 years that I have owned my house, I’ve been aware of multiple accidents in the few blocks between Roxbury Crossing and Jackson Square, including several fatalities — most recently of a pedestrian who was run over several weeks ago at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Ritchie Street.
Reducing the stress of Boston traffic entails not only inducing motorists to alter the timing of their trips but also enhancing more benign alternatives to driving.
The writer is cochair of the Massachusetts Sierra Club’s Transportation Committee.
A charge for enduring rush hour adds insult to injury
It seems that there is already an incentive for drivers to steer clear of traffic congestion: avoiding traffic jams, which most reasonable people dread. Motorists who drive at peak times usually do not have an option, and charging them for driving at these times would be adding insult to injury. Maybe we should go further and employ technology to deliver shocks to those of us unfortunate enough to have to drive at busy times.