Could congestion pricing help solve Boston’s traffic problems?

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It’s no secret that parking in Boston is a struggle, especially with the constant traffic.

City councilors are considering an action Wednesday that could help alleviate some of those struggles through congestion pricing.

Massachusetts drivers spend roughly 40 peak hours in urban-area traffic congestion every year, according to a study in the Herald last year. The national average is 27. Boston was ranked as having the fourth-worst traffic in the world in the INRIX 2022 Global Traffic Scorecard.

This congestion pricing plan would try to tackle that by generating money to fix the state’s struggling transit system, but it would fall on drivers.

Parking problems are just a way of life for drivers in Boston. But now, the Boston City Council is hoping to change that. The proposed solution on the table? Congestion pricing.

Boston City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson — the person pushing this — has the attention of his colleagues with this proposal but for competing reasons. Some agree that the state desperately needs a fix for traffic, while others say drivers shouldn’t carry the burden until there’s an efficient transit system in all areas of the city.

Fernandes Anderson believes additional tolls for people driving into “congestion zones” would help bridge the $567 million budget gap the MBTA is facing this year.

“The vast number of vehicles entering our city can negatively impact quality of life of residents,” she said. “Congestion pricing could be a viable measure to help alleviate traffic congestion and improve air quality in urban areas.”

The pricing of these congestion zones would be based on the location and time of day people are traveling, like the plan that New York City just approved.

However, it’s not just city council already speaking up about how tricky this plan could be. The president of the Retailers Association said shift workers who have no say over when they commute to Boston would be unfairly targeted.

He points out all of this is coming at a time when the T is considering lower fares for lower-income residents.

The MassGOP is speaking out against the proposal, arguing that it would be unfair to people who have to drive to Boston for various reasons.

“Think about someone who is undergoing cancer treatment they along with families will be unfairly burdened with additional expenses to get access to these services,” MassGOP spokesperson Logan Trupiano said.

Not all city councilors are convinced that this will work for Boston, especially with a historically unreliable public transportation system that’s at least $567 million under budget.

“People aren’t going to get out of their cars if the T isn’t working,” Boston City Councilor Erin Murphy said. “But open for the conversation but I am always weary of taxing anyone.”

But Boston Mayor Michelle Wu isn’t ruling it out.

“Anything should be on the table so I know the state is looking at all kinds of tools like this as well, so eager to partner with the city council and the state to learn more about how this could be applied but we are trying to fight traffic every single day,” Wu said.

The proposal was referred to the committee on planning, development and transportation.

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