I live on a cut-through. People cut down my street to avoid traffic on Boylston Street.
Boylston Street itself is a cut-through. A large number of people drive the length of Boylston from the Wellesley line to Brookline without stopping. These people add nothing to the Newton economy but traffic, congestion, pollution, noise, heartache, &c.
My solution (to the latter problem) is the Newton Charge (a name I almost surely will change). The Newton Charge is a fluctuating fee to be paid by any motorist who enters Newton and exits within a period that reasonably precludes the possibility of having stopped to dine at one of our restaurants, to visit one of our residents, to enjoy one of our parks, or to patronize any of our commercial establishments.
You drive through without stopping, you pay a small fee to offset the costs of your driving.
At this point, I'm thinking that the city border will be divided into 6 or 7 gates. As you drive on a road that passes through the gate (Boylston Street at the Wellesley line, Galen Street at the Watertown line, Commonwealth Avenue at the Weston line, &c.) you'd pass by FastLane and license plate readers. (This is already standard technology in use in London, Stockholm, and anywhere else where there is congestion pricing.)
The system would note your entry through the gate. The system would note your exit through another gate. If you come into one gate and out another gate within a certain amount of time, you'd be considered a passer-through and be charged. If you go in through one gate and back out the same gate, you would not be considered a passer-through. If you go in one gate and out another gate, but the time between is long enough, you will be considered to have stopped in Newton and will not be charged.
The price would depend on both your entry and exit gate and the time of day. More for longer trips during peak times. Less for shorter trips at night.
If you come into Newton on Needham Street and fifteen minutes later enter Boston on Beacon Street, you didn't stop at Sweet Tomatoes for a slice along the way. We'll charge you $.50 during evening and morning rush hours and $.25 at other times.
Traffic on the 'Pike would be exempt, but we will consider that you have passed through a gate if you get on or off. So, no cutting through Newton to avoid the tolls.
Split the revenue three ways:
- To Newton for road maintenance and to finance traffic calming
- To the Commonwealth for road maintenance on state-maintained roads
- To the MBTA to finance improvements to public transit