As if the bad news with the increase in parking costs at T stations wasn’t enough, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority has approved ludicrous toll increases across the board at booths surrounding Boston.
Let’s be ruthlessly mathematical about all this: Tolls are doubling at the Ted Williams Tunnel from $3.50 to $7.00, and to $9.00 for taxis. Along with the $2.60 sit-down fee, and $2.25 airport fee, we’re looking at $13.85 just to get out of the airport. At about 3 miles to downtown Boston, that comes to around $22.25. With gas prices dropping, it’s quickly becoming economical to drive through east boston (the long way) just to dodge the toll. Also, did we mention $22.25 to go 3 miles?
That’s just Logan. I-90 tolls are also increasing to $2 at both Allston-Brighton and the Weston booths. Again, cash or fastlane only. If McDonalds will take my credit card for a $1 4-pack of chicken nuggets, I want to see the city looking at taking my card for a $7 toll at the tunnel, or the $2 tolls on I-90. The cash-only operation feels exactly like what this proposal feels like: greedy.
To be fair, the gut response here is just as it was for the T parking increases: we get it, you’re broke, but we expect the people running the show to get more creative than “raise the tolls again!” It’s almost as if this plan was designed to garner public outrage. Living and working in the city, I rarely encounter these tolls and the hubris of this increase even offends me.
Commuters won’t be the only ones to suffer. If Mayor Menino expects to draw more shoppers into the city with his “Mayor’s Special” (see previous post) to bolster retail sales, this certainly is not the kind of news he needs. Boston is working hard to distance itself from the suburbs, and in doing so, from that formidable spending power.
What we need are the politicians to stand up for the people of this city. These are the people who just two weeks ago said “don’t take away our taxes, we want to fund you,” and who I imagine are strongly reconsidering their opinion on the matter. Damned if you do…
I, for one, will be happily clogging up the small residential streets to avoid the booths if these fare hikes are passed. Maybe if enough people do this, someone at the Turnpike Authority will remember that these highways were originally built to solve traffic congestion and improve quality of driving, not just as a revenue source.