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There are 19 comments on Five Questions Raised by “Seeing Red,” the Boston Globe Series on Traffic

  1. At present, Green Line B, C, and E trains running above ground must follow the same rules as cars when responding to red lights at street intersections (stop and wait for the red light to change to green). Technology exists to program traffic signals so that trains always have the right of way (a green light) / preference over automobile traffic when passing through intersections. Use of this technology would shorten commuting time for riders on these Green. Line trains. Providing Charlie card readers at all of the doors of green line trains would allow rush hour commuters to pay their fares more reliably–generating badly needed funding for infrastructure improvements.

  2. Whatever BU does, it has to be careful to take into consideration the people who drive because public transit is not currently an option for them. Punishing people who drive in without offering an alternative is cruel and could negatively affect more people who already struggle financially and don’t have other options or flexibility.

  3. The first issue that needs to be addressed is the traffic lights. The traffic lights are baseed on a number of seconds for the red light and a few seconds for the green light and nothing to do with the sensor that sence the road with most cars and more traffic.

    Second, wwe need traffic police that actually coordinate traffic and not just telling when the light is green and when it is red as if motorists are color blind.

    Try these small logical changes before moving to another money collection scam.

  4. The article is spot on when it says to take positive action and make transportation more attractive rather than punitive for drivers. What it does not say is that the key factors needed in Boston are these:
    Reliable, Frequent, Clean, and Safe.
    The T fails on every one and is appalling by comparison with transport in most major European cities. It is not just poor infrastructure but also a lack of transport etiquette among riders. Riding the T is stressful, smelly, and in some areas hazardous. That is a tough one to fix, but can be done with better surveillance, enforcement of regulations, and a good scrubbing.

  5. The Red Line opened in 1969? Really? I remember riding the Red Line as a young girl in the early 60s taking it into town or just joy riding with a friend for the price of a dime. Just which part of the Red Line are you talking about? That being said, our public transportation system has been woefully underfunded and neglected for decades (shame on the state legislature) and is in major need of modernization and expansion of the stations and trains. Six cars are no longer sufficient to carry the loads of people during rush hour. More needs to be done. Uber and Lyft drivers have also added significantly to the congestion. They have pulled people away from using the T (who can blame them really?), double park to pick up and drop off passengers thus tying up traffic, and are generally unfamiliar with the streets leading to dangerously distracted driving and slower speeds.

  6. I love trains, and I have tried, tried, tried to make the MBTA work for my commute from North Reading. But, no matter how hard I’ve tried, it always takes me longer to get to work via the T versus driving in. Factor in convenience and comfort, and the car wins every time. Based on my experience, this is a simple question of economics. Not only does the T have to be cheaper, but it has to demonstrate value to users above and beyond the value of driving. Therefore, your question 5, “Can you imagine if the subway and commuter rail systems were more reliable and reached more people?” is THE MOST IMPORTANT to consider.

  7. The two biggest factors for congestion, and everyone’s skeleton in the closet, is commuting via rideshare and instant food/grocery delivery. The number of people who commute via rideshare is obscene within the city, especially as they often drive slow and erratically as they stare down their GPS and double park in the worst spots in Boston’s notorious tiny streets. These two aspects bottleneck traffic everywhere and cause major slowdowns which have massive repercussions. Second, people are addicted to amazon deliveries and the ever-growing instant delivery services of everything from alcohol to snacks to groceries. These deliveries further bottleneck and increase congestion. Furthermore, the NY Times a week or two ago said that in NYC alone, 90,000 packages are stolen DAILY, which forces the purchasers to reorder and further increase these deliveries. Proportional numbers are likely here in the Hub.

    Strategies that penalize solo ride shares during commuting hours and major fines for Rideshare drivers who don’t pull over in an efficient and sensible distance to the curb can help curb bad behavior. Higher taxes should allow be levied against online shopping for single purchases, to reduce both the frequency of purchases and deliveries and reduce the enormous environnemental waste being produced.

  8. Thanks for this piece, especially the coverage of MIT’s parking and public transportation policies which are a model BU could adopt to fight climate change and urban gridlock. One point of correction: the MBTA Red Line opened in 1912, not in 1969 as stated in the article.

  9. Adopt a 4-day work week for all employees, with the ‘day off’ varying among staff in each office. That instantly take 20% of commuters off the roads and out of the parking lots every single day and doesn’t cost anyone a dime, nor does it over-tax our already inadequate T system. Plus, studies by Microsoft in Japan (and ones elsewhere) show a 20% INCREASE in productivity with a 4 day work week. In addition, it would stimulate the economy for employees to have more time off.

    1. One does wonder why the Globe gave such scant attention to the matter of workplace flexibility in its Part 2 section on “The Employer Problem.” Consequently, another question raised by the series should be: What does the research have to say about workplace flexibility? A 4-day work week merits attention, but so does telecommuting. The technology needed to make telecommuting both cost-effective and feasible is now in place, a significant improvement from when I first began working at Boston University 20 years ago. Could telecommuting being appropriately considered for those employees whose job performance and job descriptions warrant it? Perhaps professional organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has industry data on the pros and cons of such an approach as well as the recommended criteria for implementing an approach successfully. As the Globe states, even the elimination of a fraction of cars (say 5% of BU employees) can have an “outsized impact on congestion.” And beyond the advantages of mitigating traffic and carbon emissions, telecommuting is also an employee recruitment and retention issue as we seem to lose a number of employees to competitors such as Harvard and MIT in part due to their more liberal policies and benefits supporting workplace flexibility in general and telecommuting in particular.

  10. Thanks, there are a lot of good suggestions here. We need more pressure on our political leaders to improve the MBTA, increase alternative transportation options (bikes, scooters, skateboards, jet packs, human cannons, etc.). And yes, we need congestion pricing, higher parking fees, and higher fees on ride-sharing services.

  11. My commute takes about 18 minutes by bicycle. Since my bike was stolen I’ve been commuting by rideshare and bus. Rideshare takes about 20-25 minutes and bus takes about 40-60 minutes. Most days I wait 15+ minutes for a bus and it’s unbearably slow. Absolutely we need better signalling and procedures for busses which transport massive numbers of people across the city to be able to move quickly and get to their destination.

  12. A. Beth
    I couldn’t agree more..I’m not particularly fond of the fact that it seems as though I’m subsidizing people that live close enough to use public transportation with my parking fees. I understand what they’re trying to do here but it costs enough as it is for me to drive in from western mass each day.

  13. Congestion pricing would have to be far more expensive than people realize to make any kind of sizable dent in the congestion. $3 a day extra isn’t going to make someone quit their job in the city or move to be within walking distance of public transit (which would cost far more than an extra $500 a year).

    We’d have to talk about charges of $15 or $20 to really make an impact and no one will have the stomach for that.

    BU should seriously start considering moving staff outside of the urban core of the city. It would free up valuable real estate for academic buildings/research buildings. Figure out which administrative departments can either work remotely or move them to empty office space along 95 or out in the suburbs that companies have abandoned in order to move into Cambridge or Seaport.

  14. As someone who drives in, congestion pricing doesn’t strike me as fair. I work in a job at BU that allows no flexibility in start/end times, and won’t allow anyone to work from home. So, to be subjected to a higher cost to travel at peak times doesn’t strike me as equitable.

    Additionally, I drive in because I need my car to get to job number 2 after work, because having just one job doesn’t cover it, financially, for me and my family. Ergo, relying on public transportation isn’t an option for me. So, again, to then be further penalized monetarily by my place of employment by increasing parking fares to discourage driving to work doesn’t seem very equitable. It’s more expensive to live in the city, and therefore many employees have no choice but to find affordable housing in the suburbs, that aren’t always easily accessed by public transportation, as other posters have pointed out here.

    I’m all for being greener, but when the structures in place don’t allow for equity to factor in here, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

  15. The real culprit of Boston traffic jam is really these dumb stupid traffic lights in the city. It has nothing to do with the increase of the cars on the road. Yet it seems no one understands this. How can you NOT get a traffic jam when the green light at every intersection only lasts a few seconds while the red one is 2 minutes long??? Hello! So simple a problem and no one gets it. Who are responsible for adjust these traffic lights? the do-nothing City Hall! It’s a shame the high tech MIT elite Harvard or middle class BU can’t help Boston design a smart coordinating AI traffic light system to solve the problem. It’s so third world like. No wonder Bostonian drivers are the most notorious in the country because Boston has the worst traffic lights in the country – it’s not the inpatient drivers fault to rush yellow light or run red one, they are forced to do so if they don’t want to sit there look at their cell phone and overheat their car engine.

  16. We need to do a trail run with buses now both north and south of the city . About 4 miles to let people know buses for now is the way to go and and have employers to let employees to work from home. This might ease up traffic open hov lane for buses and carpooling.

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