Tag Archives: parking


News articles extoll Massachusetts’ wealth. From the Boston Globe on June 28: “The Massachusetts miracle: rich and thriving.” In January, “A Waterfront that’s rapidly transforming,” which reports that $1.5 billion of construction was taking place with $850 million about to begin. These new properties mean exploding tax revenue for Boston and higher revenue for Massachusetts with those construction workers’ salaries and the sales taxes contractors are spending on materials.
Massachusetts has been disappointed in actual revenues collected versus revenues predicted, but the numbers are still impressive for both the state and the city.
This leaves questions: If we’re so rich why can’t we afford public transportation at least as good as Paris, which has struggled with high unemployment? Why can’t we keep day care at UMass Boston, not to mention building excellent facilities? Why do our leaders cry poor when schools need funding, when roads need repairing, when rail needs expanding? Why are we so fearful of spending money, while at the same time everyone brags that we’re rolling in it? It’s a mystery.

Do you follow plastic surgery? If so, you might have noticed an interesting spectacle going on in the boobs department. Ivanka Trump and Melania Trump have matching chests. Same size. Same look. And they’re not even related. They don’t look like any of the women I know, except maybe Angelina Jolie, who has a good excuse. (I don’t actually know Ms. Jolie, but I’ve seen photos.) Maybe same surgeon? Maybe the company producing the product makes them only in one size. Who knows?

Then there is Charlie Baker. Will he become a Democrat? Not in next year’s election, since he is popular with voters from both parties.
But, as a Republican, where does he go from here? Nowhere. We saw Mitt Romney embarrass himself repeatedly in his presidential campaign as he tried to please Republican voters by walking back from all he told us he believed in while he was governor. Charlie doesn’t seem like that sort of person. While he hedged on global warming the first time he ran for governor, he finally split with fellow national Republicans and admitted he was concerned about it.
On most matters he’s more in line with Democrats than national Republicans. Charlie is unlikely to get an appointed position in Washington, given his opinions of Trump, and it is unlikely he could win the Republican presidential nomination given his opposition to many of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s policies. Charlie is the antithesis of those guys—the kind of old-fashioned Republican many of us started out to be before the Republican Party left us standing in the sea without a boat.
Charlie could become the head of some company that he’d relocate to Massachusetts with the appropriate tax breaks or be named president of a prestigious university, and he’d have a fine life. But if he hopes to achieve higher office—president, let’s say—he’ll find little support in his own party, and would be welcomed by Democrats. Interesting to watch.

Why are we building parking garages that will attract more cars when we don’t have enough space for the cars already driving into Boston?
City leaders are bringing two government-subsidized garages holding 2,100 cars to the Seaport rather than spending the money on trolley service or other public transit (Red Line extension, anyone?). Traffic is already stopped dead because the Seaport has only limited access to other parts of the city. As if we didn’t already know, The Economist concluded that, “the costs and availability of parking affect people’s commuting habits more than the rapid buses and light rail lines that cities are so keen to build.”
That means parking will only attract more cars. We shouldn’t build parking if, as the mayor’s Imagine Boston 2030 concludes, we want less reliance on cars. But without parking, we must provide those rapid buses and light rail lines. Technology in streetcars is sophisticated—Seaport leaders should visit Bordeaux, France. That city has streetcars powered by rails that respond to the streetcar passing over but can’t be activated by a person stepping on them or a bicycle crossing them. Street cars running on those wide Seaport streets could move people to transportation hubs like Andrew, Aquarium and South Station.
MassPort is in on the act too, building a new garage at the airport when other cities are putting their money into rail lines to airports. Instead of providing more parking, Massport could extend the Blue Line and improve the sad Silver Line, which now takes four or five times as long to get to the airport as does a cab.
Rapid transit doesn’t work unless it is rapid. That’s what we need, not more parking that will slow us down even more.

Mayor Walsh: We’re okay with bold

This is an advice column. To Marty Walsh. With pictures. The message: You’ve been bold. Expand your efforts.

The mayor’s State of the City speech showed his intention to solve two of the Boston’s thorniest problems—housing and education. Downtown residents need affordable housing and good public education as much as other neighborhoods. But neighborhoods in Boston’s densest areas have additional problems. The persistent lack of solutions affects downtown residents’ everyday life.

Since Marty seems to be taking bold action on two important fronts, we’d like to remind him of the innovative steps other city leaders have taken to improve quality of life for center city residents. Such steps require daring and fortitude, and we think he just might have those qualities.


Here is a solution from London:


Picture 1


This photo shows how seriously London residents take cleanliness. If a dog fouls a sidewalk or street in Kensington or Chelsea, the owner could be fined 2,500 pounds sterling, or about 3,700 U.S. dollars. (There was another sign that said the top fine was 1,000 pounds, but I liked this one better.)

The City of Boston website says there is a law that one must clean up after one’s dog, but no fine is mentioned. With no consequence, the dog owners with low IQs—that must be the reason they don’t pick up because it is so easy to do so—show no inclination to follow the rules.

A large fine, publicized on signs throughout the neighborhoods, then levied by alert city officials, would be a deterrent.


Picture 2


This sign accompanied a sofa that was left on a South Kensington street. In Boston we are lucky—the trash guys pick up stuff like that. But televisions and toilets, which they don’t pick up, can sit on the sidewalks for days. No fine apparently goes with this sign, probably because it is impossible to tell who put the offending item out in public view. Nevertheless, calling it an environmental crime raises the stakes.


No pictures exist for the rest of these ideas taken from other cities. But Mayor Walsh could copy the boldest ones and endure the complaints that will surely come. Then, within a year, everyone would accept them because their lives would be better.


Charge big bucks for resident parking stickers. Bostonians, like other Americans, are guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but that does not include free parking. Parking stickers should cost a significant amount per year—50 to 75 dollars for the first car and double and triple that amount for a second and third car per household. Even though half the people in some downtown neighborhoods have no car, parking is still difficult. Charging for stickers would remove a few cars, and it would raise funds for other needed services.


Charge big bucks to drive into Boston. Forbes Magazine reports that Boston is the ninth most traffic-congested city in America. Cities in other parts of the world have successfully attacked this problem. Singapore, Oslo, and Stockholm have designated congestion zones and imposed fees to enter them. London, another example, charges the equivalent of about 17 dollars for the authorization to drive into the zone between seven a.m. and six p.m. on weekdays. The charge reduces traffic, but it also reduces toxic traffic emissions, a goal Mayor Walsh has said he wants to achieve. Funds raised supplement London’s transport system. Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a new source of revenue for our MBTA?

Wouldn’t it also be nice for those people who must drive into Boston to have fewer vehicles on the road so they don’t have to waste an estimated 35 hours annually sitting in traffic?

Congestion charges were at first unpopular with Londoners. Then they decided they loved it. Judging by London’s continued success as a financial center, the congestion charge did nothing to stunt its economic growth, and may have stimulated it instead.

Mayor Bloomberg tried to initiate such a thing in New York, but that city’s residents were not worldly enough to take such a step.

Many Bostonians worry defensively that Boston isn’t world class. Taking any of these steps would put Boston front and center into the category of cities taking important steps toward making themselves better places to live.