Can we outsmart traffic and parking woes?
There is only so much highway space available to accommodate the crush of cars commuting into and around Boston, just as there are only so many parking spaces in which to stash them once they’ve arrived.
But that zero-sum game doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t ways to relieve both traffic and parking logjams.
New apps are making it possible to search out parking spaces in Boston and compare prices being offered, as garages that have signed up with the spate of online sites are offering big discounts off their standard rates. There is even an Airbnb-like branch of the new app-based parking sector opening up, with owners of individual parking spaces putting them up for rent online. (One Back Bay condo owner lists his space on a parking app at the bargain basement price of $3.50 an hour.)
Meanwhile, when it comes to easing traffic congestion, the idea of the day is congestion toll pricing for drivers on the Massachusetts Turnpike and Tobin Bridge. The state budget approved this week by lawmakers includes a provision calling for a pilot study that would offer a discount on tolls to drivers using the roads during off-peak hours. The idea is to create an incentive for those with scheduling flexibility to drive at times that roads aren’t the most overloaded.
Even though the pilot programs calls for a 25 percent discount on tolls during off-peak hours, many are suspicious that congestion pricing would ultimately mean raising tolls from their baseline rate for those driving during peak time periods.
Herald columnist Michael Graham applauds Baker (in a bit of a backhanded way) for not taking the bait-and-switch argument that the plan would merely lead to lower tolls for off-peak users. “This is the sort of blue-state social engineering he’s usually more than happy to go along with,” writes Graham.
Baker may well hold his ground on behalf of toll payers. If he does, that puts the ball in his court to offer ideas to address the gridlock eating at the economic productivity of the region — and the nerves of those stuck in it.
Gov. Charlie Baker has to decide whether to sign legislation passed this week imposing a new $2 fee on car rentals to fund police training which would break his campaign pledge not to raise taxes or fees. (Boston Globe)
A bill raising the statewide age for buying tobacco to 21 passed the Legislature and was sent to Gov. Charlie Baker. (MassLive)
Baker said he supports the effort to rename the Fore River Bridge at the Weymouth-Quincy line in honor of slain Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna. (Patriot Ledger)
With the legislative session winding down, advocates for various causes are making their pitch for and against various pieces of legislation. Gene Declercq, Judy Norsigian, and Jo-Ann Rorie push legislation expanding access to midwives. Steve Dodge says a measure banning the production of fracked gas in Massachusetts is hypocritical.
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera releases an analysis of city finances over the next four years suggesting the municipality will continuously run deficits. The analysis was unveiled as the city negotiates with police and fire unions on new contracts. (Eagle-Tribune)
Some Methuen city councilors are balking at a memorandum of understanding that would lower huge police salary hikes because pay for many officers would still go up 18 to 20 percent. Police union officials say any changes in the memo would void the entire agreement and return salaries to the previous unprecedented levels, with pay for captains hitting $434,841 a year. (Eagle-Tribune)
A Lowell Sun editorial praises the school committee for dumping Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui Wednesday night and recommends a number of very specific personnel moves to improve the system.
Cities and towns are tacking a lot of added fees onto would-be operators of marijuana shops in their communities. (Boston Globe)
President Trump invited Russia President Vladimir Putin to the White House for another meeting in the fall, an invitation that caught Trump’s advisors off-guard as they continue to try to contain the fallout from the first meeting between the leaders last week. (New York Times)
Breaking with long-set precedent, Trump criticized the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate hikes, undercutting the central bank’s independence. (Wall Street Journal)
Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez is on the hot seat in his reelection bid for not using his position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to push through an immigration enforcement measure. (CommonWealth)
Linda Champion, one of three minority candidates vying for Suffolk County district attorney, slammed the call by a group led by former state senator Dianne Wilkerson and other members of Boston’s black community for voters to rally around a single black candidate in the race. (Boston Herald)
The NFL and its Players Association have agreed to temporarily suspend the league’s new national anthem policy requiring players to either stand or stay in the locker room. (ESPN)
New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance has opened its own investigation of the Trump Foundation separate from the ongoing probe by that state’s Attorney General. (Washington Post)
A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds people with disabilities have a higher chance of finding employment in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Former interim Boston school superintendent John McDonough is coming back as a short-term consultant to help new interim superintendent Laura Perille. (Boston Herald)
Business and health industry groups are decrying proposals on Beacon Hill to raise millions of dollars for beleaguered community hospitals through new fees on large hospitals and insurers, saying the move would lead to a spike in premiums and other costs. (Boston Globe)
Braintree’s Board of Health is considering a measure to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco and vapes to stores that only allow customers 21 and over. (Patriot Ledger)
Ed Krapels, a transmission guy, says planning and executing transmission separate from the construction of offshore wind farms is the key to winning the race for offshore wind supremacy. (CommonWealth)
The Trump administration is seeking to revise the Endangered Species Act. (New York Times)
The Marshfield harbormaster said repairs to the jetty protecting the town’s inner bay will do little to keep it from being breached again in a severe storm. (Patriot Ledger)
Gambling commission chairman Steve Crosby said investigators are on track to complete their investigation of Wynn Resorts, which has been rocked by sexual harassment and assault allegations against its former CEO Steve Wynn, by the end of August. (Boston Herald)
A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts cautions states against relying on so-called sin-taxes in the long term for budget stability because of the unpredictability of people’s behaviors. (U.S. News & World Report)
In a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against Boston Police Commissioner William Evans and Suffolk DA Dan Conley, a federal judge said she’s struggling with the issue of whether a law against secretly recording people should apply in the case of recording police officers in the course of their public duties. (Boston Herald)MEDIA
A Berkshire Eagle editorial takes the Cheshire Police Department to task for speculating that Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna may have held off in shooting Emanuel Lopes for fear the media would have blamed him because Lopes was wielding only a rock. Lopes allegedly hurled a large rock at Chesna and, once he was down, took the officer’s gun and shot him multiple times.