Wu names Franklin-Hodge chief of streets
Appointment comes as traffic congestion rising in Boston
BOSTON MAYOR Michelle Wu named Jascha Franklin-Hodge her chief of streets on Tuesday, elevating someone who is already familiar with City Hall and shares many of Wu’s transportation priorities.
Franklin-Hodge said he intends to focus on expanding fare free transit in the city, improving the safety of city streets, and building out a more interconnected bicycling network. Even though Wu in the past has favored charging for residential parking permits, Franklin-Hodge said he was not prepared to make any policy announcements in that area.
“We’re going to look at the way we allocate and price parking in the city,” he said. “Pricing is one tool in the tool box.”
He currently works as the executive director of the Open Mobility Foundation, a nonprofit that develops open source standards for mobility functions so municipalities don’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel. He previously served as Boston’s chief information officer from 2014 to 2018 under former mayor Marty Walsh.
Franklin-Hodge did not come out in support of any specific ways of raising transportation revenues for the city, but he indicated that would be an area of study. “All options are on the table,” he said.
In the past, Franklin-Hodge favored increasing fees on Uber and Lyft rides, particularly in congested areas of the city. He said he also supported legislation backed by the Legislature raising the fees but was vetoed by the governor. “They made a lot of sense and we’d like to see the Legislature reconsider them,” he said.
He also indicated he is likely to be a frequent visitor to MBTA board meetings. He said he wants to see the city partner with the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on a host of matters. “Neither the city nor the T can solve the city’s transportation problems alone,” he said.Wu announced the appointment on the same day INRIX, a transportation analytics company, released its global traffic scorecard for 2021 that indicated Boston is the fourth most congested city in the US and the 18th globally. The report indicated Boston drivers lost 78 hours sitting in traffic in 2021, even though congestion levels were 47 percent below 2019 levels. Trips to downtown Boston were 23 percent below pre-COVID 2019 levels.
Of the five most congested trips in and around Boston, three were on or near I-93 or the Southeast Expressway.