New investments in operating budget and capital plan to upgrade transportation infrastructure
Building on his commitment to create a safer, more equitable transportation future for Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a $5 million annual investment included in the City's recommended Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) operating budget and capital plan aimed at upgrading transportation infrastructure to benefit all modes of travel. The investments will contribute to the ongoing implementation of the 58 projects and policies identified in Go Boston 2030, the City of Boston's long term transportation plan unveiled in 2017. These proposed investments complement the transportation investments in the full operating budget and capital plan.
"Getting from point A to point B should be safe, affordable, and reliable -- and this strategy is a bold, progressive way to ensure transportation in Boston is equitable for everyone," said Mayor Walsh. "Last year, we promised to make transportation in Boston better for all with our Go Boston 2030 plan, and these improvements and investments do just that. We're committed to creating a strong transportation network by investing in both short and long-term projects that will create greater transportation access that is reliable and safe for all users of our city's streets."
"To manage our region's growth, to address climate change, and to increase equity, we know we need to transform our transportation system," said Chris Osgood, Boston's Chief of Streets. "Building off the Go Boston 2030 plan, this set of investments is a major step towards that goal. It increases investment in the basics of our streets, such as well-timed traffic signals, smooth roads and good sidewalks, and it builds out a team that can help more people get around our city by bus, bike, car or foot."
"I'm thrilled that this year's budget will include major investments to improve transportation access across the city," said City Councilor Michelle Wu. "The increased funding and staff capacity will support implementation of key improvements within city control -- protected bike lanes, better bus transit, walkable streets, new traffic signal technology and safer intersections. Not only does everyone benefit when we make transportation safer, more affordable and more reliable; the continued growth of our city and the economic mobility of our residents depend on it."
As the funding that the City provides to the State for public transit continues to increase, Boston must utilize its limited revenue streams to support its own new projects and plans. To increase investments in Boston's streets and transportation options, this package of investments is funded through a strategic set of increases to its current parking fine structure, designed to reduce congestion and emissions, increase cleanliness, and improve the parking experience.
Altering the City's current parking fines will encourage better compliance with existing City laws and bring Boston's fines in line with some peer U.S. cities. For example, the fine for double parking in Boston is currently $30 for Zone B and $45 for Zone A and is recommended to be increased to $55 and $75 respectively. However the double parking fine is already significantly higher in San Francisco at $110, New York City at $115, and Chicago at $100. The City of Boston has not raised parking ticket fines in 10 years. The expected new revenue from the modified parking fees will be invested back into city streets.
"Increasing various parking fines that have not been adjusted since 2008 and allocating those funds to improve the City's ability to better manage its transportation services is smart public policy that will lead to more reliable commutes for the City's residents and those who work in Boston," said Sam Tyler, President of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. "In these times, the City must rely more on its own revenue sources for improved services, which is why the transportation fine increases this year make sense."
The estimated increase in revenue through the updated fines will be $5 million, with that new revenue reinvested back into priorities identified by constituents through the the Go Boston 2030 plan. These include:
Strengthening Bus Transit
Through the recommended budget, the City will launch its first "Transit Team." This team will work with the MBTA to improve public transit, with a particular focus on bus service, which services 350,000 trips each day.
Through the Transit Team, the City will work with the MBTA to identify key bus corridors and implement strategies such as transit signal priority and dedicated bus lanes to improve the bus riding experience.
The transit team is expected to include:
- A transit coordinator and an additional staff person to design bus lanes and implement transit signal improvements; and,
- Four operations staff focused on managing dedicated bus lanes in the City of Boston.
Among the strategic bus corridors identified in Go Boston 2030 are Washington Street between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills, Washington Street Silver Line service, and Brighton Avenue, Blue Hill Avenue, and North Washington Street.
State Representative Russell Holmes, who co-chaired the Go Boston 2030 advisory committee, said, "The Mattapan neighborhood realizes heavy bus ridership, but there is no direct public transportation connection between Mattapan and the Longwood Medical Area. Building a direct connection will have dual benefits, providing the community with reliable bus access to area medical institutions, as well as offering Mattapan and Dorchester residents with a quick connection to the many economic opportunities available in the LMA."
Investing in Streets & Signals
A subset of the $5 million investment is focused on improving the basics of the City's 800 miles of streets, 1,600 miles of sidewalks, and over 800 traffic signals. This includes:
- $2 million increase in investment for roadway resurfacing and sidewalk repairs;
- $150,000 for stormwater interventions on our roadways to better manage high precipitation events;
- One new traffic signal engineer to manage and retime traffic signals to increase safety, and reduce traffic congestion and related vehicle emissions;
- Two new traffic signal mechanics to keep signals working as designed.
As part of this investment, the new signal engineer will work to implement the new adaptive signal technology - a new approach to timing traffic lights that the City is exploring in collaboration with MassDOT.
"Travel modes are changing and it is critical that we employ innovations in technology and transportation to ensure that the City of Boston may accommodate current and future demand for people choosing a variety of travel modes," said Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca. "These investments champion Go Boston 2030 and Vision Zero, and give BTD the support needed to meet the City's transportation challenges."
Increasing Safety for Walking & Biking
The top priority in Go Boston 2030 is increasing safety on our streets. As part of this recommended budget, the City proposes a series of investments to accelerate our ability to deliver on that priority, including:
- An additional $750,000 for the Walkable Streets program, nearly doubling the City's investment in building out a better pedestrian network;
- $400,000 for the Green Links program, a new dedicated source of funding for filling missing bike and pedestrian connections to parks and paths, such as three that are currently underway: the Roxbury-Fenway Connector linking the Southwest Corridor and the Emerald Necklace; the Roslindale Gateway path; and a multi-use path connecting Fenway and Yawkey Stations;
- An additional $300,000 for the strategic bike network program, raising the annual investment to $1.2 million for building out high quality bike infrastructure in Boston;
- Two new planners and two new engineers to focus on designing and implementing key Vision Zero programs, such as Neighborhood Slow Streets, and efforts to make quick improvements to some of Boston's most challenging intersections;
- Up to four new maintenance & operations personnel to ensure that infrastructure added to improve street safety, such as pedestrian delineators and flex posts, are kept in a state of good repair.
Through these investments, and the investments the City has already made in its capital budget, it expects, over the next four years, to build 15 Neighborhood Slow Streets areas, complete 15 miles of protected bike lanes, and make improvements to 15 of the most challenging intersections.
Easing Congestion & Parking
Parking Enforcement requests to 311 have increased significantly in the last four years. To reinforce parking enforcement efforts and respond to constituent requests in a timely manner, the City proposes to:
- Update the fines for 11 of the City's 36 parking violations, focusing on those which residents raise most frequently: non-compliance with parking regulations, congestion and cleanliness;
- Add one new Parking Enforcement Senior Supervisor, so that the Parking Enforcement team can respond to constituents 24/7.
The updated parking fine structure is expected to produce positive outcomes by influencing driver behavior and reducing congestion in high traffic areas. Data collected from the City of Boston's recently completed Performance Parking Pilot showed that driver behavior can be changed as a result of adjusting metered parking rates. Both the Back Bay and Seaport neighborhoods, for example, experienced an increase in adherence to Resident Parking Only regulations, with illegal parking in resident spaces decreasing by 12 percent in the Back Bay and 35 percent in the Seaport. In accordance with these results, it is the City's expectation that raising fines will discourage violations and improve compliance.
Coordinating Across Private Stakeholders
Increasingly, the job of providing quality transportation choices and reliable trips through the City requires coordination with outside stakeholders. This recommended budget reflects that by including:
- A new program manager to develop policies and programs focused on Transportation Network Companies, electric vehicles & autonomous vehicles;
- A new transportation planner to work with local transportation associations and developers to manage privately funded street improvements to directly benefit the surrounding neighborhood;
The City's FY19 budget will be formally released on April 11, and residents are encouraged to visit budget.boston.gov to find out more information about investments being made in their community.