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New ride-hail pick-up, drop-off zones to be added to Seaport District

The new zones further the City of Boston's Go Boston 2030 mobility and safety goals.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the recent installation of three ride-hail pick-up and drop-off zones in the South Boston Seaport. This builds on the results of the ride-hail pick-up and drop-off pilot program implemented on Boylston Street in Fenway last year. Boston's pick-up and drop-off zones are aimed at reducing traffic congestion linked to double parking by ride-hail drivers, and improving the safety of ride-hail  passengers and other users of Boston's local streets. The Boston Transportation Department is partnering with the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Boston Department of Innovation and Technology, with the project furthering the goals of Go Boston 2030, the City's transportation plan.

"A world-class city needs world-class transportation, and we're working to find creative solutions to congestion, making transportation better for all," said Mayor Walsh. "Transportation is crucial to ensuring our residents can get to their homes, their jobs and their schools, and my Administration will continue its mission to create the best transportation options for residents in Boston."

"Picking up and dropping off passengers in a travel lane is an unsafe practice," said Acting Boston Transportation Department Commissioner Gregory Rooney. "People stepping into traffic to enter or exit a vehicle are at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle or bicycle. This practice presents a safety hazard for all people sharing the road. Passengers and ride-hail drivers are urged to use the designated curbside zones to make our roads safer for all users."

"How people and goods are moving around cities is changing rapidly and along with that is how cities measure and manage our curbspace," said Kris Carter, Co-Chair of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics. "We are using a variety of new tools to gain insight into the activity on our street, test out new approaches, and scale the interventions that make our streets safer and our transportation system more reliable for all users."

An initial assessment of the Fenway neighborhood pick-up and drop-off pilot program is positive, indicating more productive use of curb space, an increase in safe behaviors and reduced travel delays. There was a decrease in pick-up/drop-off activity in the travel lane, as well as a 350 percent increase in the utilization of the curb, as measured by vehicles per hour. The pilot also concluded an eight percent decrease in parking tickets issued that may signify fewer vehicles left in the travel lanes. The two zones installed as part of the Fenway neighborhood pilot program are located on Boylston Street inbound, just east and west of Kilmarnock Street. The zones are operational from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., seven days a week.

Information gathered as part of the Fenway neighborhood Pick-Up/Drop-Off Pilot/Initial Assessment and Early Findings was taken into consideration when designing the South Boston Seaport zones, and is being used to formulate plans to expand the program to additional locations.

The three new pick-up and drop-off zones are located at 50 Northern Avenue, 100 Northern Avenue and 56 Seaport Boulevard in South Boston. The two zones installed as part of the Fenway neighborhood pilot program are located on Boylston Street inbound, just east and west of Kilmarnock Street. In addition to ride-hail vehicles, all private passenger vehicles can  use these five zones for pick-up and drop-off purposes. Vehicles are subject to a five minute limit at these locations and drivers are required to stay with their vehicle. The South Boston Seaport zones are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

"We are grateful for Mayor Walsh's leadership in implementing these modern mobility improvements in the Seaport," said Yanni Tsipis, Senior Vice President of WS Development in the Seaport. "The new TNC zones not only directly benefit neighborhood residents, cyclists, and our many local small businesses, but also have a regional benefit by reducing roadway congestion for MBTA bus service, freight carrier service to the Conley Terminal and the Ray Flynn Marine Industrial Park, and all motorists throughout the Seaport neighborhood."

As part of the planning process for the South Boston Seaport zones, the City of Boston partnered with Shared Streets which offers access to aggregated data from Uber and Lyft. A review of the data assisted with confirming the best locations for the zones. As a result of the aggregated data, 56 Seaport Boulevard will also have a geofence. The geofence will reduce double parking and obstruction of the bike lane and bus stop. Geofencing is also in place at both Fenway zones. With this technology, the user of a ride-hail service requests an Uber or Lyft ride within the geofenced area, they are directed to the designated pick-up / drop-off zone.

This program builds on Mayor Walsh's commitment to ensuring transportation is safe, equitable and reliable for all. In his State of the City speech this week, Mayor Walsh announced new efforts to reduce congestion and improve in Boston, including launching a Transportation Action Committee in East Boston to address the unique circumstances in the neighborhood. The committee will include local residents, advocates and stakeholders.

Since launching Boston's safety plan, Vision Zero, the City has cut fatalities on Boston roads by half. Mayor Walsh has again called for Boston to have a seat on the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board, noting Boston is the largest payer into the MBTA--but doesn't have a voice at the table. In addition to this advocacy, Mayor Walsh urged Boston's partners at the Massachusetts Legislature to take up transportation financing, and enable Boston to use Regional Ballot Initiatives (RBI) to fund its transportation initiatives. 

Last year, the Boston Transportation Department resurfaced over 30 miles of roads, repainted over 1,000 crosswalks, rebuilt sidewalks, installed safety signage all throughout Boston, cut the ribbon on North Square in the North End, and broke ground on new streets and sidewalks in Roxbury. The Boston Transportation Department has also worked to improve active transportation options, improving bike connections from Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, and the South End to downtown. Additional work includes rethinking how our connections operate, designing bridges in Charlestown, South Boston, Hyde Park and Long Island that work for everyone. 

In November, Mayor Walsh announced a significant milestone reached on the implementation of the City's Go Boston 2030 transportation plan, with more than half of the 58 projects and policies identified in the plan currently underway. The comprehensive plan was unveiled in 2017 and is designed to provide, by the year 2030, a safe, reliable and equitable transportation system that also supports Boston's climate goals. In just two years, the Boston Transportation Department and its partners have made significant progress on their planning goals, designed to increase safety, accessibility, equity and affordability in transportation for all residents. Twenty-one projects are already in implementation and another 17 are in design.

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