Keller @ Large: Boston Traffic Is Getting Worse

BOSTON (CBS) – As you sit and fume in what I’m sure will be yet another horrendous day of traffic jams around our little Garden of Eden, think back with me to the good old days of the mid-1990s, when the powers that be assured us that in the future we wouldn’t need to worry because the Big Dig will have wiped out chronic congestion.


The nifty radio ads with the traffic reporter cutting his report short because there was no traffic to report on?

The Big Dig construction site May 6, 2000 in Boston. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

The Big Dig construction site May 6, 2000 in Boston. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

I’d laugh, if it were funny. But the nightmare of trying to get around greater Boston is no laughing matter.

And now fresh statistics from the Census Bureau show just how bad things have gotten.

According to a Boston Globe analysis, the average commute for Bostonians is about 31 minutes, seventh-worst in the nation. That’s nearly ten percent longer than five years ago.

We have a longer commute than Miami, Washington, and Los Angeles. Yes, you heard that right – worse than LA.

I guess the Big Dig didn’t solve everything after all.

But let’s look to the future for solutions.

We could dramatically expand our road infrastructure, like that second flyover they’re talking about at the Sagamore Bridge. All we have to do is win a really big Powerball jackpot to pay for it.

We could pour billions into the T to finally make it a really attractive option for commuters.

Again, Powerball.

Or we could get tough on single commuters, taxing them into carpools, or start severely curbing the number of vehicles we allow on the road.

Gee. All of a sudden, LA doesn’t sound too bad.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

More from Jon Keller

One Comment

  1. bwcarey says:

    L.A, flat, think of what you can do sitting in your car!

  2. Bengals2 says:

    I wonder what traffic would be like today if they had run I-95 through the city and had the I-595 loop. Would we also still have the elevated Orange Line on the southern part? Would the neighborhoods have been divided?

  3. The Owl says:

    As we go to and from Boston up route three, I does strike me as how wasteful it is with only one person in a vehicle traveling into town

    . First, just think of all the fuel that is wasted…even at $2 per gallon, that is a lot of money, and much of that just gets converted. Into pollutants that everyone ends up having to breath. Then there is the wear-an-tear on the expensive asset…vehicle don’t last the way they used to.

    Next, there are all the parking spaces needed to house these perambulating livingrooms so that the lucky driver can pretend that he is working a full day for his “iiving wage” that fails to even come close to the value added that that should come for the money changing hands.

    Finally, there is the extraordinary wealth transfer that occurs when the trusty steed is put into his daytime stable, there to while away the hours in useless splendor while waiting for Lord and Master is in need of his transportation back to hearth and home in his hour+ travel in the company of hundreds of thousands of like-minded “captains of industry and mayhem”.

    But Jon, what do YOU think the solution might be? I am most interested in reading about your solutions that a) would not require the winning of a number of lotteries, b) be successful, and c) actually get more than one person in a car.

    Come now, sir…I know you want to get home on time and hate having to sit in traffic. But what is going to get YOU out of your single-occupancy vehicle and contribute to the solution.

    Are you part of the solution? Or, are you just one of the problems?

  4. Employers must change their thinking and consider staggered work hours. Rush hour highway tolls need to be higher. Limit auto access to core downtown areas. In conjunction with this, build more parking facilities ( underground ) on the city perimeter, with easy public transportation access. Plan a comprehensive bike trail network, that’s not on city streets. Better use of ferries, both in the harbor and on the Charles.

    1. The Owl says:

      …And just how are you going to move all those people from one nexus to another?

      Boston’s MTA was a difficult, albeit reasonably efficient, system back when Charley first got on his train,

      Sadily, it has not kept pace with the growing requirements of an inner-city subway system, let alone the expansion requirements adequately to serve the suburbs.

      How you gonna solve that problem Mr. Collins?

      And are you going to pay for it with a couple of wins of the lottery?

      BTW…one solution might be tolls on all of the expressway exits inside Route 128 and peak pricing for traveling during peak traffic hours.

      The establishment of permanent HOV lanes in both directions on the SE Expressway, and the introduction of them on I-93 and I-95 might just help, especially if the HOV lanes did NOT carry the tolls applied on the other road.

      The idea is to encourage more doubling up of people in cars. If it were only 20% effective, it would be far less inconvenient and cost effective than adding lanes to the exiting expressway nightmares.

  5. David Heimann says:

    How about having a time penalty of 30-60 minutes for drivers using the roads during peak periods? You don’t think the public would stand for the government forcing that down our throats? Actually, nature is carrying out that solution on us already!

  6. Yvonne says:

    Look at that picture of the big dig. The city has grown in size. Suburbs are out, cities are in.

    We need to grow our public transportation system to keep up with the city. Our current system reflects the city and greater Boston area as it was many years ago.

  7. It's not rocket science... says:

    Boston traffic is a nightmare because of the never-ending construction boom in that city.

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