Seattle Mayor Wants to Add Tolls to Congested City Streets
By the end of her first term in office, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan wants to implement some sort of congestion-pricing plan for motorists heading into or through her city’s congested downtown area. Durkan made the announcement on Wednesday where she detailed her administration’s climate action plan and reaffirmed the city’s commitment to the meeting emissions-reduction goals under Paris Agreement, despite President Trump’s decision to have the U.S. exit the international climate accord. Durkan said that the city will only move forward on such a tolling plan with public support. "We have to make sure that it is paired up with meaningful transit because we can't ask people to get out of their single-occupancy vehicles unless there are meaningful options that they have, whether that is buses, walking, bikes, or other public transit," Durkan said at a press conference. If Seattle successfully introduces a tolling plan for city streets, it’d be the first U.S. city to do so—transportation officials in New York City have studied congestion pricing for vehicles entering parts of Manhattan. Looking at Seattle’s emissions breakdown by sector, passenger vehicle trips make up a large percentage. And while other cities drool over Seattle’s impressive public transit ridership numbers and have looked to emulate local practices that have boosted bus and light-rail ridership, the Emerald City still has a lot a lot of work to do to reduce driving levels.
Last week, Durkan halted work on a proposed downtown streetcar project so it can undergo an independent review of its costs, sparking fears among transit advocates that the city may kill the project.
State and local transportation officials in Hawaii face $15 billion in long-term infrastructure costs to rebuild and protect low-lying coastal roads that are threatened by rising sea levels. On Oahu, two chunks of the Kamehameha Highway were eaten away by heavy surf in 2016. A “baseline estimate” from the Hawaii Department of Transportation indicates the agency “will need $7.5 million for every mile of highway road that must either be raised, pushed back or relocated entirely to escape erosion and flooding in the next 50 to 100 years—and $40 million for every mile of bridge.”
Local leaders in Worcester, Massachusetts have some very difficult decisions to make regarding the future of Worcester Regional Transit Authority bus service. The transit agency “faces a $900,000 shortfall for the next year and has proposed service cuts ranging from reducing service on certain lines by half to eliminating weekend service.” And that could send ridership plummeting.
This article originally ran on routefifty.com.