What is congestion pricing?

BOSTON (WWLP) – Traffic affects many of us on our daily commutes, and the state is looking to try and fix congestion across the state.

Could changing the price paid at tolls during peak hours help alleviate traffic on Massachusetts roadways? A Senate budget amendment wants to find out.

A recently passed Senate Budget Amendment is looking to study congestion on the road, for the third time. Senator Brendan Crighton’s amendment would create a commission that would study the “financial, travel, and environmental impacts” of congestion pricing.

What is congestion pricing? It’s when tolls would increase or decrease based on the amount of traffic in the hopes drivers will be deterred from commuting at peak times.

Senator John Velis supports the study but says any implementation has to be fair to western Massachusetts, “There needs to be regional equity, right? It can’t be something that’s thrown on the back of western Mass., and quite frankly, other parts of the state, right? Other parts of the state that don’t have that traffic. If we’re going to do something, in the form of tolls to disincentivize people from getting on the roads at certain times, the people paying for it needs to be the folks that live in those areas where traffic is the main issue driving this in the first place. It has to be equitable.”

Now lawmakers have approved the creation of a committee to study tiered pricing in the past, but it has never become law. In fact, Governor Baker vetoed the measure after the term ended last summer stating that, among other things, it would “disproportionately affect low-income commuters.”

Now, the House did not include the creation of this commission in their budget, so it will be up to conference committee negotiators if it will survive.

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