Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More MBTA/MBCR Commuters, Fewer On the Pike

In today's MetroWest Daily News there was an article about how rising costs may be causing commuters to change their commuting habits.

From January 2008 to April 2008, the Mass Pike saw a .86% drop in the number of transactions east of the Weston tolls. So that is essentially the Brighton/Cambridge (or Allston/Brighton if you are traveling westbound) and the airport tunnels. Which is interesting that the drop was only measured for this portion of the Pike, since many of the on/off-ramps no longer require tolls.

The MBTA saw a 6.2% increase in riders from January 2008 to March 2008 compared to the same period last year.

To off-set the toll increase, the Pike factored in a temporary 3% decrease in traffic this year. Whenever there is a toll increase, drivers move to non-toll roads, such as Rt. 9 or 495.

As of April, the Pike's traffic grew .42% on the western portion and did not decrease as much as expected on the eastern portion.

From the article:
"If the population is stagnant then someone is switching and, if they're switching, how many are switching from our road system?" Turnpike Authority Executive Director Alan LeBovidge said during a Monday morning board meeting. "We're dependent on volume. If the volume goes down then something has to change - it might be our budget."

The authority raised tolls 25 cents at the Weston barrier and Allston tolls and 50 cents at the one-way Boston tunnel tolls in January to pay for a scheduled increase in Big Dig debt.

Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen, who is also the authority board chairman, said the spike in MBTA riders is a good thing, but that it is something to keep an eye on when estimating future toll revenue.

By the way, the toll information on the Mass Pike's website is somewhat confusing (unless you actually are a frequent Pike traveler). I feel bad for out-of-state visitors or people in the area who go to the site to figure out how much their trip will cost, but it is a little difficult to understand. It would be great if they had a map of the Pike that let you click on each exit to figure out your start/end points. Then again, maybe more of us just have the Fast Lane or EZ Pass systems and the actual cost doesn't really matter any more?

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