Michael Manville, an assistant professor of urban planning at UCLA, says the best way to ease congestion in Boston is to put a price on it.

In a Codcast interview with Josh Fairchild and James Aloisi of TransitMatters, Manville said our roads are clogged because we have too much demand for scarce road space at certain times of the day. We’ve all been there, inching along because everyone is trying to get to work or head home at the same time.

“We have traffic congestion because driving on our roads is underpriced,” Manville said.

The answer is to set the price for driving at high-demand times at whatever level is needed to get some people to shift their behavior so traffic can move along at 55 miles per hour. Gas taxes, carbon taxes, even tolls don’t do that — just congestion pricing, said the UCLA professor.

Manville, who grew up in Reading and attended Holy Cross in Worcester as an undergraduate,  insisted the price doesn’t need to be super high, only high enough to prompt a small number of drivers to drive at a different time or to give up driving all together and shift to carpooling or public transit. A small shift is usually enough to unclog a street or a highway, he said.

It’s true that congestion pricing is regressive and falls harder on the poor, but Manville says the very poorest people don’t drive anyway, and the rest could receive some sort of public aid to offset the financial burden the same way they do if they have difficulty affording food or heating fuel.



The state can’t keep up with the growth in municipal spending on out-of-district education for special ed students, so many communities are facing a funding gap. Andover, for example, is coming up $171,000 short. (Eagle-Tribune)

Three employees of the Department of Children and Families tried to sell the agency auditing software they developed as part of a private company they formed, a potential conflict of interest. (Boston Herald)

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge questions the priorities of the Baker administration for spending more on incentives to lure General Electric to Boston than on upgrades to improve “winter resiliency” on the troubled MBTA. (Boston Globe)

Gun owners are considering a legal challenge to the state’s bump stock ban, arguing that the measure requires them to turn in the devices without receiving any compensation. (Eagle-Tribune) Property is property, says one letter-writer to the Lowell Sun.


Puerto Ricans struggle to rebuild their lives in Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)

Adrian Walker says it’s outrageous that the Walsh administration hasn’t settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of 7-year-old Kyzr Willis, who drowned in July 2016 at a city-run summer camp in South Boston where staff, the suit alleges, failed to follow several state safety laws. (Boston Globe)

Raising the minimum wage to $15 would impact the earnings of a third of workers in Worcester. (Telegram & Gazette)


The federal government shutdown enters its third day as lawmakers fail on Sunday to reach an agreement. (Boston Globe) The author of The Art of the Deal is proving to be a less than artful dealmaker, says Kimberly Atkins. (Boston Herald) What’s at the center of Democrats’ reluctance to forge and agreement? Their deep distrust of the GOP on immigration. (New York Times)

Nestor Ramos says the usually voluble Seth Moulton was hard to catch up with when he wanted to ask the North Shore congressman about his vote to reauthorize the government’s controversial warrantless surveillance program. (Boston Globe)

Sunday’s New York Times has a gripping tale of the toll taken by opioid addiction on one New Hampshire family.

Annabelle Feliz is a Dreamer about to graduate — now what? (CommonWealth)


Hillary Chabot says Gov. Charlie Baker would be well advised to up the visibility of Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito in his reelection campaign. (Boston Herald)

Former governor Bill Weld argues that the so-called millionaires’ tax backers hope to put on the November state ballot — which he calls a graduated income tax with lipstick on it — should be ruled out of order on constitutional grounds. (Boston Herald)

The number of Asian voters is on the rise in Quincy, where Asians comprise 30 percent of the city’s population. (Patriot Ledger)

Could there finally be an issue to discuss in the race to replace US Rep. Niki Tsongas? (Lowell Sun)


George Bachrach says baby boomers need to let go. (CommonWealth)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is set to unveil regulations on short-term rentals such as Airbnb. (Boston Globe) The MASSter List posits Walsh’s hand was forced by a recent CommonWealth story about the uncontrolled growth of commercial hosts for short-term rentals in the city.

It’s not just residential tenants but small commercial operations, too, that are being displaced by development pressures and soaring rents in Boston. (Boston Globe)


Barry Mills, the interim chancellor at UMass Boston, is a self-proclaimed “Dr. Evil.” (CommonWealth)

A former Framingham school bus driver has filed suit against the school district claiming officials retaliated against union reps in response to a costly strike. (MetroWest Daily News)

The state’s school choice program has significant budget impacts for both sending and receiving schools. (GateHouse News Service)


Robert Hale, Jr., the CEO of Quincy-based Granite Telecommunications, and his wife Karen Hale pledge $50 million to both Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (Boston Globe)


Peter O’Connor explores how Boston can help cars, bikers, and pedestrians get along. First priority: those idiotic traffic signals. (CommonWealth)

The MBTA and its bus machinists reach a tentative deal. (CommonWealth)

The MBTA issues a request for proposals seeking a vendor to offer bus service from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. running between Mattapan Square and Revere via downtown. (WGBH)

A Herald editorial takes a dim view of a bill to enact a tax to fund infrastructure based on vehicle miles traveled in addition to the exiting gas tax.

Alice Brown tries to shift the transportation conversation to access. (CommonWealth)

A group of Falmouth residents are gathering data to try to convince transportation and Steamship Authority officials to shift freight traffic to the islands down to New Bedford to ease congestion in Woods Hole. (Cape Cod Times)


The Conservation Law Foundation took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s Boston Globe urging the Baker administration to disqualify an Eversource Energy/Northern Pass proposal from a clean energy procurement because of the project’s “dishonest and disdainful treatment of communities and regulatory agencies in the permitting and bidding process.”

The owners of a planned cutting-edge recycling facility in Rochester slated to serve five towns plus New Bedford have secured the final stages of funding for the project 18 months after declaring bankruptcy. (Standard-Times)

3 replies on “The Codcast: How to ease traffic congestion”

  1. Well, well, well, the special education Circuit Breaker program that the state is not fully funding will cost public school districts across the state hundreds of thousands of dollars…each. At least CommonWealth featured that story in The Daily Download.

  2. So what other programs does the state shortchange public school districts?
    1) The Massachusetts School Building Authority is underfunded leaving at least a couple of dozen public school construction projects to re-apply for funding the next year.
    2) The Foundation Budget…the mechanism distributing state aid to local public schools…is underfunded with reports going back to 2010 confirming that fact.
    3) Charter schools drain funding from public schools exceeding $500 million a year.
    4) The charter school reimbursement formula is broken and underfunded.
    5) 2,440 students from Puerto Rico enrolled in local public schools over the past three and a half months and all Governor Charlie Baker did was to award a grand total of $60,000 to twelve schools districts working out to $8.47 for each of the 590 students enrolled in Springfield and that’s all the Governor plans on giving those school districts this year.
    Add in the special ed Circuit Breaker featured in The Daily Download and that means there are at least SIX programs the state underfunds leaving local public school districts across the state up the creek without a paddle. That makes me wonder, why doesn’t CommonWealth dedicate resources to examine public education funding and publish a series of informing articles on the state’s failure to meet its funding obligations to local public schools? Public school funding deserves at least as much attention as the MBTA.

  3. The Daily Download should highlight the article in The Bay State Banner “As BPS schools brace for cuts, funding system under scrutiny” because of a response to a school committee member’s comment “We still know across our buildings and programs there are haves and have nots on the basics…We’re not all at the same starting point.” Here’s Superintendent Tommy Chang eye opener response: “Is there that basic foundation that all schools need? We have yet to come up with a good way to have that conversation…We will need to figure out how to have this conversation. Does every single school deserve a nurse? Does every single school deserve a principal? Does every single classroom need one teacher?” Yes, that’s a direct quote from Chang at the November 15th school committee meeting. Chang heads a school district where almost 60% of its public schools do not have a working library. Why can’t CommonWealth dive deep into what’s going on with funding at the Boston public schools?

Comments are closed.