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Pitts Stop: Could Smarter Tolling Reduce Traffic Congestion In Boston?

BOSTON (CBS) – As Boston continues to grow, so does rush hour traffic.

"Twenty years ago it wasn't like this. You could get back home in a reasonable amount of time," says Bill Petti, a commuter from Plymouth.

"It's getting worse Boston, Route 1, 93 especially during rush hour time," Salah Habib, an Uber Driver told WBZ-TV.

Traffic seems so bad in fact, that four new billboards along Route 1 are poking fun at drivers' long commutes. They range from witty, to informational and even point out the quality time you may be missing with your family while sitting in traffic.

"I think we are at a critical point. Traffic is holding back our economy and quality of life," says Chris Dempsey, director of Transportation 4 Massachusetts, the group behind the billboards.

Billboards by a group aiming to reduce traffic in the Boston area. (WBZ-TV)

"So right now in Massachusetts we toll in a really dumb way. We don't give drivers an incentive to get off the road at rush hour-which other states and regions around the country are doing," says Dempsey.

Dempsey is referring to a concept known as "Smarter Tolling" where toll prices are lowered during off peak times and raised during rush hour.

"Think of it like an early bird special at a diner or matinee pricing at the movies. You get a discount for going at a certain time."

T4MA thinks there's a perfect place to test it out.

"We think the Tobin Bridge is a really good place to start. It's very clear where you pay your toll and it has some of the worst congestion in the entire region."

And while the drivers WBZ spoke with were skeptical to downright against the proposal, Dempsey says we have to try something.

"It's totally reasonable for people to be opposed to tolls because for years now we've asked people to pay a toll and we haven't given them a better service for it," Dempsey said. "We just think Mass DOT should try it out, not commit to any policy change here but see if these types of tools that have worked in other parts of the country can also work here."

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