I’ve never been a fan of visiting Boston.

Yes, there are great sights, great museums and great cultural offerings, but …

You have to drive there and you have to drive in Boston, and that’s the deal breaker for me.
When I say I have to go to “the city” I mean New York City, which by comparison is a painless effort to reach thanks to Amtrak and other rail options.

Reaching Boston is far from painless. Yes, there is bus service and a daily Amtrak ride in and out of the city, but that’s not enough. And no, this is not a column about the need for high-speed rail (although we do need it).

No, I’m reacting to a proposal being floated about creating a fee for those drivers using Boston roadways during certain hours of the day in an attempt to reduce congestion and emissions.

According to a story by Ross Cristaniello on Boston.com, this approach has been used elsewhere. “In December, the board of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted in favor of recommendations that a $15 fee be imposed on cars entering Manhattan below 60th Street once per day. The recommendations called for commercial trucks to pay up to $36, and for extra fares on taxis, Uber, and Lyft rides.

“In New York, drivers who make less than $50,000 a year would not have to pay the fees for their first 10 trips into the designated congestion zone each month. Emergency vehicles would be exempt, as would vehicles transporting people with disabilities and drivers who live in the congestion zone and make $60,000 or less per year,” he wrote.

The governor of New York has approved the measure, saying it will raise millions of dollars to repair infrastructure, and the same logic is being used in Boston. “A set fee placed on drivers of various vehicles could bring money and resources toward other elements of the community, reduce traffic, increase transit use and improve air quality, creating environmentally and eco-friendly solutions, as well as functioning as a tangible solution for those feeling preyed upon and thinking that the city is not hearing their feedback,” Boston Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson said.

OK, but won’t consumers wind up paying for the fees in increased costs for goods and services? Wouldn’t that make Boston an even more expensive place to live and visit? Does Boston need to be more expensive? And how would the fees be determined and paid? What kind of bureaucratic structure would have to be assembled to administer all the program?

Will they be putting up roadblocks? Toll lanes? Or will everyone have to get a transponder to monitor where they drive?

It’s an amazingly bad idea that will stifle economic development.

I’m all for decreasing road congestion and pollution, but I don’t think setting up a driving tax of this nature is the way to do it. Could you imagine if Springfield, Westfield, Holyoke, Chicopee and Northampton set something up like this? What a nightmare.

This is not going to accomplish anything but create whole bunch more municipal jobs for the people who would have to make this plan function.

What the hell, Southwick?

The reports about the racist behavior of some students in the Southwick school district is distressing, to say the least. The way that students allegedly conducted a “slave auction” online involving students “bidding” on their Black classmates underscores the inherent racism that exists everywhere.

Don’t make any mistake that racism isn’t here in Massachusetts, our supposedly “liberal” state, and this incident illustrates that we have a long way yet to go in making our state one in which people of all races, religious groups and backgrounds can feel secure.

Bishop Talbert W. Swan II, president, Greater Springfield NAACP, has called for a thorough investigation in a letter to Southwick school officials. I hope one is quickly forthcoming.

G. Michael Dobbs has worked for Reminder Publishing for 23 years of his nearly 50-year-career in the Western Mass. media scene, and previously served as the executive editor. He has spent his time with the publisher covering local politics, interesting people and events. The opinions expressed within the article are that of the author’s and do not represent the opinions and beliefs of the paper.

+ posts