Is Congestion Pricing coming to Boston?

After seeing success in the city of Stockholm where they saw a 22 percent reduction in traffic, New York could become the first city in the United States to implement congestion pricing.

If it goes through, motorists driving in and out of the main commercial districts of Manhattan would be charged a fee to do so. The main reason to start a program like this is to ease traffic in the city’s most congested areas by forcing people who want to access those areas to make a decision—pay to drive through those areas or save money by walking, cycling, or taking public transport. The proposal has the backing of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a number of business groups as well as ride-hailing apps such Uber. If New York approves this plan, will Boston follow suit?

Perhaps the strongest argument in support of this plan making its way to Boston is that the revenue from congestion pricing in New York would be allocated for repairs to the region’s public transit system.

Besides having some of the world’s worst traffic (Boston ranks 14th among the world’s most congest cities), the T and commuter rail are constantly in need of monetary help to improve infrastructure and service.

However, opponents against the plan are worried that congestion pricing would send property values and prices even higher than they already are and make it harder for people to be able to afford to live within the congestion pricing zone.

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Suburban Rent Prices on the Rise

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 2.18.55 PMWhen you think of more affordable housing, you think of the suburbs; more space, more land, better prices from homes to rentals.  However, as millennials begin to wiggle their way into the real estate market, pricing in the suburbs seems to be suffering.  

In the last year the cost of renting a home in the suburbs has risen higher than the cost of renting in the city.  In a new release by Zillow, median monthly cost of suburban rents rose by 2.5% while urban rents only rose by 2.3%.  

This is a stark difference from last year where urban rental prices were up 5% while suburban rental prices were closer to 3%.  The cities that are experiencing the fastest increases are Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco.  San Francisco experienced an urban rental price drop of 0.4% and a 2.6% increase in suburban rental price.      

The more prominent examples of this trend reside in cities where rent affordability is a main issue.  Renters who are paying more than 44% of their income in rent, like San Francisco, are the driving force here.  

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 2.18.55 PMAs rent continues to rise in cities, renters will either have to make due or forfeit their apartments for cheaper options elsewhere.  Choosing a longer commute for a drop in rent prices seems to be the main solution.  

While these statistics only define renting, home ownership plays a huge part in it.  Most millennials would like to buy a home but lack the assets, especially the down payment, to realistically make the jump.  With rent prices on the rise, and the inability to buy homes, there is no reason to not expect this trend to continue into 2018.     

Will we see a mass exodus of city renters transitioning to suburbs?  What effect will this have on the pricing of rentals and homes?  Only time will tell.