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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City Living on a Budget

As urban centers continue to see rents skyrocket, it is important for many to learn how to live in a city on a budget. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Build a real budget and stick to it.

Learvest is a financial planning tool created by a Harvard Business alum. Their team recommends at 50/20/30 rule.

50% of income should go towards fixed costs (this will largely include rent)

20% should go towards paying off debt or be put into savings

30% should be used for flexible costs (entertainment, eating out, etc)

2. Think about what your rent includes and take advantage of these offerings.

Think about what rent includes. Are utilities included? Do you have a gym? Is parking included? Is public transportation readily accessible nearby? Do you have access to free laundry?

These are all money savers that can lower your effective rent.

3. Reduce transportation costs

A car can easily zap your budget. Financing/leasing costs, gasoline costs, maintenance, and insurance add up very quickly. Instead, opt for public transportation and perhaps look into a bus pass. A bicycle can pay itself off in no time and prove to be a worthwhile investment.

4. Eat-in more frequently.

While it can be tempting to try the array of restaurants that come with living in a larger city, make a concerted effort to cook your own food. This can save hundreds of dollars per month. Try to make cooking a fun event and include friends when possible. Likewise, packing a lunch during the day can also have the potential to save hundreds of dollars per month.