Mayor Walsh today announced a set of initiatives to make Boston roads safer and less clogged that include lowering the default citywide speed limit from 25 to 20 m.p.h., dedicated bus lanes on Brighton Avenue in Allston and North Washington Street along the North End, special pickup/drop-off lanes for Uber and Lyft cars - but also rush-hour surcharges for riding in them - and free T passes for all students in grades 7 through 12, regardless of whether they're BPS students.
Boston reduced its speed limit from 30 to 25 m.p.h. in January, 2017, after the governor signed legislation allowing such citywide reductions. Walsh says going down to 20 would make Boston roads even safer - but as before, the proposal, first made by city councilors, would require action by the state legislature and the governor.
Walsh said he hopes to build on the success of a morning dedicated bus/bike lane along Washington Street in Roslindale with a similar one for Brighton Avenue in Allston. He also wants to see a 24/7 dedicated bus lane on North Washington Street between Haymarket and the bridge to Charlestown.
He added he wants to work with residents to improve bus service along Blue Hill Avenue.
The mayor continued that the city this month will block off a section of the curb at Boylston and Kilmarnock streets in the Fenway as a designated pick-up/drop=off zone for Uber and Lyft cars - between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.
The goal of this pilot is to ease congestion caused by cars double-parking and to increase safety for passengers entering and exiting the vehicles. The City is currently working with ride-sharing companies, and both Uber and Lyft have agreed to support the City's pilot.
The mayor did not say whether Uber and Lyft have agreed to his other proposal for them - to require them to collect a surcharge from riders during rush hours. This measure would require approval of the state legislature and the governor.
This fee would be invested in local roads and transit, including improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. It would also reduce charges for pooled rides and the use of electric vehicles.
Walsh added the city will begin doling out free T passes to all students in grades 7 through 12, regardless of whether they are enrolled in BPS schools. The city currently buys T passes for roughly 20,000 BPS students a year; Walsh's measure would add another 10,000 middle- and high-school students.