As Boston continues to try to ease traffic congestion on the city’s streets, a new approach will hit the pavement at a busy Fenway intersection on Friday night.
Consider it a modern, tech-centric spin on a cab stand.
Starting at 5 p.m., designated, curbside zones for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to drop off and pick up customers will take hold at the corners of Boylston and Kilmarnock streets.
The trial run is aimed at improving the safety of passengers entering and exiting vehicles while also cutting down on disruptions to traffic flow — double-parked cars, for example — generated by the wave of Uber and Lyft rides that have taken Boston’s streets by storm in recent years.
In 2017 alone, there were approximately 67 rides a minute, with 96,000 daily trips on average. Out of 64.8 million trips across Massachusetts that year, more than half started in Boston.
“Uber and Lyft have changed the way many people travel. They’ve provided convenience,” Mayor Marty Walsh said while announcing the initiative in a speech last week. “But with 35 million trips a year in Boston alone, they’ve also increased congestion and confusion, especially during rush hour. We need to find ways to make rideshares work better.”
Here’s what we know about the new curbside initiative:
How does it work?
The designated zones are set up on Boylston Street, where ride-hailing passengers will find newly installed signs.
Lot’s of excitement today for the new pilot of pick-up/drop-off spots in the #fenway area for @Uber @lyft and other ride sharing. Please note that enforcement starts tomorrow. Read more at https://t.co/0qgTn6VsYj pic.twitter.com/keQ3Hp5ZlT
— BostonTransportation (@BostonBTD) March 15, 2019
The areas covered by the pilot program are only the blocks where the zones are located, officials said in a statement, adding that that includes “the immediate blocks to the west and east of Kilmarnock Street on Boylston Street.”
People seeking to call a Lyft or Uber ride must go to one of the zones in order to meet their driver.
The zones, officials said, will also be available for any driver to use for picking up or dropping off passengers. Street signs at the zone indicate there is a five minute limit for vehicles.
When is it enforced?
The pilot program, starting Friday evening, is slated to run every night beginning at 5 p.m. and ending at 8 a.m. the following morning.
City officials have not said how long they intend to test the model but said that the Boston Transportation Department will ultimately gauge how well it works.
What are Uber and Lyft saying about it?
Both Uber and Lyft say they’re on board with the trial run.
In separate statements, each company highlighted the potential the new approach has for making trips more convenient for riders and drivers.
“We’re thrilled to see the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics explore innovative projects like this one,” Tyler George, the New England general manager for Lyft, said. “These zones will not only make moving around the area more convenient and frictionless, but it can meaningfully reduce congestion and improve the experience for drivers, riders, and the Greater Boston community.”
Koosie Boggs, the head of rides for Uber in New England, said the zones will make trips “seamless for riders.”
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor on our shared goal of reducing congestion,” Boggs said.