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According to Curbed Boston, the notoriously bad traffic around Boston is being made worse by rising home prices and soaring rents. The mobility firm INRIX recently released a traffic congestion ranking of U.S. cities that pegged Boston as the ninth worst. The study indicates that Boston drivers lost an average of 149 hours stuck in traffic in 2019 which is 15 hours better than in 2018. INRIX computes the lost time into a monetary hit of $2,205 in lost productivity. The city's housing shortage is getting the blame.

But one reason sometimes gets overlooked. That’s that the Boston region’s housing prices and rents are some of the highest in the nation. And that pushes more residents farther out in search of decent digs that they can afford. That then translates into longer commutes by car, especially from places that the T and commuter rail don’t really service, like much of the North Shore and the far western and southwestern suburbs.

Not every city or town near Boston is like Cambridge or Quincy, in other words, each of which has several Red Line stops. Heck, some neighborhoods within Boston proper are not so readily served by mass transit—think Hyde Park or West Roxbury.

There is an ongoing debate over how to remedy the situation, but it’s a heavy lift. The solution hinges on developing more housing—and densely built housing, at that, such as apartment and condo complexes—near transit stops. The thinking goes that this would get more people on to trains and buses, and off the roadways, at least during peak hours.

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