Road to Nowhere

1195489727We have a love-hate relationship with cabs. After a night of drinking, they’re the easiest way home to the sweet sanctuary of our beds. When we’re driving around, we warily watch as they disobey the laws of physics, and the road, to get to their destination. As cabbies fight for their rights, we’ve got an idea on how they can make some extra money.

They should be urban planning consultants.

The highly-anticipated Massachusetts Turnpike U-turn ramp has barely been used since it opened last month. The ramp is designed to accommodate two-axle commercial vehicles, like cabs and small buses. But a trucker has already crashed into the guardrail, and one-third of those who use it are non-commercial drivers.

So why aren’t more cabs using the ramp that was designed for them?

. . . [M]any Boston taxi drivers have been reluctant to take out-of-towners on the ramp, because they fear the passengers will not understand why they are going west then east as the meter ticks, and will think they are being overcharged.

“He passes the Copley Square area he’s going to say: ‘What’s going on here?’ ” said John Ford, owner of City Cab and Top Cab. “Even though, technically, it may be a faster ride, people generally like the shortest point between two points when you’re in a cab.”

By God, he’s right. We’d be mad if a cabbie took us this way—a trip from Logan to the Pru can cost $12 more when using the U-turn instead of city streets.

Maybe we should ask cabbies for their feedback on all major roadway projects from now on. They use the roads more than most anybody else, so they must have insight into the quirks of Boston driving. Pay them a fee, put them in a simulator, and listen to their feedback. Perhaps it will save you the trouble of building a $1.6 million ramp none of them want to use.