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Congestion Pricing Opponents Brace Themselves for a Repeat

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Opponents of congestion pricing are worried it's about to stage a comeback. Although confident that it would be dead on arrival in Albany, Queens Assemblyman David Weprin voiced concern about a possible resurrection.

"It's resurfaced over the last couple of weeks, in the media," said Weprin, standing with other opponents outside City Hall. "We understand that there is a coalition of groups that's forming a proposal. We'd like to prevent that proposal from seeing the day of light."

Congestion pricing was heavily promoted by Mayor Bloomberg beginning in 2007. The mayor argued that charging drivers to enter the central business district in Manhattan would achieve multiple goals, including raising money for mass transit and reducing traffic and pollution. But opponents attacked the plan as a "tax" that would hurt small businesses and outer borough commuters, especially those who don't have easy access to subways. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver refused to bring the legislation to a vote in 2008, dooming the initiative.

Queens Assemblyman Michael DenDekker warned lawmakers not to revisit the proposal.

"And if they do, in these economic times, I feel that although the city may reap a small quick benefit, from the tax that they'll put on these cars, they'll lose a much larger benefit, on the amount of money we make off tourism," said DenDekker.

There is no new congestion pricing legislation yet, but environmentalists have been studying ways to create a steady stream of revenue for mass transit. The Working Families Party has also been mulling a similar measure, and Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie (a Working Families Party candidate) argues that earlier problems with congestion pricing could be sorted out.

Heastie said it's too early to tell whether the legislature would back a proposal.

"You probably have to poll individual members," he said, "but I think when you're in desperate fiscal times like this I think every option should be on the table."

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Comments [9]

zz from Queens

Why should NYC taxpayers subsidize the cost (in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars) of maintaining the free bridges into Manhattan? I say give the bridges to the MTA, let them charge tolls, so drivers bear the cost of maintaining those bridges. And use any surplus for transit, which benefits drivers and transit users alike.

Feb. 07 2011 03:13 PM
Sara from Brooklyn

In theory, it seems like a good idea -- but seeing how badly the MTA bungles their budgets and personnel issues, do we really want to give them more $? Also, as an outer borough resident, I don't see the plan linked to any outer borough improvements in mass transit. Is this just going to pay for the 2nd Avenue subway?!

Feb. 07 2011 02:40 PM
paul from manhattan

As usual, people seem to view this proposal in light of how it will affect them personally instead of in light of the Big Picture. Any proposal is going to inconvenience some people, but that's no reason to take it out consideration. The big picture includes the added revenue, sure, but also less pollution -- a factor those outside of Manhattan have little patience for (they don't live in Manhattan) -- but also justification for new, small-capital enterprises that would spring up to support this new order -- such as additional parking in areas peripheral to Manhattan, increased leisure areas in Manhattan and those aformentioned peripheries, enhanced mass-transit solutions afforded by increased revenue, and more efficient mass-transit due to greater use, more funding, and less impeding congestion.

Feb. 07 2011 12:23 PM

100% against this. Naturally it "works" because people won't want to spend the extra money unless they either have a lot of money or have no choice. It doesn't work in that it hurts a lot of people who have no choice but to drive in the city, and it also hurts businesses who rely on people coming into the city.

Feb. 07 2011 11:52 AM
Capper from nyc

Totally support congestion pricing! Those who don't support are thinking only of themselves and not the many many people who live in New York. Nor are they thinking for the success of the City.

USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!!

Feb. 07 2011 10:42 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

I know hardly anyone who drives into Manhattan during business hours. But for those who do, if they're too "working class" to afford the congestion fee, they can always take the subway or express buses with the rest of us.

Feb. 07 2011 10:19 AM
J from Brooklyn

This has never been about congestion or conservation or air pollution or enhancing the environment. It's about putting tolls on the East River bridges to raise more money without calling it a tax. Tolls on the bridges will be proposed as a "compromise" although this has always been the ultimate goal. This toll idea goes back at least to the Koch administration, if not back to the 19th century.

Feb. 07 2011 10:06 AM
rich from brooklyn

Congestion pricing is a perfect example of an unimaginative overreaching government ready to throw out people's most basic right; the freedom movement.
To think that the working people of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens have to pay to enter into Manhattan is the height of elitist remedial solutions (I love the idea that Mr. Bloomberg says he uses the subway, sure he has Choice! We want Choice too!).
The greatest luxury, accessible luxury, for working class people, meaning most of us, is the automobile. Everywhere in the world, every culture, when people can afford a car they get one and they use it, traffic or no.
We should celebrate this historic freedom, embrace it, facilitate it, instead of this idea of punishing people for exercising this basic right of the freedom to travel.
People who own and use their car in this city pay more, much more than their fare share not only to maintain roads, bridges and tunnels, but as everyone knows supports and subsidizes public transportation and the running of a bloated abusive city government.
Stop punishing the middle class and start righting sizing government.

Feb. 07 2011 08:30 AM
Steve from Brooklyn

"And if they do, in these economic times, I feel that although the city may reap a small quick benefit, from the tax that they'll put on these cars, they'll lose a much larger benefit, on the amount of money we make off tourism," said DenDekker.

Hogwash.

What tourist to New York rents a car to drive around? They mostly stay in Manhattan hotels, and then clustered around midtown, and walk or take subways. They walk across the Brooklyn bridge.

Congestion pricing will make tourism better. The streets will be clearer and easier to get around. Look at what's happened in Times Square. Fewer cars has made it a hit with tourists and caused area business revenue and rents to soar.

Dekker is representing car-centric constituents. Fine. But he's wrong about tourism.

Feb. 06 2011 07:51 PM

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