Streams

Whither Congestion Pricing?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The deadline for federal funding for congestion pricing is today, and Mayor Bloomberg's plan seems to have stalled in Albany. But Governor Spitzer's office has a tentative proposal that could possibly be approved. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) and New York 1 political director Bob Hardt discuss the latest proposal.

Guests:

Richard Brodsky and Bob Hardt

Comments [28]

JT from Long Island

I agree with Be that we are essentially paying twice since we already pay taxes. However, I don't see how this is different than paying at a meter if you park your car. Meters are there to make sure cars move on and let other people park their cars. I see congestion parking as providing a similar service.

I would like to see a survey of the cars that actually drive into Manhattan on a daily basis. We'd need to know where they're driving in from, where they live, their income level, their reason for driving in, and the reason they didn't take mass transit. Otherwise all we'll ever have are assumptions about who will be affected and we'll never make a decision.

Jul. 17 2007 06:20 PM
Be from Manhattan

JT wrote:

"People with no kids pay taxes that go to fund schools. People that don't use mass transit pay taxes that pay for it. You pay taxes that maintain streets in the city that you will probably never visit. You pay the same subway fare whether you go one stop or spend the entire day transferring between lines. These systems can't be 100% fair, but overall it balances out and we all benefit."

You are write that we pay taxes for things we never use, and those taxes create public goods. The point you are overlooking is that because we pay taxes, it would be wrong to charge usto use something we have alredy payed for. Non one should be excluded from the use of a public good. It doesn't matter that it costs $100 to play tennis at a public court. That existence of that fee, does not justify itself. It should not cost anything to play at a public court. Some people will not be able to play when they want to either way, but at least they are not being charged to use something they've already paid for.

Jul. 17 2007 01:01 PM
Be from Manhattan

Clay wrote:

"Taxis move hundreds of people around a day, better to fill the city with taxis than cars and SUVs driving around individual people who can't be bothered to take mass transit."

But taxis make hundreds of trips a day, and are on the road 100% of the time, making up a large pecentage of the traffic. Whereas, private cars are usually on the road no more than 2-3 times a day, and if they are commuters, they are trying to spend as little times on the road as possible.

Jul. 17 2007 12:53 PM
Be from Manhattan

Neil wrote:

"Re: Brodsky's argument that we shouldn't price scare public goods.

There are many scare public goods that have fees attached. For instance, so play tennis or baseball in a city park, you have to pay a small fee for a permit or pass. The result is that people don't have to wait around at a court or baseball field all day for a turn to play."

What are you talking about? Firstoff, merely demonstrating that certain public goods are priced doesn't refute an arguement that they should not be priced. You made no point at all. In fact, playing tennis or baseball should not be priced. It's a public park. We already pay for it.
Secondly, the result of that pricing of public parks is that people are excluded from using them entirely. There is nothing efficient or fair about that. It's just plain wrong. The public pays taxes fro public park so the public can use it. End of story.

Jul. 17 2007 12:49 PM
Be from Manhattan

I agree with Jack Green and other comments that the effect of this program (while not the intent) is to keep the poor out of Manhattan.

Many people argue that the money will be used to help poor people in the burroughs by investing in public transportation. If the city and the MTA were serious about bringing public transportation to non-wealthy communitites then they would not have Phase I of the Second Ave. subway stop at 96th st. It is very likely that further funding to continue the subway up to 125th st will never materialize (let's not even talk about the T-line, which isn't scheduled to be completed until 2021.) I live on E. 72nd and will directly benefit from the Phase I plan, but even I can see that it is a terrible thing not to extend the subway up to the people in Spanish Harlem in Phase I. THose people will benefit from the new access to midtown far more than I or my white, middle/upper class neighbors. It's almost racist.

Jul. 17 2007 12:24 PM
michael winslow from Inwood

Enough enough enough.

I've had it with this story!

Bloomberg just wants to generate more money for the city. That's it!

This has nothing to with clean air!

Enforce the laws that in place.

I've yet to see a single person get a ticket for blocking the box!

The only way I would support it if they charged $18 per car and made the subway efficient and cheaper.

Jul. 17 2007 11:01 AM
JT from Long Island

This seems destined to never happen. The goal here is to make Manhattan a better place for people and for business and some people will probably end up paying more. That's life. People with no kids pay taxes that go to fund schools. People that don't use mass transit pay taxes that pay for it. You pay taxes that maintain streets in the city that you will probably never visit. You pay the same subway fare whether you go one stop or spend the entire day transferring between lines. These systems can't be 100% fair, but overall it balances out and we all benefit.

The details for congestion pricing have to be worked out and I'm sure there will be a lot of exceptions, but some of the exceptions I just heard on the radio are ridiculous. Someone wanting to bring their kids to see the Christmas tree? Paying the $8 for that one visit doesn't seem to be a hardship, especially since viewing the tree is free.

Everyone in the city will just have to adapt if congestion pricing ever happens. I'll have to decide if I want to pay $8 for the convenience of a car or take mass transit and maybe have to transfer or walk a few blocks.

And BTW, considering how bad traffic is in Manhattan, how hard it is to find parking, how expensive parking is if you pay for parking and how much gas costs I wonder if some low income people might end up saving a lot of money if this passes because they'll switch to mass transit.

Jul. 17 2007 11:00 AM
Roy Israel from Manhattan

I think congestion pricing could be implemented by increasing the NYC parking tax for daytime parking in garages in the congestion zone. Tourists, shoppers, and other occasional visitors could be accommodated by a limited number of monthly or annual exemptions from the daily tax. Residents who pay for 24-hour parking on a monthly basis should also be exempt from any additional parking tax.

Jul. 17 2007 10:53 AM
SuzanneF from Upper West Side

Why do people think this plan is for the wealthy and against the poor? This is about funding mass transit -- which would definitely benefit the working class (which is really all of us) and is not a gift to the rich. But this sad outcome really shows, once again, that NY State government is completely disfunctional. Remember that Sheldon Silver was key to eliminating the commuter tax. I wish Brian or someone would provide some numbers for the impact on NYC since then. Whose side is Silver on really? (His own, obviously.) If NYC drives the economic engine of the area, its future health is essential. Something will have to be done -- the status quo is not really an option. Better to implement something before things take a turn for the worse.

Jul. 17 2007 10:44 AM
Dawn

It should reduce congestion at manhattan entry points from the outer boroughs and discourage drive through traffic attempting to get to free bridges.

Jul. 17 2007 10:43 AM
David Alexander from Bellmore, NY

Multiple studies have shown the majority of drivers who drive into Manhattan are the rich and civil servants who have parking abilities. Most New York City residents who work in New York City use transit. The so-called middle class New Yorkers who drive into Manhattan for work don't exist because the parking fees discourage this. State Senator Broadsky's assertions about a family who can't drive into Manhattan is foolish given that the same middle class family is likely to visit Manhattan after 6PM, when the congestion pricing scheme is not in effect.

Jul. 17 2007 10:42 AM
Terri from Brooklyn

I'm generally in favor of congestion pricing, but I'm skeptical of the constant intonation that this particular plan will be 'good for New Yorkers'. I can see how this would be good for (some) in Manhattan, but how is this good for Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island? We're ALL New Yorkers. . . right?

Jul. 17 2007 10:40 AM
Alan from Manhattan

One way to reduce congestion would be to eliminate parking on the avenues. Use this lane for busses & delivery vehicles to load and unload. This would then allow the other lanes of avenues to flow better.

Jul. 17 2007 10:37 AM
Dawn

Why is congestion pricing framed as a 'regressive tax' on the lower and middle classes? Mass transit fares are also regressive. I don't pay less to ride the subway than someone that makes 5 times more than I do.

Jul. 17 2007 10:36 AM
Ina from New York City, Hell's Kitchen

I am confused why no other politicians or the media can look up the deadline or guidelines for this money from the Federal Goverment. Is the Mayor's office the only staff capable of finding this information?

Jul. 17 2007 10:36 AM
chris from l.e.s.


According to Brodsky: Cab drivers average $127K a year. Look, anyone that tries to slip that absurd stat into ANY argument, ought to be automatically dismissed.

Jul. 17 2007 10:35 AM
Evin Watson from Astoria

RE: Neil's statement

Neil is totally right in pointing out the flaws in the Assemblyman's logic... Anyone who has tried to play tennis on a PUBLIC court would be amazed by the $100.00 permit fee.

Jul. 17 2007 10:32 AM
Monica A from Manhattan

I think that so much of the resistance to the congestion pricing plan is due to ignorance about what kind of benefits this plan can bring to New York area residents. I lived in London both before and after their congestion pricing scheme was instituted. The benefits of the London plan were very positive. More money was put into the public transportation network. Traffic for those driving in the city and public buses moved at a rapid pace compared to the excruciating slow pace before the charging began. Yes, some people will have to pay an extra fee, but they will also be benefiting by being able to drive through the city at a faster pace. Those that don't want to pay will use the improved public transportation.

Jul. 17 2007 10:30 AM
clay

It's entirely foolish to point at Taxis as a cause of congestion. It's like saying that we'd have a lot more room if we got rid of buses.

Taxis move hundreds of people around a day, better to fill the city with taxis than cars and SUVs driving around individual people who can't be bothered to take mass transit.

Jul. 17 2007 10:29 AM
Evin Watson from Astoria

The opposition to congestion pricing is another example of New Yorkers eating their cake and wanting it too. Why can't our generation undertake programs whose immediate benefits might be small, but longterm benefits are priceless. The only way to congestion pricing is through enacting the program. A comission is pure politics, so assemblymen and women, can ride the fence when this comes up in 10 years when there is a charming yellow cloud above our lovely city. A cloud that will disregard class and race.

Jul. 17 2007 10:29 AM
Neil from Brooklyn

Re: Brodsky's argument that we shouldn't price scare public goods.

There are many scare public goods that have fees attached. For instance, so play tennis or baseball in a city park, you have to pay a small fee for a permit or pass. The result is that people don't have to wait around at a court or baseball field all day for a turn to play.

Congestion pricing would free up our streets for the more efficient users of the public streets: pedestrians and bicyclists.

Jul. 17 2007 10:27 AM
Jack Green from Manattan, NY

When I first moved to the upper east side from the bronx (Morris Park), I noticed one thing. There are plenty of parking spaces the closer to 5th avenue you get, and very few above 96th.

The reason? Rich people pay for parking, taxis, and drivers.

It is pretty clear to me that all congestion pricing is going to do is keep poor people out of manhattan. And yes, the lower middle class have cars, if you lived in the bronx you'd know. In fact, it is an added expense for these folks to have to take the subway, or pay for parking in the outer boroughs because they have to leave their car in the day time, and can't leave it because of alternate side parking.

There needs to be a way to implement congestion relief without giving a pass for the rich. I think we should encourage those who are less well off into mahattan rather than discourage. The point of reducing congestion is INCREASING the number of people who come into manhattan so that they can carry on business.

Why don't we tie it to your income tax. Maybe My buddies from the bronx should pay 0.50 cents and trump can pay $500 to cross 86th street. :)

Jul. 17 2007 10:26 AM
robert from park slope

Before supporting the proposal, I would like to see a "to do" list -- roughly prioritized -- of specific mass transit projects. Also, we like to know if there is anyway to ensure that revenues raised by the congestion pricing will truly be destined for mass transit improvement or will they quickly disappear into the ether like Port Authority tolls or state "tobacco settlement" funds.

Jul. 17 2007 10:23 AM
Rob from Brooklyn

Considering that these charges will be reduced by ez pass payments and as I recall the commuter tax has never been reinstated, I'd say suburban commuters are still getting a great deal from the city. Reign in the city worker placards and institute market based on street parking, then we'll see real reductions.

Jul. 17 2007 10:22 AM
Daniel from NYC

One thing that your callers are showing is that the Mayor's office has to educate what this program is... The lady thinks there will be toll booths? Come on! Is this 1807?

Jul. 17 2007 10:21 AM
obi from Queens, NY

Brian:

I just learned on your show this morning that taxis are exempt from the congestion pricing tolls. For me this just reinforces my perception that the mayor's plan is simply an attempt to take care wealthy manhatanites, who of course don't drive but take an awful lot taxis, at the expense of the the rest of the city. I think many new yorker rightfully see this issue as one that pits the rich against the poor.

Jul. 17 2007 10:21 AM
Daniel from NYC

You mention what we need to know to ACCEPT Congestion pricing and keep our legislators in office. I see the reverse...why should we keep the legislators in office who don't support this? Having seen London, this plan would instantly help the city. ...and auto owners should stop their whining and suck it up for the good of the city.

Jul. 17 2007 10:18 AM
Derek D from Brooklyn

Let's charge the suburbanites anyway! If the Assembly Speaker wants to play hardball let's threaten to charge them even more to come in. Up the tolls on the bridges!

Jul. 17 2007 10:12 AM

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