Sam Schwartz: Don't Call it Congestion Pricing

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Sam Schwartz, in a 2011 dramatization of what East River Bridge tolls would have amounted to if they'd been in effect since the bridges were open. (photo Jim O'Grady)


Former New York City Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz doesn't want you to call his fair plan "congestion pricing."  Speaking on the Brian Lehrer show today (end of the segment) -- the last of four segments discussing his fair plan to reorganize tolls and fund transit -- Schwartz said he was disappointed to hear Cuomo's response to his plan, but thinks it's a matter of framing.

Here's the exchange:

Brian Lehrer: "We've had a great caller response all month Sam, you've gotten good press, from media outlets ranging from the New York Times to National Review on line.  But in the real world you would need Albany's support. I'm sure you're aware that Governor Cuomo was asked about your plan in a press conference just Tuesday of this week. He was asked if he had seen "Sam Schwartz's revised congestion pricing plan."

And he said this:

Cuomo: I have not seen it. We've talked about congestion pricing  for many years, we've tried to pass it in the past, it hasn't passed, i don't know that  anything has happened to change that dynamic.  I just don't know that you have the political support to pass it."

BL: Were you disappointed to hear that, Sam -- that he hadn't even heard about it?

Schwartz: The Governor I'm sure has read about it.  It certainly got a lot of coverage but when you frame it as congestion pricing alone and not as correcting the pricing scheme that you have in New York --

BL: That was the problem.  I was annoyed.  Because it was framed as having seen Sam Schwartz's congestion pricing plan, rather than Sam Schwartz's innovative overall, the imaginative plan for the next 50 years of New York City and vicinity maybe he would have responded a little differently if it wasn't just asked as congestion pricing plan.

Schwartz: Exactly Brian, and that's how I felt.  That's why you'll rarely see me using the words congestion pricing.