Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Okay, so, in case you were up all night wondering about Comptroller William Thompson's subway bail-out proposal (introduced in November, re-iterated in Senate hearings yesterday) here's how it breaks down, according to spokeswoman Laura Rivera. Under the proposal, motorists who pay an average of $40 now for vehicle registration would pay an average $400 increase for their biannual fee. People who own large, heavy vehicles could pay even more than that. In general, policy wonks approve of disincentives for behavior that might be seen as anti-social (in this case owning large, heavy cars and light trucks that heavily contribute to global warming.) Suburbanites own 3.5 million cars, New York City residents 1.8. million, so that's 5.3 million cars times $200 annually, or $1.06 billion.
So, you ask, if that's such low-hanging fruit, why isn't Governor Paterson biting, instead of pushing the politically difficult East River Bridge tolls, where (some) people are reminded every day they're paying a new fee?
We get a couple answers to that. One is that Paterson, who this year is asking only for (only) some $60-odd million in additional vehicle registration fees, is actually intending to look next year to that potential revenue source. Another is that, well, the road-and-bridge lobby sees vehicle fees as their money, as in, it's sure isn't going to subways.
Meanwhile, Ilya Marritz from the newsroom reports that Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a key opponent to congestion pricing, is now convinced Albany will take "some action" to save the transit system. That may be sooner rather than later.