The following was published by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Queens Crap will reserve judgment on this one. We'll let you decide whether you agree with what they wrote. One thing is for sure, however: SOMETHING needs to be done about all the traffic in Queens. When you serve as the gateway between Manhattan and Long Island, it's inevitable that traffic will be a nightmare!
Congestion Pricing: What's the Problem With Queens?
Discussion about congestion pricing in New York City continued over the past few weeks, with the Manhattan Institute releasing results of focus group discussions of the issue. Bruce Schaller, the transportation consultant running the groups, found that support for congestion pricing among New Yorkers is mixed but not the political hot potato many think it is.
The study found that New Yorkers are especially attracted to congestion pricing if they think it will increase travel choices, be equitable, and reduce travel time in severely congested corridors. Overall, the findings were consistent with a Tri-State Transportation Campaign survey that found New Yorkers evenly split on applying a London-like congestion pricing plan to New York (MTR #545).
Schaller recommends a plan that includes congestion pricing for the Manhattan CBD, high occupancy toll lanes on key city highways and higher parking rates.
Knee-jerk opposition to congestion pricing in any form came as usual from Queens politicians, now coalesced with the AAA and parking industry as the Committee to Keep New York City Congestion-Tax Free. The committee is headed by former NYC City Council member Walter McCaffrey. The group says it supports improvements in transit service though offers no way to pay for them nor identifies clear entry points for discussion of such plans, such as the next MTA capital program.
Strangely, six of the seven bridges or tunnels that connect Queens to other boroughs (and most of Queens to the Rockaways) already have tolls. So is the big fuss in Queens really just about keeping the chronically-clogged Queensboro Bridge toll-free? It is true that Queens connections to some of the free bridges in Brooklyn are pretty direct (if one were driving from eastern Queens to City Hall, for example) but the big shifts in free versus paid car access to the central business district under the Manhattan Institute plan would be in Brooklyn and The Bronx, rather than in Queens.
McCaffrey told the New York Post that congestion pricing is a tax that would “hurt those just trying to make ends meet” who “have no choice but to drive.”
But the data contradicts such statements, as Bruce Schaller noted recently in the Gotham Gazette. Most people who drive in New York are in fact wealthier than those who take transit. Schaller notes that Manhattan-bound auto commuters from the outlying parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Islandearn 35% more than their more numerous counterparts who take the subway. And the fact that, according to the Census, only 28% of Manhattan-bound commuters who live in eastern Queens, southeastern Brooklyn or Staten Island drive to work proves that most people do, in fact, have access to transit. Driving into Manhattan is a choice, not a necessity.
According to the Tri-State Campaign public opinion poll, Queens residents are not overwhelmingly opposed to pricing policies to reduce congestion, as McCaffrey’s group would like the rest of the city to believe. In fact, Queens’ residents are evenly split on the issue, with 44% for and 45% opposed.
See www.manhattan-institute.org and gothamgazette.com. For further results of Tri-State’s poll, www.tstc.org.