Friday, July 25, 2008

One more look at congestion pricing

Commuter Outrage has a concise, intelligent summary of how the Bloomberg way of thinking about transit is fatally flawed:

...never mind that without the funds cars raise, mass transit wouldn’t exist. 15.5% of your gas tax pays for mass transit - sssssshhhhhhhh, that’s a dirty little secret.

I also like the internal inconsistency in the logic behind congestion pricing – we will tax cars to bail out MTA, but the tax exists to alleviate congestion, so it will remove cars from the roads, and decrease revenues from the tax, making MTA’s problem even worse because they will have more riders and even less revenues. Brilliant! Thanks for those awesome solutions.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, not too wise of you to link to CommuterOutrage. Don't drink too much kool-aid.

Anonymous said...

It's the Streetsbloggers and Bloomberg supporters who are drinking the Kool-Aid. Nice rebuttal to their points, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I have a solution - let's tax the bicycle riders!

Truman Harris said...

Sounds good to me. They use the roads, too.

Ridgewoodian said...

TRUMAN HARRIS: Sounds good to me. They use the roads, too.

But:

1) They don't use nearly as much of it.
2) They don't pollute the atmosphere.
3) They don't fund terrorism.
4) They don't help cause oil wars.

Aside from that, sure. How much would you suggest the tax be?

Anonymous said...

Do they have oil heat in their houses? Then 2-4 don't apply.

Ridgewoodian said...

ANONYMOUS: Do they have oil heat in their houses? Then 2-4 don't apply.

Funny, didn't realize this thread was about home heating; I thought it was about congestion pricing and the somewhat related issue of biking in the city. Silly me.

If a biker and an automobiler both heat their homes with oil then, all other things being equal, the biker still pollutes the atmosphere less, funds terrorism less, and contributes less to the need for oil wars.

Granted, we would do well to try to move away from oil heating. Germany has done a lot with solar energy, although not without controversy.

Anonymous said...

You're the one who brought it up, genius.

Anonymous said...

If there are less cars on the road, then we will have to make up for lost tax revenue that would have come from them. So we will have no choice but to tax bicyclists or raise the train and bus fare astronomically.

Anonymous said...

I am commenter #1.

to #2 - My point was not to explain the actual facts of congestion pricing to you. If, after all these years, you consistently fail to grasp the basics of how it works (why yes, it does work), then I cannot help you.

Anonymous said...

How exactly did it work for London? They expanded the radius of the zone and raised the fare because too many cars were coming into the city anyway. There was no effect on pollution at all.

Ridgewoodian said...

ANONYMOUS: You're the one who brought it up, genius.

Were you responding to me? If you were I suppose you seem to think that I brough up the issue of home heating. In which case you would be incorrect.

If you weren't responding to me, what the hell are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

You are the one who brought up the fact that car drivers use oil. Well so do home heaters, which bicyclists are.

Ridgewoodian said...

ANONYMOUS: You are the one who brought up the fact that car drivers use oil. Well so do home heaters, which bicyclists are.

Well, leaving aside the fact that I didn't use the word "oil" in my first post (although, to be fair to you, that's what I was talking about) and that I didn't write about what car drivers DO so much as what bikers DON'T do, the context of the post was clearly TRANSPORTATION. No one was discussing home heating. That could be another thread; it wasn't this one. And, it doesn't affect my point at all since, as I wrote, all other things being equal, someone who heats their home with oil and bikes will almost certainly be using LESS oil than someone who heats their home with oil and drives.

Christ....

Anonymous said...

Hey, can we tax trumans hot air also? My payroll state taxes already pay for your roads, and my roads.Move to a state with less taxes and stay home some more.

Anonymous said...

This Congestion Tax Provides Nowhere Near the Funding to Cover the Cost of All the Promised Projects.

Congestion pricing is extraordinarily inefficient as a revenue raiser. Proponents agree the scheme's annual operating costs would total $240 million out of $620 estimated gross revenues. People who live, work, do business in and visit New York would be paying $2 of every $5 million collected to the program and not on projects to improve mass transit and clean our air. Alternative measures exist to raise revenues for mass transit. State legislators raised various sales and mortgage recording taxes. The Queens Civic Congress proposes a revenue-sharing tax on non-city residents so the covered suburban counties benefit pro-rata; New York City would keep the revenue from out of state residents. Queens Civic Congress' innovative revenue proposal would provide 100% it collects – and double to triple the net revenue estimated by the Congestion Tax. By incessantly and misleadingly linking their proposal to the projected $31 billion shortfall in capital funding through 2030, and the prospect of a 20% fare hike, congestion tax supporters have sought to create the impression that it is the key to solving the region’s transportation capital financing problems. If charges are set at the proposed levels, revenues from this congestion tax on businesses and people driving into or within Midtown and Lower Manhattan would finance only a fraction of the projected shortfall. The Independent Budget Office projects a $799 million MTA fiscal year 2008 operating deficit, exceeding $1.45 billion in FY2009. If the Legislature were to approve the congestion tax tomorrow, it would produce nothing in FY2008, perhaps $200 million in FY2009, and net but $380 million in FY2010 – when the congestion tax would be fully operational – but the MTA’s deficit will reach $1.78 billion. Congestion tax revenues simply aren’t enough – and would arrive too late – to avert significant fare increases during the next two years. And this tax scheme got linked to the fare in an effort to diffuse opposition to the tax. See our report: Congestion pricing: No Salvation For the MTA.

Anonymous said...

"all other things being equal, someone who heats their home with oil and bikes will almost certainly be using LESS oil than someone who heats their home with oil and drives."

Whether you give a $25 donation to the jihad or a $1000 donation, you're still part of the terrorism funding problem.

Fred said...

When bicyclists can prove they all live in homes heated by natural gas and use solar power for their electricity, then they can lecture me about my car using habits. Until that day, they can shove it. Buildings are responsible for for FAR more greenhouse emissions than cars, cause wars and all that other gobledygook nonsense.

Anonymous said...

With governments around the world providing gas subsidies, therefore encouraging people to conserve less and burn more, the environment has less to worry about from us and more from developing countries.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, god forbid we provide a positive example and leadership to the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

Oh but god forbid we should do that! Tell other countries how to go about doing things? Can you imagine the firestorm of controversy, led mostly by people within this country?

Ridgewoodian said...

ANONYMOUS: See our report: Congestion pricing: No Salvation For the MTA.

I actually agree with part of this position paper, namely: "Any realistic response to the region’s mass transit operating and capital financing needs is going to require additional contributions from all of the available sources –the farebox, State and City taxes, and subsidies from motorists."

Congestion pricing isn't perhaps THE solution, but it would surely help. HERE'S a report from NYPIRG's Straphanger's Campaign on the need for congestion pricing. HERE'S a report from a couple of years ago from the Regional Planning Association discussing various options for funding the MTA, including what they call "traffic pricing."

ANONYMOUS: Whether you give a $25 donation to the jihad or a $1000 donation, you're still part of the terrorism funding problem.

Perhaps that's true. But I'd say the person giving $10,000 is 400 times worse. If I could reduce the amount of funds al-Qaeda has on hand to 1/400 of what they have now - whatever that amount is - I'd do it like THAT. Wouldn't you? $10,000 pays for terrorist flight training, $25 is MAYBE cab fare to the airport.

FRED: When bicyclists can prove they all live in homes heated by natural gas and use solar power for their electricity, then they can lecture me about my car using habits.

So are you saying that until the day when we can reduce our oil use to ZERO we shouldn't try to reduce our use of it at all? What the hell kind of sense does THAT make? I agree that we should move to better, more sustainable ways of heating our homes. Solar power could possibly be part of that in the future. But to forgo making improvements that we can make today is just stupid.

ANONYMOUS: With governments around the world providing gas subsidies, therefore encouraging people to conserve less and burn more, the environment has less to worry about from us and more from developing countries.

What do you consider our little Iraqi adventure to be, aside from a vast Oedipal gas subsidy? Rather than following the misguided example of our Third World friends, perhaps we should go along with our European brethren and price the stuff at something like its true cost.