Thursday, November 28, 2013

Congestion pricing redux

From the NY Times:

There could be no more talk, transit advocates reasoned, of “congestion pricing,” a phrase Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg often used before his sweeping plan to overhaul New York City’s bridge tolling system was vanquished in 2008, and treated as political arsenic ever since.

Then, with a clean slate, supporters could move on to the hard part: sculpting a proposal that might succeed where the mayor failed.

And so, more than five years after Mr. Bloomberg’s plan died in Albany, a cadre of the city’s transit minds has primed a successor, fine-tuning a pricing model that might be more palatable to residents outside Manhattan, meeting quietly with former opponents and preparing to take its case early next year to a public that has grown accustomed to free, if traffic-choked, rides over the East River.

Political obstacles abound, including securing the support of the State Legislature. But in what the plan’s supporters have billed as the most significant change of heart so far, Councilman Mark Weprin, an outspoken critic of the old proposal, said in an interview last week that he was receptive to this reimagined version.

“I’d like to have a chance to talk to them again,” he said of his constituents, “and say this makes a lot more sense.” (Mr. Weprin, a Queens Democrat, is running for City Council speaker.)

Proponents said the arrangement, devised by Samuel I. Schwartz, a former city traffic commissioner, would increase tolls in areas with high congestion and ample public transportation, and lower or eliminate them in transit-poor pockets, suggesting that Manhattanites would be asked to contribute more than they had under past proposals.

The plan championed by Mr. Bloomberg would have “raised revenue to do a lot of good things,” Mr. Schwartz said. “To be fair was not the fundamental premise.”

Move NY, the group behind the campaign, has billed the new plan as “fair tolling and transportation reinvestment,” adding that its details would not be made final until after a series of public forums next year. It can be distinguished from Mr. Bloomberg’s vision, the group said, in part because its revenues would be used not only to fund the capital program of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority but also to upgrade roads and bridges — a nod to drivers who might be expected to oppose any congestion-based pricing.

While the toll amounts could change, an example on Mr. Schwartz’s website included $5.33 E-ZPass tolls on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges — all of which are now free. The one-way rate to cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge would decline to $5.66, from $10.66, and tolls on the Robert F. Kennedy, Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone Bridges would be $2.83.

Traffic should be eased, Mr. Schwartz has said, because the adjusted rates would discourage “toll-shopping,” which can currently lead commercial vehicles and private drivers to take circuitous but inexpensive routes through some of the city’s busiest neighborhoods.

Rates could also be adjusted depending on the city’s economic fortunes, Mr. Schwartz said, potentially falling during lean periods.

Move NY estimated that the plan would create 35,000 jobs.


Anonymous said...

35,000 new jobs? That's BS and they know it!

Anonymous said...

I would like to see them build a toll on the qb bridge! That thing is sooooooo small as it is! But I suppose its possible now because of the ez pass. But I dont understand why we have to pay just to get to another part of the same city we live in. This is so stupid! Its like were imprisoned to the nyc government!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the money that is generated from this will allow them to build the Triboro-RX.

Anonymous said...

This is a stupid idea. The money that they make in tolls will disappear into the city budget, never to be used to actually fix the bridge you are paying for.

And once passed the outer boro tolls that will be reduced in the beginning will be raised again to what they are now.

Anonymous said...

i'm all for it as long as this comes with a fully approved, funded and ready to build plan to build new subway lines in queens for people who live close to the nassau border. or build new cheap parking near LIRR stations for people to take the train to work

i've driven into manhattan and the east side is a parking lot during rush hour. they need to do something