Apr
23

Mayor Mike’s congestion tax plan sends more $$$ to mass transit

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The Mayor’s PLANYC2030 calls for an $8 congestion tax for cars enterting Manhattan’s Central Business District between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the week.

Woah, baby. If you think the Red Sox and Yankee fans have it out for each other, wait until the congestion fee foes start taking on the proponents of Mayor Bloomberg’s PLANYC2030. It’s going to get messy around here.

(Side note to Yankee fans: Don’t despair. Despite the infuriating managerial style of Joe Torre, this weekend wasn’t terrible. There’s more at River Ave. Blues. So go there. Ok. Plug over.)

On Sunday — Earth Day 2006 — Mayor Mike finally released the details of his plan to provide for a sustainable New York City by the year 2030. Heavy on the environmental aspects of creating a livable city and focusing on providing better public transportation for the Center of the Universe, Bloomberg’s plan will make or break Mayor Mike’s NYC legacy. And as with any comprehensive plan of this magnitude, it is rife with controversy.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll explore the various aspects of Bloomberg’s plan as they relate to public transportation. With the Second Ave. Subway and dedicated bus express lanes key proponents of the transportation aspect to PLANYC2030, I’ll have a lot to say. Today, let’s look at the congestion fee. The New York Times reports on what will be a very controversial plan:

The proposal that is sure to attract the most attention, and possibly objections, is one to impose the $8 fee on car drivers, and $21 for truck operators, to drive in Manhattan south of 86th Street. The mayor said congestion on the city’s streets is the source of many of the city’s health, environmental and economic problems. “We can’t talk about reducing air pollution without talking about congestion,” he said…

The fee the mayor is proposing would only be imposed during the week, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.. And motorists driving the major highways along Manhattan’s east and west sides would not be fined, so it would be possible to go from Brooklyn to Harlem along Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive without entering the zone. The fee would be deducted from the tolls commuters already pay to come into Manhattan via the bridges or tunnels. There would be no toll booths, just a network of cameras that would capture license plate numbers and either charge a driver’s existing commuter account or generate a bill to be paid each time.

According to Bloomberg’s estimates, this congestion plan would generate $400 million in revenue in its first year alone. This money would be invested into the transportation network that serves and surrounds the city. The MTA would receive money for additional lines and much-needed upgrades.

Furthermore, as commuters are turned off from driving because of this high fee, more people will turn to the subways as alternate means of transportation, and the MTA should enjoy a financial benefit from the increased ridership as well.

As an advocate of mass transit, I am, as I noted on Friday, fully in support of this plan. Fewer cars in Manhattan, fewer cars on the roads around New York, that all sounds perfect to me.

But the debate will get nasty. Outer borough residents (wrongly) feel this will negatively impact their economies, and business owners won’t like the $21 truck charges which they will have to pick up. As part of the coverage of transportation in New York City, I’ll be following this debate as well. So stay tuned. It should be a good one.



3 Responses to “Mayor Mike’s congestion tax plan sends more $$$ to mass transit”

  1. Todd says:

    I’m really torn on this, and I don’t drive in NYC at all.

    I guess my two big questions are:

    1. Can our mass transit system handle the anticipated 1 million extra people moving into NYC, let alone the additional people who will leave their cars at home after this charge is started?

    2. If trucks have that extra charge added to their cost of delivering goods to the city, aren’t the prices for those goods just going to increase?

    There was a guy in The Daily News that made a few really good suggestions, but I’m still not convinced.

  2. You say that outer borough inhabits say wrongly that this will negatively affect them. I don’t drive at all (I never got in my license) but I have a three hour commute to and from Manhattan everyday. Why? Because the subway doesn’t run to my community. I take a 30 minute bus ride, to the first stop of the number 7 train, which I take to the last stop and then hop another train to get downtown. I could shave time off of my commute by taking the Long Island Railroad, but it would bring my total commute cost to over $200 dollars a month. A lot of my friends drive into manhattan for work when running late, because the railroad is just as expensive as driving, and the subway won’t get them there in time. For those of us who *really* live in the outerboroughs, as opposed to simply five minutes away by subway from Manhattan this does give us the short shift. In addition, the city needs to improve mass transit between the boroughs – when I lived in brooklyn I used to have to take the train into manhattan to get back out to a different part of brooklyn. That’s insanity. When I want to go to the bronx by mass transit, it’s actually faster for me to take the bus/train into manhattan and then up to the bronx, then to just take a bus from Northern Queens which is actually closer to that part of the bronx. It’s insanity.

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