As Sam Schwartz’s Move NY traffic pricing plan once again makes the rounds, the usual suspects are lining up in support (and against) the proposal. A new mayoral administration could give supporters a chance to make waves, but this plan may live or die in the hands of Albany. Unsurprisingly, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is not racing to throw his weight behind it.
To reporters yesterday, Cuomo made a brief remark on the plan, showing his skeptical hand. “The East River bridge tools were brought up may times before, he said. “It’s a proposal that’s been brought up almost every year for the past several years. It hasn’t passed in the past and I don’t believe it will pass now.” Cuomo, of course, has the power to turn his words into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and he’s not even giving the plan a fair shakedown. I’m not surprised.
But should we be disappointed? Cuomo isn’t rushing out to support a traffic pricing plan for reasons I may not support, but a few good minds have cast some doubt on Schwartz’s current proposal. To get a sense of what, I’d direct you to a series of posts Cap’n Transit posted in 2012. He noted that the plan isn’t fair or equitable and went about discussing how it has incentives for future drivers and uninspired proposals and empty promises for bus service while overvaluing community boards and generally misses the point. I’m glad to see a traffic pricing plan back in the news, but it’s clear we have a long way to go before we reach a solution acceptable to everyone.
Cuomo would rather tax the middle class directly than this way
Okay, you lost me. What about tolling all bridges into Manhattan equally is unfair or inequitable, and what about it creates incentives to drive? I don’t see it and Captain Transit’s blog posts are just making me more confused.
Part of capns objection is that the plan encourages driving, even if not in the CBD. Dedicated busway on highway medians? Gets buses off the road, more room for cars. Highway widening? More room for cars. Lower tolls on some bridges? Cheaper to drive. Hence, encourages driving. Try rereading his posts, he makes some good points.
The argument seems to be that splitting toll revenue between roads and transit isn’t fair. I don’t entirely agree with that, either, but that misses the point. It’s the toll pricing structure itself that isn’t fair. It’s completely broken and in desperate need of reform. (Sidebar: if “congestion pricing” is such a bad term, can we just simply call it “toll reform?” Because that’s what it is and that’s what we need.)
From my southern Brooklyn neighborhood, I can take either of the subway lines that run through here and get to any point in Manhattan on a single-seat or one transfer. Or I can drive and pay nothing more than gas money. The regular trip I take to Staten Island, on the other hand, takes me three transfers – two trains and two buses. I would much rather drive, **specifically because** transit options are so limited, but tolls! $10.66 per trip adds up really fast.
I’ve heard people say they need their free East River Bridge to get to their job. Most of these are people who could take the subway, but don’t want to. (Or carpool to share the cost of a potential toll, but still don’t want to.) I’ve known a couple people who had to take the Verrazano-Bayonne combination to get to their job – that’s a double-toll hit, and they hardly have a practical transit or carpool option. But since we’re on the subject, at least their need for interborough travel is tied to income – the Verrazano toll is a punitive tax on people with families in two different boroughs.
I’m telling you, there is nothing fair about tolling the snot out of crossings without transit, and making options with transit-o-plenty free for drivers, and this Toll Reform proposal would fix that.
(Of course, a Staten Islander would only pay $6 for the same trip. Nothing fair about that, either.)
(Sorry for the long comment. But to say that Toll Reform isn’t fair, as if the current system is? That kind of empty thinking needs to be set straight.)
It has been brought up before. You know, like gay marriage, which was brought up many times before it past.
CP flat out makes more sense than Schwartz’s plan, however.
Cap’n Transit has one simple message: “investment” in highways takes away from parallel transit lines, viz. Kosciuszko Bridge replacement. I don’t particularly care if drivers get a “fair deal,” and over the last several decades in New York City I have noticed that “fairness” is a code word for the maintenance of Littlefield-style feudalism.
Congestion Pricing had the new bus routes as a feature; this plan seems only to offer small relief for folks who live around the DOT bridges.