While most New Yorkers deem traffic congestion a serious problem, even more oppose congestion pricing in Manhattan as a strategy to lessen it, according to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey released January 18.
By any standard, New Yorkers are not enthused with congestion pricing - and the opposition is not just in the outer borought. Even in Manhattan, only 48% of respondents supported the strategy.
"By a 62 - 31 percent margin, New York City voters oppose congestion pricing, where vehicles are charged a fee to drive into Manhattan below 60th Street during rush hour, according to a Quinnipiac University poll."
Clearly the respondents were not thinking of their own travel behavior.
"Only 24 percent of those polled said they usually drive into Manhattan; 67 percent said they use mass transit."
While voters didn't buy the argument that congestion pricing would help the economy because it would reduce traffic congestion, they were split as to whether it would hurt businesses due to loss of business from motorists forgoing trips.
"Voters disagree 49 - 42 percent with the argument that congestion pricing would help the city's economy because traffic wastes billions of dollars a year in wasted time. They split 47 - 47 percent on the argument that congestion pricing is bad for the economy because fewer people will visit Manhattan restaurants and other businesses."
"Proponents are going to have a hard sell on congestion pricing. But if Mayor Bloomberg weighs in with his 75 - 16 percent approval rating, he does have political capital to spend on tough causes," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute."
One of the few positive results of the survey was that "voters agree by a narrow 48 - 45 percent margin that congestion pricing would improve mass transit because increased demand would lead to increased service."
"On the topic of whether the city's free East River crossings should be tolled, New Yorkers overwhelming said they were against it, with 78 percent saying no and 17 percent saying yes.
"New Yorkers see the free bridges as city streets and don't want to place a price tag on the right to drive," Carroll said of the poll with a 3.1 percentage margin of error."