NYC Long-Term Plans Expected To Include Congestion Pricing

In an Earth Day speech, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to unveil a plan for the future that is sure to have contentious elements, the most provocative being a congestion pricing scheme that he has long resisted.

"On Sunday, Earth Day (April 22), Mayor Blumberg will unveil his plan for the next quarter century of New York City. It is expected to include 'contentious proposals that are intended to ease traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, build housing, improve mass transit and develop abandoned industrial land."

"Toward that end, Mr. Bloomberg is expected to advocate more than 100 proposals, including charging drivers to enter the busiest sections of Manhattan, and using zoning and tax incentives to encourage the construction of 250,000 homes."

"The proposal being formulated calls for money raised from congestion pricing, which could reach hundreds of millions of dollars a year, to go into a fund for large-scale transportation investments. Those would include projects for the boroughs outside Manhattan, where drivers would be most affected by new fees that could reach $8, minus a credit for any tolls already in effect."

"Opposition has already formed to congestion pricing, which Mr. Bloomberg himself has resisted in recent years. Walter McCaffrey, a lobbyist representing Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free, which is made up of garage owners, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and some labor and neighborhood advocates, says the city should look at other methods of dealing with congestion before resorting to such a 'draconian' method."

Full Story: Bloomberg to Unveil Long-Term Vision for City



re tax to enter nyc by car

I hope the mayor's office of planning is reading this.

The tax idea, while lovely in theory, shows how out of touch your office is with the outer boroughs. When you make the subways and buses in the outer boroughs of New York City as clean and well designed as they are in London and Stockholm, then the tax is a good idea.

But the NY subway and bus system is notoriously dirty and the buses are so slow, it's a sub-par system that is unbelievable for a major city.

I have regularly waited an hour with long lines of senior citizens for buses in the outer boroughs. Although we appreciate those new bus stops, you have a long way to go. When you give us good bus and train service, real bicycle lanes that the cars don't ride into, buses equipped with bike holders, maybe then we can talk about a tax.

NY Congestion Fee Will Pay For Transit

You missed an important point in Bloomberg's speech: he said the congestion fee will be used to pay for better transit - and that the congestion fee would not be implemented until better transit to the outer boroughs is in place. Here is a direct quote from Bloomberg's speech:

"We know that service to many areas is not what it should be. That's why, before implementing congestion pricing we'll implement a range of mass transit improvements to our least-served neighborhoods."

So if you care about those senior citizens waiting for the bus, you should back this plan to provide them with better service.

I wouldn't call congestion pricing a tax: it is a fee you pay to mitigate the problems you cause for everyone else by driving into Manhattan. Currently, buses crawl along and emergency vehicles get stuck in traffic because of the congestion.

It is also a fee you pay to very partially mitigate your car's contribution to global warming. Calculate the carbon footprint of your car: it is about 20 pounds of CO2 for each gallon of gasoline you burn. Then think about the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying that, unless we act dramatically to slow global warming, drought will kill hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia before the end of this century.

Maybe those poor, suffering people in the outer boroughs don't really have it so bad compared with the people who are threatened by drought. Maybe they should be willing to back policies that make them cut back on their driving a bit in order to slow global warming.

Charles Siegel

it's still a tax to enter nyc for life long borough residents

"Fee" is such a nice euphemism for a tax on the middle classes of the outer boroughs. Please, no vague language about "the poor."

Have you been to the outer boroughs of NYC? I don't mean Brooklyn Heights, LIC. Go deeper into the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn- there are lifelong residents of NYC there. Hardworking teacher, nurses, janitors, etc. who make Manhattan run.

As you must know, residents of the outer boroughs often remain relegated to the outer boroughs due to inflated real estate prices in Manhattan. They have no way of affording Manhattan.

Why not tax those fortunate to live in Manhattan, but don't live here full-time. Or those kids who experiment with NY and then leave after a year, after they've inflated our rents? I know, I know, that's where constitutional law kicks in. But doesn't con law kick in for charging NJ residents working in NY?

I have no sympathy for Bloomberg and his speeches of making things better- he let the MTA strike of 2005 hit the bus system in the outer boroughs first. Actions speak louder than words.

It Is Not A Tax To Enter New York

It is not a tax to ENTER New York. It is a fee to BRING A CAR into New York. If you enter in any other way, you don't pay this fee.

A car driving in Manhattan takes maybe 500 square feet of road space (counting the spacing between cars). If you let people claim 500 square feet of Manhattan real estate without paying anything for it, you will obviously create a shortage of that real estate. (just as there would be a shortage of gasoline if we gave gasoline away for free).

Being a life-long resident dosn't give you a right to claim that 500 square feet of Manhattan road space for free - any more than it gives you the right to have the city provide you with free gasoline or with free parking in Manhattan. Since land is scarce, you pay a fee for the parking space you use in Manhattan; why shouldn't you also pay a fee for the road space?

The only way to reduce congestion is to charge for the use of this road space. A "tax on those fortunate enough to live in Manhattan" would not reduce congestion.

Congestion costs New York $13 billion per year. (See

The great majority of people from the other boroughs come into Manhattan by transit, but they are hurt by the congestion when they get there - eg, they have trouble getting around by bus and crossing the street because of congestion. In fact, those who come in by car are hurt even more by congestion: it is slow and very tense to drive in Mid-town Manhattan. At the times when you do have to drive into Manhattan, your life would be much easier if you didn't have to fight all that congestion - as it would be easier for trucks making deliveries.

Have I been to the outer boroughs of New York? Yes, I grew up in Flatbush. There were lots of very hard working people there. And all those people took the subway to go to Manhattan.

Let's provide better transit service to the parts of the outer boroughs that are underserved, so more people can take transit into Manhattan conveniently - rather than congesting the roads and making life harder for themselves and for everyone else.

Charles Siegel

Experience in London

I lived in London when the congestion charge went into effect. The experience was entirely positive. Immediately the buses moved faster, and within months many of the most important and longer distance lines had been upgraded. Before the congestion charge my route was served by quaint but antiquated double deckers. During the morning commute often buses would pass by my stop without picking anyone up because they were full. After a few months they were replaced with the larger sleeker bendy buses, which had multiple doors and could pack in lot more people. (Granted the things have an annoying habit of catching fire.) And many of the stops were fitted with electronic boards that would tell you how long until the next bus arrived, which was a great improvement.

I've come to believe that people need to realize that in carrot and stick situations, the stick has to come first to pay for the carrot. However the public agency has to deliver the carrot if they want to be a success.

Also I noticed a lot of commentators opposed to the congestion charging were very concerned about all the middle and lower income workers like nurses who work late, and plumbers who rely on their trucks. However I wondered where these people were when public transit systems are being attacked and dismantled in the 1980's. These actions were much more harmful to the vast majority of middle and low income workers. I found, and still find this line of argument disingenuous, and anecdotal.

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