Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I'm Feeling a Little Congested, How About Coughing Up $200 Million?

So, on Monday the NYC Council passed the congestion pricing proposed by Bloomy himself. It won by a 30-20 margin. For those who haven't really read about it or heard more than the occasional rumor, this would mean an $8/ day on those traveling into Manhattan below 86th street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.. But to be honest, I have a lot of questions. From everything i've read or seen everything mentions travel below 86th street, but what about lower manhattan? What if you travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan utilizing the Manhattan or Brooklyn Bridge... are you then exempt? All of these things need to be fleshed out but there are some details that have been set. Anybody traveling from New Jersey would receive a credit for the tolls they already had to pay crossing the Hudson, but only if they have E-Z pass. Now why is that?! I mean it's just preposterous, if you paid cash your tolls don't exist but if you paid with E-Z Pass they do? Another rule is exempt cars include school buses, traffic enforcement vehicles, oh yes! and any car with handicapped plates or cards. So are people going to be dragging their parents to go get handicapped plates or proof so they won't have to pay a toll? It seems to be like people are just going to become very savvy as to the ways, if any, around these tolls.

Another surprising twist in the story is many of these affirmative votes came from all of the boroughs, including Brooklyn and Queens where the culture is much more car-centric. The payback?, specifically allotted funds to benefit those districts that voted YAY! instead of nay to improve their specific mass transit lines.

Another smokey mirror in this whole plan is that subsequent to a green light from Albany New York will receive a $354 million dollar grant to improve congestion. What Bloomy will have you believe is that that $354 is given to implement his million dollar baby. Yet as said here ( ) that is specifically earmarked by the fed to go to mass transit improvements (ferry services, bus depots, etc.). Of that chunk of change only about $10 million was approved to actually install the technology used to charge people (which f.y.i. will be done using scanners to pick up your easy pass or cameras to take pictures of your license plate for us proud non E-Z pass using citizens). So this leaves NYC with the problem of raising the $200 million to actually put this plan into effect. So Bloomy where do you expect to come up with that kind of cheddar? This whole plan seems like one big ploy to get his name down in the books but I could be wrong. This system is in effect in many other parts of the world and for better or worse worked like a charm. Here's my question, if it is implemented and this money does start coming in, will it really improve congestion and will the money truly go to improve mass transit? Will it stave off more fare hikes?

Regardless of where I stand there is one person who is DEFINITELY against congestion pricing, and it's Mister Corzine himself. If passed he is prepared to directly sue. He's just protecting his homies in the garden state who, if this is passed and they aren't using an E-Z pass, could be slapped with up to $16 for just one trip into and out of Manhattan, and who can blame him? It all seems like a little too much to me, but I'm ready and eager for comments.

No comments: