Archive for the ‘Congestion Pricing’ Category

Service of Initiatives That are Both Just and Unjust

Thursday, June 13th, 2024

A side street on the East side in midtown.

There are some programs, initiatives or fights that have both intensely just and unjust components complicating decisions about which is the right way to go. Pondering where you come out can turn your brain around like a ball on a spinning roulette wheel. Elements of both sides of the argument make good sense, so you agree and disagree in equal measure.

Congestion pricing for Manhattan is a perfect example. Passenger cars that drive below 60th Street would pay a $15 toll which would be more for larger vehicles and less late at night and for motorcycles. The toll was almost set to go when at the last-minute New York Governor Hochul pulled the plug for now.

Our streets are jammed with cars and trucks creating traffic and pollution nightmares. The Metropolitan Transit Authority needs money to install elevators at subway stations for strollers and handicapped passengers as well as to extend the Second Avenue Subway.

On the other hand, retail, restaurant and entertainment businesses that have barely recovered from the impact of work-from-home programs that sucked millions out of midtown during Covid shudder at the anticipated reduction of customer traffic. Most will need to increase prices to compensate for what shippers pass along to them to cover the cost of their tolls. Consequently, citizens in the impacted area will pay more for what they buy as well as for taxi and car services that swing in and out of 60th Street.

A long-term impact might be that companies that can will move their businesses out of NYC which would impact the Big Apple’s tax coffers.

If you never need a taxi that crosses the toll boundary, don’t require a vehicle to carry heavy tools for your job or a disabled friend, client or relative, don’t live and shop in the affected area, and never go to theater or concerts from a neighborhood with nonexistent or unreliable public transportation, the decision is much easier.

Can we trust that buses and subways, already jammed at times and too often delayed, will sufficiently compensate for anticipated additional passengers?

What other issues make you go round and round when you weigh the pros and cons to decide on which side you stand? Where do you fall on congestion pricing in Manhattan?

The cars in the bus lane on Second Avenue in the 50s do not belong there.

Service of Congestion Pricing: Positive or Negative Impact on NY Metro Area?

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Michael Riedel declared on the radio yesterday morning that he doesn’t care about the impending congestion pricing initiative slated for high traffic zones in Manhattan because he won’t be impacted by it as his colleagues might. He lives in the Village and often rides his bicycle to work. He’s half the WOR Radio 710 morning team. Len Berman, the other half, drives in from Long Island and the other key players are news director Joe Bartlett and executive producer Natalie Batos-Vacca. They hail from New Jersey. The latter three are currently less enthusiastic.

The system that state legislators approved in concept on Monday might start as early as the end of 2020. A network of license plate readers would bill vehicles south of Central Park. The money would supplement the tolls on seven bridges and tunnels around the city that charge between $9.50 and $15.

According to an Associated Press [AP] article that appeared in USA Today, some 717,000 vehicles daily enter the high traffic zone in question. With a toll of say $11.52, [which is being considered] proponents estimate a 13 percent reduction in traffic and $1.1 billion/year in revenues. After expenses, the money would go to trains and buses. Pollution should also be less.

The scheme has been in place in London [since 2003], Stockholm [since 2007] and Singapore [since the 1070s]. At first the effect was positively felt in London but congestion has increased lately because of businesses like Uber that were exempt from the toll. That changes on April 8.

The AP asked, as do I, if there is sufficient alternate transportation for those who give up their cars. What happens to taxis, delivery trucks, and ride-hail cars that might go in and out of the zone multiple times a day? Will excessive exemptions weaken the effect of the initiative? One pundit predicted that people “aren’t going to abandon their cars to get into the subway.”

“Asked about concerns over whether such a beleaguered transit system could even handle more riders if people decided not to drive into Manhattan, [Kate] Slevin pointed out that transit officials have almost two years to take steps that will help, like redoing bus routes.” Slevin is with an advocacy organization that supports the congestion toll.

How come we hear nothing about measures taken to belt-tighten at the MTA? Anyone review the budget for pork and ways for efficiency to lower the cost of doing business? The organization might find more than enough money for repairs were these steps taken.

Is Riedel right: That because he doesn’t live or work in the high traffic zone congestion pricing won’t impact him in any way? Do you think New York City’s limping transportation system can withstand an increased passenger load until the money kicks in to improve things? Aren’t the exorbitant fees in high traffic zones that are already added to the cost of yellow taxi rides—onerous for citizens and a death knell for the taxi owners–enough? Might the new tolls impact the value of residential real estate in the boroughs and NY Metro area?

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