NEW YORK | Congestion Pricing

Thank goodness. Definitely no for congestion pricing. I’m all for a heavily pedestrian focused city, but its too expensive, and driving shouldn’t be penalized even more.

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As MTA hunts for money, group touts support for plan to add tolls on East River bridges

By Dan Rivoli on December 17, 2014

As state and transit officials figure out how to pay for fixing and expanding the transportation system, a group says it’s got the plan that will do the job and has the support of New Yorkers.

Move NY, a group pushing a congestion-pricing-style bridge toll plan from transit guru Gridlock Sam Schwartz, wants to raise $1.4 billion a year from new tolls on the city’s four free East River bridges and Manhattan below 60th Street, as well as a surcharge on taxi rides.
In exchange, less-trafficked outerborough bridges that have large cash tolls, like the $15 to enter Staten Island on the Verrazzano Bridge or $7.50 per ride on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, would get a substantial cut.

While past ideas for congestion pricing and East River bridge tolls have been politically toxic, Move NY said 45% of voters in the city and the surrounding counties back “balancing” bridge tolls, while support grew to 62% when details of the tolling plan and its benefits were provided, according to a memo for a Global Stategy Group poll done for the group and TransitCenter, a research organization.

“If New Yorkers are presented with a comprehensive, fair plan for improving our city’s roads and bridges and transit system, they’re going to be on board,” said Move NY campaign director Alex Matthiessen.

City and MTA officials have said publicly they are aware of the Move NY plan from Schwartz, a former city transportation commissioner, but have never come out in support. But officials are now talking about the need to find new, consistent streams of revenue, while easing the burden on the riding public that funds about half of the cost to run the entire system – the biggest share in the country compared to other cities’ mass transit systems. Tolls and fares are already set to increase in 2015 and 2017.

I am certainly pro-congestion pricing, if done the right way, though if there are other ways to raise funds to maintain the infrastructure, I’d certainly be for that as well. Bottom line, the money has to come from somewhere, and driving in NYC is not a necessity for most residents.

Reducing or even removing the toll on the Verrazano would make sense to me though, as long as it gets picked up on the East River crossings. Staten Island residents have limited options in terms of public transportation off the island already.


Proposed ‘congestion pricing’ for free bridges blasted at protest

By Reuven Fenton on March 1, 2015 | 9:32pm

Queens assemblyman David Weprin called the proposal “highway robbery.”

Elected officials and civic leaders blasted a congestion pricing proposal Sunday that would slap tolls on all four of the city’s free East River crossings in order to reduce tolls on other bridges.

The MOVE NY plan calls for the Ed Koch, Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges to impose a toll of $8.00 or $5.54 with EZPass.

“I can think of no better example of actual highway robbery,” Assemblyman David Weprin of Queens said Sunday at a protest near the Ed Koch Bridge.

“It is nothing but a renewed congestive pricing initiative,” he added.

The plan, which is supported by transportation advocates like the Straphangers Campaign, would also call for a reduction of the tolls on the Whitestone and Verrazanno bridges by $2.50 each way.

The plan over here:

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Crowds and Long Delays Fray Subway System and Riders’ Nerves

By Emma G. Fitzsimmons on March 19, 2015

…On Sunday, the base fare will rise to $2.75, from $2.50, the latest in what the authority has said will be regular — and necessary — increases.

Transit advocates say that while they understand the angst over another fare increase, they are focused on securing money from state and city officials for the authority’s capital plan, which includes many of the very upgrades that would bring meaningful improvement to commutes. The plan proposes $32 billion in spending over five years, but it is $15 billion short — the largest funding gap ever and a striking sign of the difference between what the system needs and what the authority can afford.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has called the plan “bloated” and has not addressed the funding gap, instead publicly drawing attention to other infrastructure projects, including a new Tappan Zee Bridge and his proposal for an AirTrain to La Guardia Airport. But the authority’s chairman, Thomas F. Prendergast, has argued that the measures outlined in the capital plan are essential, such as replacing aging cars and tracks, modernizing the signal system so more trains can run and beginning the next phase of the Second Avenue subway.

For most riders, their only regular connection to the agency’s budget is the money they load onto their MetroCards. While some believe the authority makes a profit by charging more than the ride costs, the system is, in fact, heavily subsidized, with fares making up about 40 percent of its operating revenue. Experts have called for a more sustainable source of funding; one proposal, by Move NY, would establish tolls for drivers on the East River bridges in Manhattan, an idea that was rejected in Albany in 2008.

…Mr. Brecher has called for other measures to improve service and shore up the authority’s finances, including higher subsidies for the agency from drivers’ tolls and fees. Move NY organizers say their plan, which also lowers tolls on some other bridges, would fully finance the capital program.

As he rode the No. 6 train on a recent afternoon, Scott Singer, 62, a lawyer who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, said he supported the tolls plan because the authority was too dependent on fare revenues.

“I think we should have done it 35 years ago,” he said. “I’ve always thought it was insane there were no tolls on those bridges.”

For now, riders are bracing for the fare increase. Many commuters who use the 30-day pass say they can absorb the extra $4.50 a month while it will be harder on riders with low incomes.

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Mayor Does Not Include Congestion Pricing in Sustainability Plan

By Ross Barkan on April 22, 2015

The Brooklyn Bridge would be hit with a toll under a new congestion pricing plan. (Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to consider building a subway line down Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, a new connection between the L and 3 lines in East New York and expanding the number of Select Bus Service routes. One way he’s apparently not looking to fund any of these upgrades is with congestion pricing.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, notably did not mention the “Move NY Fair Plan” in the sustainability agenda he unveiled today in the Bronx. In fact, as he did before, Mr. de Blasio insisted he still hasn’t read up on the pricing scheme, which would place tolls on the East River Bridges, charge motorists to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street and lower tolls on other outer borough crossings.

“I think it is a productive contribution to the discussion,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters. “We are going to sit with all of our partners in the region and talk about a way forward because it has to be dealt with.”

“That will be one of the ideas on the table, but that is a long process, and I can’t conclude anything about the way forward until we have those discussions,” he added.

Mr. de Blasio’s sustainability plan, known as “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” is a rebranding of his predecessor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC. Mr. de Blasio, who is legislatively mandated to update the plan, is focusing more on eradicating poverty and income inequality, but was criticized by some observers, including the New York League of Conservation Voters, for offering relatively little details in the plan.

On the transportation front, Mr. de Blasio’s ambitions will meet the harsh realities of an underfunded Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a sprawling system in need of extensive maintenance and possibly expansion. Mr. de Blasio has not said yet if the city will actually increase its annual contribution to the MTA, which has been stuck at about $100 million for three decades.

Mr. de Blasio admitted today that there “is a reckoning that has to happen in terms of where we’re going with the MTA.”

“In this plan, we do not provide all those answers, because we don’t have them all yet, but it’s something we’re going to be working on,” the mayor said. “As I said, you get this plan, you get the capital budget, but then there’s going to be a lot happening after the capital budget, including on the question of the MTA.”

A Pack of Queens Democrats Oppose New Congestion Pricing Plan

By Ross Barkan on 04/27/15 5:24pm

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. (Photo: Ross Barkan)

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and a host of fellow Democrats announced this afternoon they are opposing a new congestion pricing plan, pitting themselves against a slew of Manhattan elected officials, including the island’s borough president.

More than a dozen Queens lawmakers, encompassing members of the Assembly, Senate and City Council, said the pricing scheme, known as the “Move NY Fair Tolling Plan,” is unfair to Queens residents and does not guarantee the borough will see mass transit improvements. Under the plan, tolls would be placed on East River bridges connecting Manhattan and Queens and motorists entering Manhattan south of 60th Street would be charged. In turn, tolls would be lowered on other outer borough crossings.

But as critics have pointed out, there would be no guarantee the toll revenue would be redirected toward any particular transit upgrades–or even that it would be used to lower tolls elsewhere.

“It is fundamentally unfair to charge residents a fee to travel within one city. It is certainly unfair to the families who live in the transit desert of Queens as it would landlock our Borough,” the Queens Democrats said in a statement.

“The ideas in the proposal for mass transit improvements are great. But without any direct connection between the revenues generated from the proposed tolls to those very improvements, there is simply no guarantee that this proposal will actually yield anything tangible or amount to anything more than just that: an interesting idea,” they added.

In addition to State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblyman David Weprin, two lawmakers who have loudly opposed congestion pricing, the statement was jointly issued by Assembly members Jeffrion Aubry, Barbara Clark, Vivian Cook, Phillip Goldfeder, Ronald Kim, Michael Miller, Michael Simanowitz and Michele Titus; And State Senators Joseph Addabbo, Jr., Tony Avella, Leroy Comrie and Toby Stavisky; City Council members Karen Koslowitz, Rory Lancman, Daneek Miller, Paul Vallone and Ruben Wills.

Many of the elected officials represent more suburban portions of southeast and northeast Queens where subway access is nonexistent and many residents own automobiles. The Queens Democrats pushed back on a provision of Move NY that would slash tolls on other outer borough bridges, including some that connect Queens to the Bronx, arguing that it’s inherently unfair to levy “different charges for different residents of different boroughs.”

“We recognize it is critical that we find more stable transit funding sources other than from the driving and riding commuters’ pockets to fill deep budget gaps,” the Democrats said. “But we reject the notion that there is only one way to generate additional monies for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and our region’s infrastructure.”

How do you feel about the pricing evening?

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Thankfully this plan is as dead as the dodo.

And why is that?

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