Wednesday, February 6, 2008
NYC CONGESTION PRICING PLAN APPROVED
NYC CONGESTION PRICING PLAN APPROVEDNY Times * January 31, 2008NEW YORK CITY -- A plan to thin Manhattan's perpetual throngs oftraffic by charging fees to drivers and increasing prices foron-street parking was approved 13-2 on Thursday afternoon by a statecommission appointed to review different proposals. The plan todecrease traffic in much of Manhattan, first proposed in a slightlydifferent form by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last April, would chargedrivers $8 to go below 60th Street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.The commission was appointed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the StateLegislature to review proposals to reduce traffic congestion by atleast 6.3 percent and recommend the best alternative by Jan. 31. Underthe law that created the commission, the plan recommended on Thursdaywill be reviewed by the NY City Council. If it wins approval from theCity Council and NYC Mayor Bloomberg, it will go before the Legislature.The Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, also recommendedimposing a $1 surcharge for Taxi, Black Car and Car Service tripsstarting or ending in the area and increased parking rates below 60thStreet.You can read the Commission recommendations by downloading the PDF, as of now no fees were added to Group Transportation Buses The congestion plan could face a tough time in Albany. At a meeting onTuesday between the commission's chairman, Mark V. Shaw, and membersof the Assembly, lawmakers expressed concerns including how the planwould affect people who commute to work by driving over the East Riverinto Manhattan. Assemblyman Rory I. Lancman, a Democrat of Queens,said more than 30 legislators present at the meeting criticized theplan, while one spoke in favor.The plan produced by the commission was generally the same as themayor's original plan with a few differences. The mayor wanted thepricing zone to begin at 86th street, instead of 60th, and theoriginal plan had fees for trips within the zone as well as for carsentering the area.The plan also calls for the money raised through fees, estimated at$491 million annually, to be dedicated to improvements in masstransit. The commission also recommended that the city makeadjustments to ease the impact that expected increases in parkingcongestion that could occur as commuters abandon their cars at thefringes of the congestion area. Commissioners also recommended thatstate legislators consider making changes to tax laws to assistlow-income drivers who could be disproportionately affected bycongestion pricing."Every aspect of the proposals were hashed out, were analyzed and werefound to be wanting," Mr. Lancman said.On the other hand, planning groups who have reviewed the plan haveexpressed nearly uniform approval."Congestion pricing will not solve all our transit problems, but it isthe most promising and innovative way of maintaining and expanding ourtransit system amidst state budget shortfalls and an upcomingrecession," Bob Yaro, president of Regional Plan Association, said ina statement.