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New York City Council Approves Congestion Pricing

by Joshua Liberles on April 1, 2008

NYC_CongestionPOST New York City Council Approves Congestion Pricing
Yesterday, the New York City Council voted to in favor of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to introduce congestion pricing on the clogged streets of Gotham. The measure passed in a 30-20 vote. Bloomberg spoke at a press conference after the vote.

From the New York Times:

At the City Hall news conference, the mayor called the vote “the result of a lengthy democratic process,” and declared, “The people of New York City have spoken.” Ms. Quinn said that of the 30 yes votes, 20 were from outside Manhattan — signaling support for the proposal in the other boroughs, where opponents have been focusing their organizing efforts.

If the State Legislature gives approval, the mayor said, the implementation of congestion pricing could begin by March 31, 2009. He urged the city to unite around the proposal, one of the most divisive ideas the mayor has pushed in his second and final term, which is scheduled in 21 months. “There will always be somebody who doesn’t like things, but they will be breathing cleaner air, they will be taking mass transit, and congestion will be less,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

…The congestion pricing plan, as approved by a 17-member state commission that voted at the end of January, would charge drivers with an E-ZPass $8 a day to enter Manhattan below 60th Street on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those drivers would also receive a credit for bridge or tunnel tolls they paid on the same day. Drivers without an E-ZPass would pay $9 and would not receive credit for tolls.

Still, it’s up to state legislators in Albany to pass the plan before it can be implemented. If Albany does approve the measure, the city would be eligible for $354 million in federal grants for improvements to existing mass transit.

A few dissenters from the outer boroughs expressed their anger at Bloomberg and the City Council, including Leroy G. Comrie Jr., a Councilman from Queens. Comrie expressed a distrust of the M.T.A. and empathy for Queens residents who would ride the subway “packed like sardines” – as is sitting in traffic were a better alternative.

The Port Authority made the point that many of those who commute into NYC by car come from far outside of the city, mainly New Jersey and Connecticut.

As a former New Yorker, I don’t see why anyone would even want to bring a car into the city. It’s a hassle, not a convenience, as it is most everywhere else. Parking is a pain, traffic is always at a standstill, and it’s easy (relative to most other places) to get around purely as a ped. As for commuters from the outer boroughs and neighboring communities (if you could label NJ and CT as such), there are myriad public transit options that are less expensive and less irritating than taking the car into Manhattan. The rich businessmen from Danbury are either going to have to bite the bullet and pay the congestion price, or ride the subway with the rest of us laypeople.

Photo via flickr by purpleooze.


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