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New York State Assembly Quashes Congestion Pricing Plan

by Kate Trainor on April 8, 2008

NY_NoCongestion New York State Assembly Quashes Congestion Pricing Plan
New York City’s proposed congestion pricing bill passed through the City Council with flying colors last week, only to be trounced by Democratic members of the State Assembly yesterday. The congestion pricing tariff, part of mayor Michael Bloomberg’s extensive plan to improve environmental conditions and ease traffic in NYC, would have charged vehicles $8 to travel south of 60th street in Manhattan during peak traffic hours. Similar plans have had noticeable positive impacts, as in London where the air quality has markedly improved.

Support for the congestion pricing bill was so weak in the democrat-controlled Assembly that a formal vote was deemed unnecessary. State Assembly minority leader, James N. Tedisco, said that all 42 Republican votes would have gone towards approving the bill.

“It takes true leadership and courage to embrace new concepts and ideas and to be willing to try something,” mayor Bloomberg said. “Unfortunately, both are lacking in the Assembly today. If that wasn’t shameful enough, it takes a special type of cowardice for elected officials to refuse to stand up and vote their conscience.”

Opponents of the bill viewed it as elitist – only those who could afford the $8 charge would be able to drive into Manhattan, and there were no assurances against future rate hikes on the mass transit systems. However, by adopting congestion pricing, New York City would have been eligible for $354 million in federal grants toward improving traffic flow and the mass transit systems.

In the wake of the bill’s demise, US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters has already proclaimed that the federal funds would be used to help other cities battle traffic.

Many of the organizations that backed the congestion pricing plan are not ready to admit defeat. They recognize that New York needs to make steps towards sustainability and away from the automobile if the city, and its citizens, are going to survive.

“The fundamental facts remain the same: New York City faces a transit, traffic and air pollution crisis that will only grow more severe with the addition of another one million people,” said Michael O’Loughlin, director of the Campaign for New York’s Future. “That is why 2:1 New Yorkers wanted congestion pricing for better transit.”

Said mayor Bloomberg, in a statement to the press:

Today is a sad day for New Yorkers and a sad day for New York City. Not only won’t we see the realization of a plan that would have cut traffic, spurred our economy, reduced pollution and improved public health, we will also lose out on nearly $500 million annually for mass transit improvements and $354 million in immediate federal funds.

The idea for congestion pricing didn’t start in our Administration and it won’t end today. The $354 million we would have received from Washington tomorrow will go to another city in another state. But the problems congestion pricing could have helped solve are only going to get worse. And too many people from more than 170 environmental, labor, public health and business organizations recognize the merits of congestion pricing and hopefully someday, we will have more leaders in the Legislature who recognize it too.

See also: Green is the New Black for New York Limos

Via the New York Times.

Photo via flickr by fabrisalvetti.

 

Related posts:

  1. New York City Council Approves Congestion Pricing
  2. Congestion Pricing Pays in London (and NYC?)
  3. London’s Congestion Pricing Cuts Emissions, Study Says
  4. London’s Congestion Pricing Cuts Emissions, Study Says
  5. Chicago Accepts Funds From Feds to Combat Congestion
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