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Congestion Pricing
December 8th, 2006

This is the week, for some reason, where traffic was front and center and especially one strategy for addressing traffic congestion, congestion pricing, the practice of charging vehicles for driving into a traffic-clogged part of town during peak periods. It is one of the strategies that has been successfully deployed in London, where traffic has decreased 17 percent.

This week saw two separate reports on traffic and congestion pricing — one of which, from the Partnership for New York City, says that traffic congestion costs $13 billion a year in lost productivity a column by Gotham Gazettes land use topic page writer Tom Angotti, and a public forum.

It has now received some editorial support, more or less:
“While the idea is politically dead on arrival, a serious study would shed light on the value of congestion pricing here, writes the Daily News (second editorial). Would benefits of speedier traffic outweigh the pain of hammering thousands of drivers, many of whom lack viable public transit, for, say, $75 a week? We’re skeptical, very skeptical. But let’s have a look

An echo in an editorial in Newsday: Even though “Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not ready to push for congestion pricing,” he “should quickly apply for federal funding to study what can be done and how it might work in practice.”

Update: The New York Times has now weighed in as well: “The discussion of how New York might implement a pricing plan is less important right now than keeping it on the table as an option.”

By on December 8, 2006, 7:27 am
In category: Gotham City,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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3 Responses to “Congestion Pricing”

  1. Larry Littlefield Says:
    December 11th, 2006 at 8:25 am

    The politics of the issue are this.

    Congestion pricing will create three sets of winners: those who live in Manhattan, those who travel to Manhattan and do not drive, and those who drive to Manhattan and would be willing to pay for less congestion.

    There would be two losers.

    The first is the parking garages, because the current city policy is to limit driving to Manhattan by restricting the supply of parking, rather than free access to the street grid, allowing existing parking facilties to raise rates.

    The second is those who drive to Manhattan and would not be willing to pay the charge. These are people who aren’t paying for the city’s current policy — paying for parking lots and garages — generally because they have permits. A prior Bruce Schaller report identified who those people are — the political and politically connected class, a group with their own sub-culture which does NOT involve mass transit.

    Perhaps if union leaders, top bureaucrats, political appointees, legislators and city council members could be exempted, congestion pricing could get done.

    One further point — there are some people who live within the city but outside walking distance from the subway. Bus to subway makes a long ride, but generally, such people have cars. The MTA hasn’t thought much about park-and-ride. Perhaps the approval and funding or park-and-ride garages could address this issue.

  2. Glenn Says:
    December 11th, 2006 at 10:18 am

    Politically, it would make sense to start congestion pricing at the 60th Street stripline so it doesn’t affect those who currently object in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island and so congestion pricing doesn’t get confused with “bridge tolls”. Put a $4-10 charge on cars coming going south of 60th street in the morning and another charge going back out north in the afternoon and evening.

    Manhattan and the Bronx suffer the worst of the brunt of traffic coming from Westchester/Rockland, Connecticut and Northern New Jersey and therefore have the most to gain. And then once they see the benefits of this plan, the East River crossings can be added later.

  3. David Moog Says:
    December 13th, 2006 at 11:30 am

    All this talk and the answer is very simple. Rush hour tolls on the East River and Harlem River Bridges with high speen EZ pass lanes. Only allow those with EZ pass to use the formerly free bridges. The surplus could go into funding new subway and light rail lines in Queens and Staten Island that presently is underserved by mass transit.

    They should also lower the tolls for trucks to be the same as those for cars so as not to hinder business and impose a unduly high shipping fee for New York City residents.

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