Congestion Legislation Emerges
March 19th, 2008

The Daily Politics is reporting that congestion pricing legislation has emerged in Albany, though members of the City Council have yet to get their hands on it.

Though both the State Legislature and the City Council must approve a congestion pricing plan, the council must approve its home rule message first — so the issue can be taken up in Albany. (The home rule message is standard and done whenever the state decides an issue that treads on the city’s turf.)

The council just released the following (a reference to any legislation is noticeably absent):

CITY HALL On Monday, March 24th, the Councils Committee on State and Federal Legislation will hold an oversight hearing to discuss the recommendations made by the New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission. The commission, which released its final report on January 31st, was asked to analyze the costs and benefits of various plans to reduce traffic congestion in New York City and to formulate a final set of recommendations for the actions the city should take. The hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m. In order to allow for more public participation, an additional evening session will begin at 6:00 p.m.

As it stands, traffic congestion, especially in Manhattan, is costing New Yorkers billions of dollars a year, not to mention the damage that it does to our environment, said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. New York City is already bursting at the seams, and if we are going to be able to accommodate the million more people that are expected to live here by 2030, we need to tackle this issue head on. The congestion pricing plan put forward by the commission offers us a unique opportunity to reduce gridlock in Manhattan and create substantial new source of revenue for mass transit in all five boroughs. I thank all of the members of the commission for their hard work on this issue, and I look forward to working with each of them to find the best solution for New York City.

Traffic congestion is an issue of vital importance to the future of New York City, said Council Member Maria Baez, Chair of the State and Federal Legislation Committee. As chair of the committee, I look forward to holding this hearing in order to afford individuals the opportunity to express their support or opposition in regard to the Congestion Pilot Program.

The Traffic Mitigation Commission was convened last July in response to Mayor Bloombergs congestion pricing plan. Since then, the commission has held numerous public hearings and has heard testimony from experts, advocates and the public, all of which has been used to inform the commissions final report.

By on March 19, 2008, 3:20 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Gotham City,Health,Law,Transportation | 4 Comments »

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4 Responses to “Congestion Legislation Emerges”

  1. Vespa Chick Says:
    March 20th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    The MTA’s paws are all over this legislation. The money, from collection to deductions for administration and adjudicating fines ($65 btw) is always the property of the MTA instead of being transferred from the city to the MTA. So they even get the interest on the float. Their paw prints are evident in that the legislation is designed to maximize income rather than minimize emissions (the stated goal of congestion pricing, as written in the legislation) or congestion. While congestion pricing elsewhere has complete exemptions for motorcycles and alternative fuel vehicles, this legislation treats motorcycles as a regular “motor vehicle” and therefore motorcycle riders have to pay the full congestion fee. Instead of an exemption for alternative fuel vehicles, the fee is cut in half. From what I read, that would include zero emission vehicles. For businesses, any vehicle over 7,000 lbs Gross Weight gets charged the truck rate (at MTA crossings, this is currently double toll for regular two axle ((one in front, one in back)) vehicles), and additional per axle toll for more than two axles equal to the regular toll. So the congestion pricing on a regular 250 series (three quarter ton) and 350 series (one ton) used for business regardless of business size, would be at the much higher truck rate if the GW is higher than 7000 lb (some 250’s, all 350’s, many pickups, most suburbans, some other suvs, regardless of the fact that the suvs are often used during snow conditions to keep businesses running by enabling the small business owner to travel to open their place of business). Even though it exists outside the US where congestion pricing exists, there is no exemption whatsoever for private vehicles with disabled permits. There is no provision for vehicles converted from diesel to biodiesel by the vehicle owner, or other alternative fuel conversions made by the owner.

  2. Vespa Chick Says:
    March 20th, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Also, it appears that pickup truck owners with passenger plates (remember the lobbying required to get passenger plates on pickups without the “hardtop” camper shell?) will be charged as a commercial vehicle, with a much higher fee for pickups over 7000 lbs.

    As for the 7000 lb threshold (which should really be the 10,000 lb federal limit for the difference between “truck” and “passenger vehicle” as the feds use it for emissions and equipment requirements), this means that van and pickup owners of 350 series vans and pickups and one ton (and possibly some 3/4 ton) suburbans will be regarded as (and charged double or more) trucks, while at the same time much larger panel vans, step vans, commercial vans with rear cargo boxes that are carefully designed to just skirt the 7000 lb GW will get away with paying the congestion charge at the passenger vehicle rate. That includes all the step vans used by potato chip vendors, cigarette company vendors, many overnight shipping vans, Wonder Bread vendors, other sliced bread vendors, and many other companies with large fleets.

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