So, after much deliberation and a commendable public input process, the Mayor's Congestion Mitigation Commission has approved its recommendation.
For more details on how the voting went and a break-down of the press coverage of the plan, visit www.streetsblog.org.
From here, the City Council must approve the plan when it goes before them on March 28. The City Council must vote to approve the "Implementation Plan," send a home rule message to the state legislature. A home rule message is a request from a city or town council to the state legislature asking them to vote on legislation affecting only that town or city.
What do you think of the plan? Will it get approved by the council? But more importantly, will it actually cut congestion in Manhattan?
After a series of recent public forms and lengthy study of the plan, the Mayor's commission on congestion pricing will recommend today a plan that largely backs Mayor Bloomberg's original vision of the fee-based traffic idea, but does not include his proposed 86th Street boundary.
The recommendation would charge drivers entering Manhattan from above 60th Street $8 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Drivers traveling by car within the zone would be exempt from any fees, but a $1 taxi surcharge and higher parking rates would be enforced to decrease traffic below the northern boundary. The commission's recommendation must be approved by the state Legislature, the governor, and the City Council.
For more on the likely recommendations from today's NY Sun, click here.
Following its hearing in Manhattan earlier this week, the Traffic Mitigation Commission is holding its final hearing on congestion pricing in Brooklyn next Thursday before it issues its final recommendations on January 31. If you care about this issue (and we know many visitors to this website feel traffic congestion is an important urban livability issue) then you should go to:
Medgar Evers College
1650 Bedford Avenue at Crown Street
@ 6:00 p.m., on Thursday, January 24
If you plan to speak at the hearing, you must RSVP in advance. Click here to download the form. You can also e-mail written testimony if you'd like to testify but are unable to present.
An article in Tuesday's New York Times covering a new report from the city's Independent Budget Office suggests that most of the drivers who would be affected by the Mayor's controversial congestion-pricing proposal would be from outside the city, and have substantially higher incomes than in-city drivers. However, the report also suggests that while the plan would raise revenues from car-driving non-city residents it would potentially penalize city government workers who drive to work.
Government workers, according to the report, constitute nearly 20% of drivers, with police, fire and other emergency service drivers constituting nearly another fifth of the non-city residents potentially affected by the plan. This, says the Times article's author, Sewell Chan, does not bode well for the success of the proposal. Now, this blog, can see why emergency services should be exempt from a congestion-charge but why should general government office workers get special dispensation? They already get subsidized or free parking which promotes car use, should they also be exempt from a charge designed to cut pollution and congestion for all New Yorkers? Aren't they supposed to be working for the benefit of the city and its residents?
Moreover, if such "key workers" (fire, police, ambulance, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials etc) are so important to the city, and need to have access to their offices quickly, would it not make sense for the city government to institute some kind of key worker assistance program that offered them some sort of housing subsidy? This is done in London and many cities in the UK where swift access to places of work for such people has been identified as a priority, and key workers have their accommodation subsidized to enable them to purchase homes close to their place of work.
After all, if you exclude whole classes of people from the congestion-charge aren't you failing to reduce congestion as much as has been judged to be optimal? And, if those excluded drivers are still sitting in traffic, where is the improvement? Isn't the whole point of the congestion-charge proposal to make New York City more livable, more efficient and less polluted, instead of inconvenient for certain people, depending on their employer? read more...