Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Why the Fat Lady Sang

Assembly Democrats
Kill Proposal to Toll
4 East River Bridges
$8 Fee For B & Ts


Now that congestion pricing has bitten the dust, we offer our comments on what happened in Albany and the City Council. We will do it by sixteen bullet points, both for clarity and to avoid subjecting you to transitional prose

We specifically invite you, our readers, to write bullet points of your own. Not a treatise, such as the ones we wrote on March 31 and April 5, but short, pithy observations, up to 100 words, that we will share with you in a column of responses on our blog. Even though the current plan is dead, the traffic problem is very much alive, and new ways to attack it will be needed to keep congested areas from choking.

The leitmotif of this article, repeated in a number of paragraphs, is that not enough people were convinced of the plan's merit, and too many people did not want to pay the $8. Here are our observations:
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26 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:33 PM

    Palestine is not a place.

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  2. Rey Olsen3:34 PM

    Congestion in Manhattan is not the problem; it is the symptom of the problem which is overbuilding. There is a direct correlation between increased square footage under roof and congestion.

    Rebuilding the World Trade Center will only make present congestion worse.

    The answer is rezone the FAR downwards in Manhattan and upwards in the outer boroughs. If people can walk to work, congestion will be minimized.

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  3. Anonymous4:41 PM

    If our Mayor really cares about congestion, why is he encouraging the building of ever more gigantic residential towers in Manhattan? Does he think those residents are not going to have cars? Did he imagine that a West Side stadium would alleviate traffic uptown? Did he believe a NYC Olympics would foster easier travel? And what of the new Yankee Stadium? How will that alleviate congestion in the Bronx? The same goes for the mini-malls and Walmarts.

    Oh, yes, I forgot, it's good for air quality and climate change. But where are the environmental impact studies to support this conclusion?
    Residential heating and air conditioning also contribute to pollution and climate change. So let's plant some trees --in Manhattan, of course. Perhaps that will offset the loss of trees cut down en mass for stadiums and malls. (Well, I don't really think so, do you?)

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  4. Marge KOlb4:42 PM

    I live in Queens and I take the subway to Manhattan. I am so tired of crossing Queens Boulevard and seeing endless streams of cars with one person in them headed for the 59th Street Bridge. If we want to combat not only traffic, but global warmning, government needs to take broad measures to reduce the numbers of cars on the road. How about a toll on the bridge and an $8 fee to enter the city limits from the 'burbs?

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  5. Ach du leiber!
    New York is one of the biggest cities in the world. Of course its crowded.
    You want uncongested roads go to Bismark.
    As someone who has for the last 25 years regularly driven a commercial box truck through Manhattan, I can tell you that mid-town traffic is better than it used to be.
    The "through streets" plan has helped as well as commercial parking meters.
    Congestion Taxing was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to part the middle and working class of the outer boroughs from whatever little pocket change they may had left.
    I can only imagine that someday the people of this city will look back at this fiasco and marvel that an aristocratic, billionaire mayor who had just weeks before turned down a tax on his fellow NYC millionaires that could have at least given the appearance of a semblance of even handedness, came close to getting his spoiled brat way.
    What continues to amazes me is that there were so many easier, simpler, more effective and most of all, fairer solutions to fund mass transit and reduce traffic in NYC that Bloomberg just choose to ignore purely to benefit his own political aggrandizement.
    What was he thinking? Clearly he wasn't.
    Say, I hear they need some new tolls in Bermuda.

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  6. Ach du leiber!
    New York is one of the biggest cities in the world. Of course its crowded.
    You want uncongested roads go to Bismark.
    As someone who has for the last 25 years regularly driven a commercial box truck through Manhattan, I can tell you that mid-town traffic is better than it used to be.
    The "through streets" plan has helped as well as commercial parking meters.
    Congestion Taxing was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to part the middle and working class of the outer boroughs from whatever little pocket change they may had left.
    I can only imagine that someday the people of this city will look back at this fiasco and marvel that an aristocratic, billionaire mayor who had just weeks before turned down a tax on his fellow NYC millionaires that could have at least given the appearance of a semblance of even handedness, came close to getting his spoiled brat way.
    What continues to amazes me is that there were so many easier, simpler, more effective and most of all, fairer solutions to fund mass transit and reduce traffic in NYC that Bloomberg just choose to ignore purely to benefit his own political aggrandizement.
    What was he thinking? Clearly he wasn't.
    Say, I hear they need some new tolls in Bermuda.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Star, why are you saying those who must enter Manhattan by bridge or tunnel are categorically the very same population as would be effected by the proposed (scrapped) $8 toll?

    Isn't it more correct to say only those B&T's who insist on making that trip in their own cars and trucks would have to pay the toll? This is a distinction with a difference. Versailles.

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  8. Anonymous11:22 PM

    The whole flop by the Assembly makes me mad. I would like to see them show their chicken feathers some time and be stuck voting on issues like congestion pricing. NYC lost so much when they repealed the commuter tax and we'll keep paying for the free rides while subway fare keep rising. Thankfully, Mayor Mike supports bike ways so I get some free riding in with a little less danger. Say hello to dirty air for a little longer. But they say good ideas sometimes do get through but not right away.

    --Petals

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  9. Anonymous12:29 AM

    At Least Vote

    While I happen to be for congestion pricing and was behind Mayor Bloomberg's proposal, the only thing I expect is a vote either way.

    How can we rate our elected officials when we don't know where they stand.

    The big tragedy here was the fact that we will never know how they voted. That is why we elect our officials...to make decisions. And THAT is what the failure is.

    I say fire them all and end the gridlock starting with Sheldon Silver.

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  10. Barry Popik11:23 AM

    For what it's worth, although I am against higher taxes, I was for the congestion pricing tax. In addition to the tax revenue, the federal government was kicking in $354 million. Now, that money is lost.
    ...
    It's entirely reasonable that the people who drive in to NYC and use the roads and bridges also pay for those roads and bridges. "Free" bridges aren't free. The congestion fee would or should have worked like the lost commuter tax. This isn't a tax to raise revenue, like a "millionaire's tax." It's a transportation tax to benefit transportation.
    ...
    In reality, the money would have gone to the MTA--an agency no one trusts. Even WITH the congestion fees, the MTA's capital plan is woefully underfunded. Now, without the tax revenue, there is simply no way the MTA can survive.
    ...
    Governor David Paterson says that he's going to appoint an MTA commission now to study the problems. Great! Another commission! Another study!
    ...
    Paterson says to cut him some slack on the MTA and on this year's budget. Frankly, I don't know why anyone would do that. Paterson has been in Albany for quite some time. He was elected along with Spitzer to change things on Day One. And now he's saying that Day One is next year? Now he's saying that Spitzer's budget stinks? Whose fault is that?
    ...
    For New Yorkers, it's like the baseball/basketball manager (think NY Knicks or NY Mets, so bad for so long) has been fired for a poor record, and then the previous administration is blamed and a new one comes in, and then there's a few more years of no progress, and then the manager/administration is fired again, and it's the same old sad song.
    ...
    Paterson knows the problems--everyone does. This year, again, it gets WORSE.
    ...
    Barry Popik
    Austin, Texas

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  11. The artricle hits on many good points buyt there are a few others
    1 There was a faint chance of compromise at the end but the city didn't yield
    2 The education program didn't convince the public It was too sophisticated and not understandable
    3 The known opponents outside the city were not wooed and their positions were known from Day one and ignored
    4 The city has the power to charge people who wish to park overnight in the streets and has never used it
    5 Motor vehicle fees for people who iive in the city could be raised and revenues gained

    A better sales job could have been done.

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  12. Busy Beaver11:24 AM

    Yes, that is the key. When something is presently free and has been a social and economic fabric of our city's life for generations why change now? It seems that Bloomberg
    looked like an elitist to many hard working and struggling middle class people by trying to implement what many consider a "tax" which disproportionately burdens the working class.

    Secondly, why trust an institution? Lee Sander is an honorable man and so is Mayor Mike. When they both leave their respective jobs who can we trust to do the right thing? The MTA has lied and cheated New Yorkers since the beginnings of the Moses era. Why suddenly would they change their stripes? Once a liar always a liar!

    From,

    Busy Beaver

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  13. RICHARD FARREN11:26 AM

    The plan is not dead. Like Lazarus, it can be revived. If a governor puts the plan into the budget and ties it into the 2nd Avenue Subway funding or into something else of perceived value, it would be hard to defeat the plan. The loss of Federal dollars can be made up by a borrowing against revenues generated by the plan. If Paterson is not willing to put it into the budget, then Bloomberg should run for governor in 2010. He may yet have the last word.

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  14. Bloomberg is right and Silver killed it. I personally do not care but Silver does have to much power. We should have had the West Side Stadium and some form of congestion pricing. When one man gets to much power it is not good for anyone. Look at what happened to others who held to much power. In his case he will be removed by election. Sooner is better.

    John

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  15. Versailles11:27 AM

    Star, why are you saying those who must enter Manhattan by bridge or tunnel are categorically the very same population as would be effected by the proposed (scrapped) $8 toll?

    Isn't it more correct to say only those B&T's who insist on making that trip in their own cars and trucks would have to pay the toll? This is a distinction with a difference.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Vizier11:27 AM

    Of course this is anonymous. I'm not allowed to have opinions.

    In my mind, the most egregious part of the Legislature's action was that BOTH leaders decided to shield their members' position from public scrutiny. Only through recorded votes can we, the public, hold our representatives accountable. Whether this congestion plan was good, or not, our elected officials owe it to us to take public, recorded positions.

    That being said, I think it is also shameful for legislators to blame Mayor Bloomberg for this. I admit that I didn't read the Commission report, but that process was the proper venue to modify the plan. To say that Mayor Bloomberg didn't fly up to Albany to distribute goodies is disingenuous, to say the least.

    All the best.

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  17. Craig M. Cohen11:28 AM

    What about the F? We always used the letters BTF. – Ferry.

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  18. ARTHUR KREMER11:32 AM

    The artricle hits on many good points buyt there are a few others
    1 There was a faint chance of compromise at the end but the city didn't yield
    2 The education program didn't convince the public It was too sophisticated and not understandable
    3 The known opponents outside the city were not wooed and their positions were known from Day one and ignored
    4 The city has the power to charge people who wish to park overnight in the streets and has never used it
    5 Motor vehicle fees for people who iive in the city could be raised and revenues gained

    ReplyDelete
  19. Isn't there a high chance that people living within the congestion zone buy new cars since the roads are less congested now? That's what happened in London

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  20. Bernie1:29 PM

    GOOD!

    One for the people!

    Bernie

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  21. Jack Lusk1:29 PM

    Excellent, as usual. I did think that the Times wanted to send the Mayor a message by spanking Jeanette Sadik Kahn, but that you were right the Bill did not fail because of personal reasons.

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  22. Ed Lewis1:30 PM

    I don’t know from Blogs, but, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity

    for NYC to lead the nation on an important issue. It is an American

    tragedy that the initiative failed. As mayor Bloomberg has said publicly

    on dozens of occasions, “the people elected their representative to lead,

    not follow opinion poles”. (or some such) I am truly disheartened and

    disappointed that the political will to do right by almost every measure, failed.



    Ed Lewis

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  23. Bob Cohen1:30 PM

    Henry:The fact that the Mayor gave a vast sum to the Republicans in New York State may have had an effect on Shelly Silvers actions in this matter. It may have been payback time to the Mayor. Bob

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  24. Anonymous1:30 PM

    The MTA...why trust them? The track record for lies and news distortions are profound indeed!

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  25. Nick Penkovsky1:32 PM

    Commissioner:

    Just some thoughts from a native who still lives here:

    1-Traffic is good; congestion is bad.
    2- The Mayor's proposal attacked traffic; not congestion.
    3- One reason congestion occurs is because vehicle and traffic laws are not enforced. Lack of enforcement of the V&T laws is the prevailing mode in Manhattan and particularly as pertains to pedestrians.
    4- Each pedestrian that walks out into the traffic lane at the corner cuts off one lane of traffic for blocks as vehicles brake and cut into an adjacent lane. On major avenues five lanes can become three lanes.
    5- Look at the conditions of the roadways. Manhattan is unique in that its utility lines are all underground. Enforce current laws and regulations pertaining to the excavation of roadways and demand and enforce the laws and regulations that require restoration in good working condition.
    6- Look at alternative means of keeping pedestrians from crossing in front of crossing vehicles.
    a- Mayor Giuliani created mid-block crosswalks and barriers to crossing at corners.
    b- Re-consider the Barnes 4 way walk system so all pedestrians can cross while vehicles wait at a red light.
    c- Enforce cross at the green. We all claim to live in the greatest city in the world; take the don't walk light as an opportunity to look around you and absorb the sights and sounds of our town.
    7- Consider the use of eminent domain to create truck waiting areas. Presently in too many areas trucks block the roadways while waiting to unload or while actually unloading. The city could charge a reasonable "parking" fee for these waiting areas. Think of the possibility of carriers knowing in advance their costs and how they can avoid the aggravation of a parking ticket. This is a "nice" revenue exchange and it is doubtful the city would loose anything in terms of revenue, the air might be cleaner and the aggravation level lower.
    8- Face up to the fact that when you build on every available piece of ground, the increase of people will necessarily result in more vehicles whether it is business or commercial. Many individuals have food delivered by truck today and vehicle traffic will increase to feed and clothe the populace.
    9- Improve mass transit first. Today at rush hour it can take thirty minutes on a cross town bus from York Avenue to Fifth Avenue. Tandem buses that are used take longer to fill and the time is spent loading and unloading not moving- an unnecessary waste of fuel. Stop using outdated methods of mass transit.
    10- Create a policy in which governments will be required to buy a significant number of truly fuel efficient hybrid vehicles as they replace worn out vehicles. Government has the clout to order the quantity of vehicles that will lower prices and create jobs in technology and manufacturing, maybe even here in this state or country. The City should not be forcing small business (see the taxi industry) to take the lead here, instead, government should be out front in conserving fuel and the atmosphere with its pocketbook and large needs.
    11- Eliminate the use of government vehicle placards to only necessary vehicles.
    12- Enter into a contract for city parking the same as government does for hotels and other necessary government business. Save the curbs for deliveries not "official" parking.
    13- Create taxi zones at the curbs of certain intersections where passengers can be picked up and dropped off- get these necessary stopping vehicles out of the traffic lanes.
    14- Study the traffic patterns and take remedial measures. The congestion pricing plan was no different than taking a bazooka to go quail hunting. You make your point about traffic and the environment but you gain nothing. If the plan was really going to cut down on vehicles entering the zone, then how, in all reality, could the plan raise money for mass transit?
    15- Finally approach this problem as thinkers, businesses and leaders approach other problems: Study and be critical, creative and maybe, correct, the first time.

    Best Regards

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  26. Anonymous3:46 PM

    Here is my bullet for the blog: Congestion pricing has won popular support in other cities, but only after two conditions have been fulfilled: 1)significant improvements in mass transit that benefit most commuters; and 2) reduction in traffic that results in a better quality of life (cleaner air, less congestion, reduced costs, faster buses), not just within the zone, but across the region. We need to demonstrate both to win approval of congestion pricing in New York. The majority of City Council Members approved congestion pricing because the Council Speaker and Mayor's Office worked with DOT and the MTA to insure that every district got some transit improvements from the revenues that would be raised. This was not political pork, but responsiveness from agencies that historically have not paid much attention to Council Member priorities. Assembly members did not get the same treatment. With respect to the second condition, for all but transportation geeks, projected benefits of congestion pricing were not believeable without a test run. Advocates knew that congestion pricing should be structured as a pilot project that would have to be re-authorized by legislative bodies after a trial period. This idea was not included in the proposed legislation. It was sacrificed to the competing need to create a permanent funding stream for the current MTA capital program -- a program that many in the Assembly viewed as "Manhattan-centric." Without a trial period and a community-based transit improvement program, there was no way to prove that the communities whose residents are paying the charge would share in the benefits of congestion pricing. We can still get this right!

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