Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Congestion Pricing Makes Yet Another Attempt At Comeback To Fill MTA Coffers

Congestion pricing is the plan that doesn't seem to ever want to die. Efforts to resurrect the proposal to toll drivers heading into a defined area of Manhattan are taking on new life because of MTA shortfalls and a lack of state funding.
City officials have resurrected a plan to charge drivers to enter Manhattan on weekdays, this time saying they need the extra cash to help shore up MTA service cuts, according to reports.

Proponents of the plan, which would reportedly charge drivers $10 each to enter Lower Manhattan on weekdays, say it would provide revenue to restore some of last year's MTA service cuts and could stop an expected fare increase as well as reduce the payroll tax of businesses outside of the five boroughs, the New York Daily News reported.

Although Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2008 proposal to levy an $8 fare for drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street was rejected by the State Assembly, the new proposal already has a broad base of support.

"The MTA needs a sustainable funding source," Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents parts of Lower Manhattan, told the News.
The problems with the new plan are the same as the old one - commuters will simply find ways to drive close to their destination and then add to the congestion of those areas - overburdening stations and communities that are ill equipped to handle the excess traffic. Businesses may simply relocate outside of the affected areas to avoid the added expenses and customers may simply choose to make purchases elsewhere rather than incur the added expenses. Those that remain will carry a heavier burden and the revenues generated will likely fall short of the projections - an all too common occurrence these days.

While the MTA's efforts to create a toll-less Henry Hudson Bridge appears to be the model on which tolls might be imposed on bridges and roads leading into the business district, it remains to be seen whether the MTA will work the kinks out of that program. Moreover, it would take significant capital costs to implement and maintain the tolling system that would reduce the overall amount of money that the MTA could devote to its bridges, tunnels, and mass transit systems.

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