Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bloomberg's Congestion Pricing Tax Runs Into Reality

Mayor Bloomberg wants to impose a congestion pricing tax on commuters who drive into Manhattan's central business district. I'm opposed to it because there simply isn't sufficient mass transit options, both for those who live in New Jersey and for those who live in New York City.

Well, it seems that the subways are already operating at maximum capacity and the nearest relief is still years away. This means that anyone who shifts from driving will have to take buses, which are subject to more delays due to traffic.

The relief would come in the form of the 7th Avenue Extension, Battery Park station, 2d Avenue Line, and automated subway trains on the L line (which have been opposed by the transit workers union because of job loss concerns).

Bloomberg's idea was to use the tax to fund more mass transit, but this is a chicken and egg situation. You can't get more mass transit without the money, but you can't get people to change their driving habits unless there are mass transit options that are feasible and deliverable. It simply isn't the case now.

That means that those commuters who might otherwise consider mass transit would be stuck paying the congestion pricing tax, those who take mass transit will see worse service because of overcrowding, and still others will chose to work and move elsewhere because the costs will simply override any other concerns.

Maybe the inability to find places for the people to use the system is all part of Bloomberg's plan? After all, if the system can't handle capacity, then people will drive in and pay the fee - meaning more revenues for the city. KA-CHING!

And we're finding out that the MTA is trying to backtrack from the claims that the system is at capacity, saying only that some lines are overcrowded and that other lines have excess capacity of one form or another (either space in the cars, or room for more trains to run in a given time frame). The problem is whether those lines correspond to where people are likely to be driven from their cars to the subways?

If you rely on a numbered line through Manhattan, you're out of luck - those are at or above capacity and there's no room for additional capacity until the 2d Avenue line is fully built. The lettered lines are in slightly better shape.

Has Bloomberg leaned on the MTA to revise its previously pessimistic statements so as to grease the wheels of this new regressive tax on commuters?

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