The NY Times editorial quoted below spells out the current stalemate on congestion pricing and consequences of NOT passing this much-needed piece of legislation (including a subway fare hike as high as 50%). I am thoroughly embarassed by the Democratic Party “leadership” that could cost our city $500 million in federal funds earmarked for public transit improvements because they are pandering to parking garage owners and the small minority of New Yorkers who commute by car. If you feel the same way, now is the time to let them know.
June 25, 2007
Congestion Pricing Deadline
New Yorkers and anyone else who rides public transportation in and around the city should mark July 16 on their calendars. By that date, if state lawmakers do their jobs, they will have paved the way to ensuring billions of dollars of new cash to maintain and expand mass transit. If not, the current $2 fare for a bus or subway ride can be expected to increase at least 20 percent and maybe as much as 50 percent. The choice is that stark, and riders, who will pay the price if legislators fail, will know exactly where to direct their pique.
New York is a candidate for as much as $500 million in federal money to help pay for Mayor Michael Bloombergâ€™s plan for congestion pricing, which would charge a fee to drivers on Manhattanâ€™s busiest streets. The federal Department of Transportation has said New York is unlikely to qualify if it misses the deadline to authorize a plan.
Washington correctly sees traffic gridlock as a drain on local economies, and relieving it as a worthy investment. Congestion pricing works. It cut tailpipe emissions and cleared clogged streets in London and Stockholm. Commuting times were pared down and business deliveries were faster. The revenues pumped up public transportation to handle the riders who gave up driving to work.
Mr. Bloombergâ€™s dilemma is that the cityâ€™s ridiculously limited home rule requires him to get Albanyâ€™s approval. He accepted that condition, pressing for congestion pricing in the Capitol. But the issue â€” and the pile of federal money â€” was left hanging last week as legislators raced to begin vacation.
Congestion pricing raises the hackles of some legislators from the city, especially those from Brooklyn and Queens, whose constituents do more driving. Their concerns should dissipate if the plan front-loads hundreds of millions of dollars to improve access to transit and add express bus lines and ferries to ease longer commutes â€” something that City Comptroller William Thompson proposes.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Joseph Bruno, the Senate majority leader, can redeem themselves by coming back for a special July session and allowing enough time to hammer out a congestion pricing agreement that is acceptable to Washington. They were tantalizingly on the verge of doing that when lawmakers took a powder.