Monday, March 24, 2008

The Lease

In light of the fact that New York City leases the tunnels, elevated lines, stations and tracks of the subway system to New York City Transit, and in light of the fact that that lease may be rescinded with a years' notice, I would suggest that specific capital improvements and improvements in operations and management, designated by the New York City Council, be made a part of the lease requirements; we citizens of New York City need not be held hostage by the MTA. The requirement that 100% of the funds generated by any congestion plan must be dedicated to system improvements could also be made part of the lease agreement. These provisions should be an integral part of any congestion pricing implementation; the Fed's offer of $354 million for express buses will not provide enough benefit to offset the harm that will be caused by congestion pricing in its present form.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Council Hearings on Congestion Mitigation

Tomorrow, Monday, March 24, 2008, the New York City Council will conduct an oversight hearings on the New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission's recently approved congestion pricing proposal.

The first session, beginning at 10AM, will feature "expert" testimony.

The second session, which begins at 6PM, invites comments from the public.

Please attend and show your support for congestion mitigation and transit improvements, but let the council know that the current plan is the wrong plan. The hearings will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

Tell Governor Patterson that this is the wrong plan!

Congestion pricing: it's the right solution, but this wrong model has big problems.

This is exceedingly difficult to write, as I fully support congestion pricing in theory, but the current plan is wrong for New York City, and wrong for New York State. Here, briefly, are some of the biggest problems:

• There is no "lockbox"; the MTA plans to dedicate only 15% of revenues to capital improvements

• The current plan penalizes outer-borough residents while PA, NJ commuters and
Manhattanites living within the congestion zone get a free pass

• Improvements to mass transit are not in place, and the planned improvements are inadequate

• The current plan doesn't address the lack of traffic enforcement, one of the leading causes of traffic congestion

• The current plan doesn't address New York City Transit's woefully well-documented and historic inefficiencies

• Manhattan isn't the only place in NYC with horrendous congestion; Bloomberg's plan will increase congestion in poor neighborhoods with high asthma rates

• The current plan doesn't offer incentives for hybrid vehicles

• Even the mayor admits that traffic will probably NOT be reduced by 6% with the current plan, yet a 6% reduction is required to obtain the Federal DOT grant of $354 million

We need vastly improved mass transit to make congestion pricing effective; Theodore Kheel's plan, while still not perfect, is a much better plan than Mike Bloomberg's, and it makes mass transit free. Please read some of my earlier posts; then, email your city council member, your state senator, Sheldon Silver ( and Governor David Patterson, and insist that they provide a better congestion plan that addresses all of these issues.