Subway Congestion Fare: 50 Cents

Ok, so this proposal was announced last week, and…well…I needed a few days to ponder my reaction. No matter how hard I thought about it, all I was left with was: “WTF?”

Let’s discuss.

The New York State Assembly basically wants to 1) pick a fight and 2) ride on the “green” coat tails of Mayor Bloomberg. The Mayor announced his congestion pricing plan designed to charge an $8 fee to drive in midtown during peak times. It was met with great approval by New Yorkers, over 80% approval. So of course, the Assembly doesn’t want some great idea to be passed without them being involved, so of course the must tamper.

So, they throw out the idea of lowering the subway fare to 50 cents (from $2) during rush hours. [sigh]

Let’s talk about all the reasons why this might be the worst idea on the planet. First, it is going to do nothing to lower carbon emissions, which is the freaking point. Trying to lure people out of the cars by saving them a buck-fifty isn’t going to work. Drivers are just going to keep driving because it won’t cost them any more to drive. Sure, the might contemplate the savings by taking the subway, but let’s face it, there’s a reason that they like to drive in the first place. Saving them a little change isn’t going to inspire them to hit the rails.

On the flip side, a lot more people will ride the trains and buses for shorter trips. Right now, people walk if their destination isn’t worth the $2 to take the subway. Reducing the fare to 50 cents will encourage more people to take very short trips. The number of one stop riders will skyrocket. “For $2…ehh…I’ll just walk,” will be replaced by, “Hell, it’s only 50 cents…lets ride.”

Also, you’re banking on people flooding into the public transportation system that can’t handle the load as it is. As a whole, yeah, the system might be able to handle a sharp increase in traffic. However, certain lines are going to come to a grinding halt. Just to name a few, the 1, 2, and 3 line and the F line will flood well over capacity. They are already over crowded!

You may argue that the Mayor’s congestion pricing model is going to do the same thing, but you would be wrong. Yes, there will be some increase in usage of the public transportation system, but not an insane increase. Why? Because congestion pricing does not target New Yorkers.

Bloomberg was initially concerned that congestion pricing would have a huge financial impact on outer borough residents coming into Manhattan. However, it turns out that most outer borough peeps are smart, and already rely mostly on the subway to get into midtown. So, congestion pricing really hurt them much. Instead, congestion pricing impacts commercial traffic and people coming into the city from out of town. So, all the people that live out of town, but come in to work will be saddled with most of the fees. Sounds like a plan to me.

This island is home for us New Yorkers. We already pay a HUGE city tax to live here on top of our state and federal taxes. So it is about time that people from out of town pay a little bit into the kitty. Everyone wants to come work here, but doesn’t want it to cost them anything. No dice my friends. If you want to live in New Jersey and work in midtown, fine. But it’s going to cost you a few bucks to drive to work. Either pay it, or hop on the PATH train.

I’ve often thought that it was a little shady that we (New Yorkers) have to pay a city tax so that everyone else can come in to visit and have a good time. Sure, I know that the tourists and visitors bring in many sales tax dollars. I realize that, but still.

Also, it drives me nuts when politicians from Albany start to stick there noses into local issues like this. To them, the City is just a big political soapbox to stand on, from which they can get themselves on TV for 30 seconds. In all honesty, we are really don’t have any need for the state politicians. Major NYC decisions should be made by local representatives and residents. Period. Do we really need a state rep from somewhere way upstate making decisions about our subway fares? I think not.

6 thoughts on “Subway Congestion Fare: 50 Cents

  1. I have a few questions with congestion pricing.
    Does anyone think that the money collected from these “tolls” will be able to improve anything at all? What are they going to do? Build new roads? How is bad traffic an issue of not enough money. Don’t we havea 2.4 billion dollar surplus?

    The fact is there will still be 8.5 million people living in NYC. Charging them money to drive won’t make they go away. People don’t like sitting in traffic, if they are driving it’s because they probably have to.

    If you put toll booths on every avenue at 86th Street won’t that cause a bigger traffic jam of people on line to pay tolls?


  2. The idea of a 50 cent fare has to be the dumbest idea ever! While I’m all for decreasing the fare or keeping it as is, this is not the way to go about it.

    The Lexington Avenue corridor would get destroyed if such an idea ever came to pass. The corridor is easily the busiest in the system. Many times it is busting at the seams & this would just blow it open.

    I don’t know how I missed hearing about this. Thanks for posting it.


  3. Patrick –

    Few things…one, charging $8 bucks a car is going to generate billions of dollars in revenue which I **think** they were planning to reinvest in public transportation including an express bus lane system, the subway itself, and the second avenue line. I dont believe it is planning to be spent on roads really.

    As for New Yorkers, the recent study that Bloomberg did showed that *MOST* New Yorkers don’t drive their cars around the city itself that much. They mostly use them for out of town travel. So it shouldn’t impact us too much because we already rely mostly on public transit.

    As for toll booths, the plan is to have a camera/Easypass hybrid system. Basically, as you run around the city, your license plate will get photographed. Then, you will receive a bill in the mail for your toll. So there won’t be booths. Drivers with Easy Pass can simply link it to their current accounts. Also, let’s say you pay a $5 toll to cross a bridge into the city, you will then only have to pay $3 more dollars in Manhattan (for a grand total of $8), so you won’t be hit double.


  4. I’m very sceptical about the money they collect going back into the public transportation system. I’m not sure why they can’t use that 2.4 billion surplus for something.

    I need to drive a car into the city sometimes because of work. I carry lots of camera equipment. This “fee” will eat into my profit.

    If they use this camera/easypass hybrid system then I’ll just put a shield on my license plate when I’m going through the system and take it off a few blocks later.

    Sounds like they don’t have things figured out and therefore shouldn’t do this Congestion Fare.


  5. I think this congestion fare for drivers is an excellent idea. I also was upset that people were against the noise tax that he was proposing a few back. NYC is getting crowded, dirtier, and noisier than I remember as a child. ugh.


  6. .
    We all have to wonder what Bloomberg is really thinking of with this congestion pricing tax scheme. Maybe he mostly just wants a new tax. Just wrap it up in ‘concern for the environment’, and people can just demonize those who oppose it.

    If he cares so much about traffic jams, congestion and air pollution, why does he let Park Avenue be blocked off? Why doesn’t he do anything about that?

    Pershing Square Restaurant blocks Park Avenue going South at 42nd St. for about 12 hours a day/5 months of the year! This Causes Massive Congestion & Air Pollution!

    But apparently it does not bother NYC’s Nanny-in-Chief Mike “Congestion Pricing Tax” Bloomberg? Check out the map!

    Check it out!


    Little Blue PD


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