Congestion Pricing Moves Forward to Albany

New York City Council has officially backed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, which now moves forward to Albany for approval.

Just to recap, the plan would charge drivers an $8.00 fee for driving below 60th Street from 6am – 6pm. There are provisions in the plan which allow for credits when paying a toll to enter the city. So if you paid $6.00 to cross a bridge on the way into the city, for example, you would only owe an additional $2.00 that day.

However, if you were parked below 60th Street or otherwise already in the city and drove below 60th Street, you would be charged the full $8.00.

So what the hell does this have to do with the subway?

Well, the city stands to receive $354 million in federal funding to help launch the congestion pricing plan. This money would pay for the fee collection infrastructure, as well as fund initial mass transit improvements.

The goal with the congestion pricing plan is to encourage people to leave their cars at home more often, and rely on mass transit. Of course, this means that the transit system would need to increase service, and increase reliability. So much of the federal funding would go towards these initiatives…at least so they say.

So now the plan heads to Albany for state approval. The State Legislature is in the middle of finishing the budget, however the plan deadline is quickly approaching.

Congestion pricing needs to be approved by April 7th in order to obtain the federal funding.

Way back in July, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno ironed out a deal with Spitzer to get the plan passed.  Let’s hope that still stands.

Paterson Backs Congestion Pricing

There may be hope after all!

Gov. David Paterson announced his support of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan for NYC.

“Congestion pricing addresses two urgent concerns of the residents of new York City and its suburbs: The Need to reduce congestion on our streets and roads, and thereby reduce pollution, and the need to raise significant revenue for mass transit improvement,” Paterson said.” [Daily News]

Of course, it eventually turned into a bit of a political stroke job when Bloomberg (and other pols in support of congestion pricing) started saying things like “…Paterson has shown true leadership ability…” etc.

“Congestion Pricing addresses two urgent concerns of the residents of New York City and its suburbs: the need to reduce congestion on our streets and roads, and thereby reduce pollution and global warming; and the need to raise significant revenue for mass transit improvements. We expect that revenue from the Congestion Pricing plan will support more than $4.5 billion in needed capital improvements for mass transit and meaningfully reduce traffic into the Central Business District of Manhattan. Before the constructive process of deliberation proceeds in both the City Council and the State Legislature, transparency requires that the public fully see what the system envisioned by the Commission will entail. While Commission Report highlighted other issues which need to be resolved, introducing this bill allows the City Council and Legislature to examine the details of the proposal and make an informed judgment on the Congestion Pricing program.” – David Paterson

So it seems positive thus far. As long as everyone keeps their eyes on the ball, perhaps this wild idea stands a chance. I must say, the more times they can say the words “$____ for transit improvements…” on the record, the better. Then there will be less room for them to wiggle out of it once the city gets the federal funding.

The Latest On Congestion Pricing in NYC

So this spring is going to be hot for more reasons than one.  In this case, it will be over congestion pricing.

Those that drive around the middle of Manhattan are pissed.  Those that don’t drive could care less.  So it will likely be those that drive that end up killing the plan.

In any event, the plan has already been slightly modified to shrink the zone where the $8.00 toll would be charged.

Now, the talks shift to adding public transportation alternatives.  I guess not really adding, just increasing.

But there will be 12 new bus routes in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx; increased service on 48 bus routes in Staten Island, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx; 309 new buses; increase of service on the 1, E and F trains; and longer trains on the C line. [WCBS-TV]

So it will be nice to have more trains in service on many of the lines.  Hopefully “increased” service means more than just one extra train.