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Thread: NYC Congestion Charge

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    Default NYC Congestion Charge

    Related to this thread. No current news, but i thought I would assemble some past articles on a pet topic.

    From MUG:

    Congestion Charge

    Originally featured on January 8, 2004

    Taking a page from London's Congestion Charge program, the Washington nonprofit Eno Transportation Foundation asked the tri-state's Regional Plan Association to look at how a congestion charge – that is, requiring drivers to pay a premium for access to Manhattan's central business area – might work. The plan was presented at a conference this past November. These are some of the main points:

    Why do we need it?
    At certain times of day, you can expect to cross Midtown at 3 mph, with avenues being only slightly faster. And it's only going to get worse. Since the 1920s these numbers have grown annually by an average of 8,000 vehicles per day. Over 800,000 motor vehicles now roll through the 8.5-square-mile central business area south of 60th Street every weekday. Only 22% pay to enter.

    Won't it slow things down getting into the city?
    While various forms of congestion pricing have been proposed for decades, one key part of the opposition has been the problems involved in the toll collection process. The development of
    E-Z Pass and other technologies have made the ability to collect cashless, seamless, and high-speed.

    How would it work?
    There are four possibilities detailed in the plan:
    1. Flat fees on the East River bridges.
    2. Variable time-of-day pricing on the ER bridges.
    3. London model: A pricing system at 60th Street for 13 daytime hours on weekdays with flat East River tolls during the same time period.
    4. Full Variable Pricing: variable time-of-day pricing at all entries, including the East River bridges, MTA crossings, and at 60th Street.

    How has it worked in London?
    The jury is still out, but thus far the consensus is that congestion pricing has decreased traffic and increased travel time through the central business district. (Other such programs are in use in Melbourne, Toronto, Singapore, among others.) The charge in London is about $8 US, and it is enforced through cameras at the 174 entry points, with the photographs of license plates matched against the pre-paid records. There are heavy fines for non-payment. As a result, traffic volumes are down by 16% and motor vehicle travel times have been substantially reduced.

    So what's in it for us?
    The primary purpose of congestion pricing is to relieve congestion, not raise revenue. (Even so, all scenarios would generate substantial revenues – about $700 million for each of the first three scenarios, and more than double that for Scenario 4.) With an added charge only on the East River bridges, it would reduce daily entries by over 40,000 vehicles. At the East River bridges traffic would drop by about 25%, likely leading to the virtual elimination of congestion at those crossings, relief on local streets at the approaches to these crossings in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, and less traffic on the BQE. Daily transit ridership would climb under all scenarios. So, good for easing congestion, good for the environment, good for the city's coffers.

    What about poorer drivers, taxis, and commercial vehicles?
    There are genuine issues of equity, though data suggests that Brooklyn and Queens residents who drive to work earn more than non-drivers. Recent studies have shown that tolls on East River bridges in New York would actually impact more affluent individuals and that 66% of those who use free bridges in New York had incomes higher than $50,000. Additionally, only a small proportion of Brooklyn and Queens residents use the East River crossings regularly – one in 35 Brooklynites and one in 44 Queens residents. Employer-supported programs can mitigate negative impacts on lower income workers employed at times when transit options are poor. The plan details ways to handle commercial vehicles and medallion taxis (in London, taxis are exempt from the charge; here, they might not be.)

    Though neither simple nor inexpensive to implement, MUG thinks congestion pricing is well worth serious additional study and public discussion. The issue of fairness to less affluent drivers is, to our mind, one that should be moved to the top of the list of considerations. Having said that, we'd like to see the mayor turn his attention from nanny laws to something that could well be a significant quality-of-life improvement.

    To learn more, you can read the full report or a summary of it

    The New York Times, April 20, 2003

    The Day the Traffic Disappeared


    When Queen Elizabeth opened the new City Hall in London last year, some observers compared the building, designed by the architect Norman Foster, to a giant eye. And that is exactly what it looks like -- a glassy postmodern eyeball on the south bank of the Thames, staring across the river at its staid Georgian and Victorian neighbors as if to say, ''Welcome to the 21st century.'' Atop the building is a semicircular penthouse called London's Living Room, walled with windows that offer a commanding view of the city below. The idea behind this room is to offer a place for Londoners to gather, if only through the medium of a television camera, for the kinds of serious, big-family sit-downs that go along with governing a sometimes dysfunctional city of more than seven million -- a city so decentralized, in fact, that until three years ago it never had an elected mayor.

    On an unusually bright morning earlier this year, that mayor, Ken Livingstone, strides into the room before a bank of cameras, and with an unusually pleased look on his dour face, announces a coup, one that has eluded dozens of large cities like New York, Los Angeles and Paris. He has not conquered crime or poverty, but he may very well have hobbled an urban enemy seemingly just as invincible: the car. Livingstone has just begun the world's most radical experiment in reclaiming the city from the tyranny of the automobile, a power struggle that cities have been losing in humiliating fashion for more than half a century. Since well before his election, he has been warning Londoners that far too many of them (about 250,000 a day) are trying to drive into far too small a place -- central London -- polluting the air, choking commerce, slowly strangling their own livelihood. To stop them, the mayor decided to draw a line, literally.

    The line formed a lopsided oval around eight square miles of the historic inner city. Almost anyone who drove across the line during business hours -- in fact, almost anyone who moved or even parked a car on the street within it after Feb. 17 -- instantly owed the city of London $:5 (about $8) a day for every day it happened. If a driver failed to pay, one of more than 700 vulturelike video cameras perched throughout the zone would capture his license plate number and relay it to a computer, leading to a huge fine. And if the driver declined to pay those fines? The mayor vowed, only half-jokingly, that the city would relentlessly track his car down, clamp it, tow it away and crush it -- ''with or without the driver inside.'' Few would be exempt, not even volunteer social workers, teachers, foreign diplomats or undercover police officers.

    The idea behind his assault on automotive freedom was neither new nor very hard to understand. If a finite resource is free, human beings tend to use it all up, regardless of the consequences. If it has a cost, they tend to use it more rationally. Livingstone, a far-left Socialist, won his mayoralty largely on the promise of applying this tough-love theory to London's streets. But in the weeks just before the "congestion charge" began, it sometimes seemed that he was the only one who believed it would work. The newspapers were full of derisive nicknames for it, like ''Ken-gestion'' and ''Carmaggedon.'' Samantha Bond, the actress who plays Miss Moneypenny in the most recent James Bond movies, became the sympathetic face of the opposition, presiding over a protest with hints of civil disobedience at the West End theater where -- somehow fittingly -- ''Les Miserables'' was being staged. Tony Blair's government, which had given London and other British cities permission to levy such traffic charges in the first place, carefully distanced itself from the plan. And the bookmaking firm William Hill, one of London's most able arbiters of public sentiment, began offering 4-to-1 odds that it would fail by the end of the year. (The odds that Livingstone would be out of office before the end of his term were put at 10 to 1.)

    On this sunny Tuesday morning, however, it appears that the mayor has beaten at least the first of those odds. The number of cars entering the cordon zone the day before, the first day of the charge, dropped by about 60,000, remarkable even in the context of a school holiday. One automobile group estimated that average speeds in central London had doubled, nothing less than a miracle in the world of road policy. Livingstone, addressing his public in a droopy suit, bright blue tie and a pair of sensible thick-soled walking shoes, declares it ''the best day we've had in traffic flow in living memory'' and reports that he has even taken a call from the government's transport minister, John Spellar, a Labor Party archenemy who had helped to expel Livingstone from the party three years earlier when he launched his renegade mayoral bid.

    Livingstone's eyes twinkle as he relates the conversation. ''He said, 'Clearly the devil looks after his own,' and we had a good laugh,'' the mayor says.

    When a reporter asks whether the mayor has truly considered the consequences of the scheme failing, especially with his re-election campaign only a year away, Livingstone's nasal Cockney voice, already as affectless as a door buzzer, drops to a full deadpan. ''I never consider my own future when making political decisions,'' he says. He pauses for effect. ''How can you be so cynical?''

    As television crews troop out to the balcony to shoot the light traffic wheeling around the Tower of London, a good laugh is had all around the living room.

    The exchange, however, goes straight to the heart of cities' tangled history with the automobile -- undoubtedly the most inefficient, and most aggressively defended, means ever conceived for transporting large numbers of people through crowded places. The idea of using a price tag to regulate driving into crowded places has been around for years, but its progress has been slowed by two problems, one big, the other gigantic. The first was simply technical: how would you charge for entry into entire cities or neighborhoods without putting tollbooths everywhere and causing more congestion? That obstacle has now been largely overcome with high-speed electronic tolls, sharpshooter cameras (originally developed for antiterrorism purposes in London) and even the development of satellite tracking of cars.

    The gigantic problem is political. Since at least the end of World War II, the battle between cars and cities, a battle over the shape of the city itself, has been an epic mismatch. An oversimplified chronology would read something like this: the car helps to create sprawl; sprawl siphons people and political power away from the hearts of cities; the car returns to attack the city, which was never designed to accommodate so many; the city is forced to transform itself, ceding sidewalks to streets, trolley tracks to traffic lanes, parks to parking lots, whole neighborhoods to expressways.

    In the United States, the critic Lewis Mumford foresaw a grim end to the whole process: ''a tomb of concrete roads and ramps covering the dead corpse of a city.'' While the effects have not been quite that dire yet, the imbalance remains tremendous. On a purely human level, it can be witnessed any weekday in Times Square, where armies of angry pedestrians crowd around S.U.V.'s pinioned in crosswalks, the drivers inside easily outnumbered 100 to 1.

    But those drivers and the people who profit from them in cities -- principally garage owners, automobile clubs and road builders -- have had tremendous political influence over the years. They have portrayed unfettered access to public tax-supported roads as something like a modern amendment to the rights of man. And while it may be in the long-term interests of drivers to pay for using some roads in order to make them passable again, to put that money into subsidizing more efficient conveyances like trains and buses, city leaders have long viewed administering that corrective as something close to electoral suicide. Even the most crusading anti-car mayors -- like John V. Lindsay in New York, who came within weeks of ordering a Midtown traffic ban in the early 1970's, and Edward I. Koch after him, who came almost as close to imposing tolls on the free East River bridges -- have ultimately backed down or lost their battles.

    Though it might seem like a relatively new phenomenon, saturation traffic has existed in many cities for decades, virtually unchanged. Depending on whom you believe, it is incredibly destructive, costing London alone over $300 million a year in lost productivity and revenue just because of congestion in the tiny central portion of the city. (One New York City study in the late 1990's found that traffic problems in Manhattan cost the city as much as $4 billion a year in lost productivity.)

    With its mazelike medieval streets, London was a city plagued with congestion long before the car. In his diaries, Samuel Pepys twice recorded being stuck in 17th-century horse-and-buggy jams. When the car came along, the original notion was that such age-old transportation problems could be solved if enough new roads were built to handle cities' needs, a strategy called ''predict and provide.'' But by the 1960's, only a half-century after the car came into common use, economists and traffic planners were starting to notice that new roads seemed only to create more traffic.

    By 1977, when the British punk band the Jam recorded ''London Traffic'' (''No one knows the answer/No one seems to care/Take a look at our city/Take the traffic elsewhere''), the average speed of a car in central London was 12 miles an hour, or a little faster than the top running speed of a domestic pig. At the turn of the millennium, more than two decades later, many Londoners could only look back on those congested years with nostalgia. The average speed had dropped to less than nine miles per hour for the first time in modern record-keeping, meaning that car travel through Britain's capital was generally as slow as by coach a century ago.

    ''We're addicted, really,'' Bev Ramsden, a veteran taxi driver and dispatcher, told me one wet weekday morning, inching down the A4 highway through the gray margins of Hammersmith, nowhere near the most congested part of the city. ''Like addicts, I think we're getting to the point where we're realizing how crazy this is. Someone's got to do something.''

    It will probably go down as one of the stranger chapters in the history of traffic policy that the man who finally did something is a former lefty radical (once known as Red Ken) applying conservative free-market ideas. In a way, of course, it all makes complete sense: the congestion charge is classic Robin Hood socialism, taking from the comfortable Londoner commuting by Bentley and giving to the commoner hanging from the strap of a packed double-decker bus. But don't misunderstand. While he is a crusader, Livingstone is also a famously foot-sure career politician as interested as any in re-election. Despite his quip for the television cameras, he did not launch his assault without making a lot of practical calculations about its effect on his future. That morning, in fact, waiting downstairs for him in a cavernous boardroom was a group of strategists who were highly paid to do just that. It was telling that most of these strategists were not from London at all but from a place with much worse traffic problems and a much more treacherous political climate for trying to solve them: New York City. (Average traffic speed: about seven miles per hour, no faster than a running possum.)

    Only a few months after his election in the summer of 2000, Livingstone began courting Robert R. Kiley, a former C.I.A. official, business leader and transit expert, who as head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York in the 1980's was credited with resurrecting the city's graffiti-scarred subway system, now considered one of the best in the world. Kiley, given the new title of London's transport commissioner, brought with him another former top New York transit official, Jay Walder, who had become an expert on road pricing at Harvard and in Singapore, where a smaller but much more costly congestion-charging system in place for more than 25 years has cut car ownership to 1 in 10 city residents.

    When Kiley arrived in London, most of the attention focused on his transit credentials and how he would use them to rescue the ailing London Underground, an effort in which he and Livingstone, fighting Blair's government, have been largely unsuccessful. But Kiley told me later that he was equally interested in coming to London because of Livingstone's determination to try to right the relationship between the city and the car. If it worked, Kiley knew, it would be seen as a model around the world, and especially back in New York, where more than 250,000 vehicles crowd into the 8.5-square-mile heart of Manhattan in three hours every morning, roughly the same number that enter the eight square miles of central London over the course of an entire workday.

    As the leader of a business alliance in the 1990's, Kiley advocated road pricing for Manhattan, but he received no support from Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose voting base in Queens and Staten Island practically lived in their cars. In many ways London was an interesting parallel, more like New York than any other American city in its atypical transportation landscape. In both cities, as packed as the roads can be, more than 80 percent of workers take some form of mass transit into the central city every weekday morning. In London, as in New York, some drivers are poor. But most tend to have money -- enough to generate political pressure to protect their choice. They are also affluent enough, Kiley points out, to be persuaded to spend a little money to save them something much more valuable: their time.

    ''We knew all along that the motorist advocates and writers for the newspapers and libertarians and people who are really locked into cars would be critical, but I think the majority of Londoners supported congestion-charging right up to opening day,'' Kiley said later in his office, with a poster of the Brooklyn Bridge behind his desk. ''Would I call it a popular measure? Probably not. But I think that Londoners have long since concluded that someone had to take this dragon on.''

    Sitting there that day, as the dragon was being cowed on the streets below, Kiley told me that he had spoken at length about fighting it with another very important potential St. George, one in some ways a lot like Livingstone -- a political outsider who takes the subway to work, who strongly supports the idea of road pricing and who views the prerogatives of driving from a much more jaundiced 21st-century perspective. His name was Michael R. Bloomberg, and he was the mayor of New York City.

    Though not mentioned in ''The Power Broker,'' Robert A. Caro's biography of the master road builder Robert Moses, one of the more iconic clashes in the long war between the car and the city took place in New York, with Moses playing a role. He and other planners wanted to slice a highway through the middle of Washington Square Park, the heart of Greenwich Village. It is now hard to believe such a plan was ever seriously proposed, but in 1958 it came close to happening.

    At the time, photographed defiantly on the City Hall steps with a giant prop key to lock traffic out of the park, a Tammany Hall leader framed a question that was only then starting to be asked in earnest. Would we, he asked, ''plan and develop our cities in accordance with the needs and wishes of the people who live in them or for the convenience of the vehicles which pass through them?'' The highway through the park was eventually scrapped, but in New York that question, until very recently, has been answered almost always in favor of the passing cars. From 1924 to 1965, car lanes into Manhattan grew from 68 to 120, according to one count, while the number of cars on the street went from 390,000 a day in 1946 (considered intolerable at the time) to more than a million by the end of the 1990's. And that is not because travel has been made more efficient. In fact, it has often been the opposite. In 1907, with trolleys and traffic lanes, the Brooklyn Bridge carried 426,000 people a day; now, with space only for cars, it carries far less than half that number and is often jammed. Convoys of trucks rumble down the decaying streets of Chinatown on their way to New Jersey because tolls on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge would cost them an average of $33 per trip to take the highways that are better designed for them.

    Many traffic experts see Bloomberg as the last, best chance -- at least for the foreseeable future -- for anything to change. When he was campaigning, he sought the advice of car skeptics like Kiley. Samuel I. Schwartz, an engineer who worked on East River bridge tolls under both Lindsay and Koch, wrote much of Bloomberg's stridently anti-car campaign platform himself. And Schwartz, who coined the quintessential New York warning ''Don't Even THINK of Parking Here,'' is no moderate on the issue. He advocates charging trucks $50 for using Manhattan as a pass-through and, were it technically possible, $25 a minute for people who want to cruise Fifth Avenue during the height of the holiday season. (''They want to see the Rock Center Christmas tree from their car?'' he says. ''If they do, they should pay for that great privilege.'')

    After his election, Bloomberg seemed to be moving in that direction. He decided, in the face of mounting attacks by powerful garage owners, to maintain most of an emergency traffic ban that Giuliani started after the Sept. 11 attacks, preventing single-occupant cars from crossing into much of Manhattan during the morning rush. He has ended the age-old tradition of free Sunday parking in many neighborhoods (including his own, the Upper East Side) and banned turns on some busy crosstown streets -- small changes but ones met with shrieks of protest. His transportation commissioner, Iris Weinshall, even went to London last summer to talk to Kiley and Livingstone about the congestion charge.

    But there seems to be a growing sense that Bloomberg could end up among the near-miss mayors on any kind of serious traffic reform. In large part, this is because he has already spent a career's worth of political capital by raising property taxes to fix the city's enormous budget gap, for example, and by banning smoking in bars, a move that would probably get Livingstone sacked in London. Bloomberg and his staff are so nervous about traffic issues that they do not like to talk about them even privately anymore. One city official told me of his particular nightmare: trying to write the speech that Bloomberg would deliver when he cut the ribbons on the new Brooklyn Bridge toll plaza: ''What's he going to say? 'Ladies and gentlemen, these things that've been free for decades and decades. I'm the guy who's going to make you pay for them! Thank you for your support!'''

    Kiley says he still believes that Bloomberg could sell a congestion charge, especially in a city where so many take mass transit and only half of the people living at the epicenter of the problem even own cars. ''That's not a bad place to start,'' he says, ''when you know that half the people in Manhattan are going to be with you, almost by definition.''

    For all the rest, he adds, ''Bloomberg could use the analogy of, well, look what a difference government has actually made to the subway system. Now we've got to take the next step because we have a subway that's working better, a commuter rail system that's in good shape and lots of room on buses. We've got to really start managing road use. That could be his message.''

    Would the message work? New York might not be ready to hear it yet, and the messenger might be killed. But inevitably the city will have to listen, and the brave politician who forces it to come to its senses will be heralded as a visionary. ''Fifth Avenue'' has always had a dull ring to it. What about ''Bloomberg Promenade''?

    Randy Kennedy, a reporter for the Metro Section of The Times, writes the Tunnel Vision column about the New York subway system.

    NY resistant to congestion charge

    By Matthew Wells
    for BBC News Online in New York

    More than half of New York City's politicians are urging mayor Mike Bloomberg to rule out any attempt to bring in London-style congestion charge.

    The plea from city council members based in the two biggest commuter boroughs - Brooklyn and Queens - is based entirely on a recent retail survey by the London Chamber of Commerce.

    Just under half of the UK capital's respondents said the £5 ($8) congestion charge had hurt their business, with over a quarter saying that they were considering relocating outside the zone.

    Three-quarters of the businesses surveyed, added that the charge had not led to improved productivity -indicating that less congested roads don't necessarily lead to more efficient trade.

    The negative impact cited by the chamber of commerce, was gratefully received on this side of the Atlantic, by politicians who are anxious to stop a fiscally-challenged mayor from imposing more tolls and taxes on their voters.

    Easing gridlock

    Mayor Bloomberg has made his environmental agenda clear with a personal crusade to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, and new daytime traffic flow systems in midtown Manhattan, designed to ease gridlock. But sceptics believe that his championing of fellow mayor Ken Livingstone's congestion strategy has more to do with the need to redress New York's chronic budget deficit problems than anything else.

    People are going to drive into Manhattan because they have to - another charge won't keep anyone away
    Denise Chimienti, New York commuter

    The finance committee chairman and council member for East Queens, David Weprin, led a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, calling on the mayor to rule out any attempt to impose a toll on the eastern road bridges into Manhattan, which are currently free to use.

    He said: "The London scheme proves that congestion pricing, tolls, or any other fees that discourage people from coming into the city are a bad idea, and need to be taken off the negotiating table permanently."

    "What does or doesn't work for London, doesn't necessarily work for New York City," he added.

    "You're talking about a much larger business district here...the bad effects it's had on London will be magnified."

    'Another burden'

    Another council member, Eric Goia, cited his own father as an example of how much a congestion charge could cost the city.

    "A big part of my father's flower business is making deliveries to Manhattan every day," he said.

    "This is just another tax ramp," he claimed. "Another burden being put on him by city government, saying, it's too expensive for you to do business in this city."

    The councillors also invoked the 11 September attacks to support their argument.

    Since the destruction of the twin towers and subsequent loss of business activity in lower Manhattan, 100,000 fewer car journeys are being made each day.

    "Now is not the time to impose an additional hardship on our businesses," said councilman Weprin.

    'A rip-off'

    Despite the general popularity of the congestion charge principle in London, New Yorkers taking their lunch break in the City Hall park did not seem to share those environmental concerns.

    Seven-million people commute into Manhattan each day to work, overwhelmingly by public transport systems that work better than the creaking Tube or privatised rail networks.

    Jay Rosario is a Bronx resident who was "taking care of some business" downtown.

    He said: "The idea of another charge for New York drivers is a rip-off. The city's expensive enough already and it'll just hurt the poor-folks."

    Mr Rosario has got so fed up with the economic downturn and cost of living in New York, that he is relocating to Pennsylvania.

    Denise Chimienti, 26, works for the Manhattan District Attorney's office and commutes in each day from Queens.

    "I don't really think there is a congestion problem here," she said.

    "People are going to drive into Manhattan because they have to. Another charge won't keep anyone away, though I guess the city could use the money," she added.

    'Terrible idea'

    A Wall Street banker sunning himself on a park bench, who identified himself simply as Marvin, was more emphatic: "I think it's a terrible idea. Congestion is an urban problem, not a New York problem," he groaned.

    "We're much better here than most, and slapping more charges on drivers is just another burden."

    The doubters here have a serious point.

    New York is a city that is better suited to the automobile, and traffic flows much more freely and efficiently here, than along the largely 18th and 19th century streets of London.

    Councilman Goia however, was prepared to accept that the Big Apple could do better.

    He said: "When you look at cities like Paris and London and Sydney, they have a far more advanced system of crossing their rivers than we do." He added: "One answer to the congestion problem here would be a fleet of high-speed water taxis, crossing back and forth."

    Published: 2003/08/14 23:42:36 GMT

    © BBC MMV

  2. #2


    Can't think of any single thing that would so greatly benefit Manhattan.

  3. #3


    I believe congestion pricing would work better in Manhattan than in London, because Manhattan, after all, is an island! Thus, there are only a dozen or so "choke points" through which one can toll all Manhattan-bound traffic, six of which are already tolled. The toll-free East River and Harlem River bridges are an anachronism whose time has passed. Street space in this crowded island is a scarce commodity, and should be priced accordingly. But buses into and out of the city should be made free, with special express lanes, to counetract the time and money burden such tolls would place on persons of lesser means. The rich, however, should be made to pay up.

  4. #4

    Default Great Idea

    There should be no reason for so much gridlock in NYC. If you live in New York you would know. check Gridlock Sam's Idea its great! We have to cut down on truck drivers cutting through Manhattan to save on Toll.

  5. #5
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Now if we can only put a tax on people who carry enormous bags and packs in a way that doubles their personal space -

  6. #6
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    While I agree in theory with this, you also have to take into account the effects it will have on the economy. Will it cut too much into businesses pockets? Would it make it so that more people and businesses will decide to relocate to the suburbs? NYC is in a constant pricing war with the metro area and other parts of the country. NYC needs to be cheaper for it to grow.

  7. #7


    It stands to reason that the revenues from the tolls will support either tax cuts or enhanced mass transit (you would hope). Either would more than offset the loss of competitiveness due to the higher cost of driving.

    I'll spare you the economic nitty-gritty, but basically, when a good is mispriced (in this case, the correct congestion charge is about $5-10, instead of "free"), it creates a "deadweight loss" to society and economic inefficiency. Essentially, the same thing happens when tariffs are put on international goods, subsidies are given to farmers, etc. A few people win from the subsidy (drivers who don't pay tolls, in this case), but on the whole, society loses from the adverse side effects.

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    I can't imagine what businesses would leave manhattan b/c of a congestion charge. Not a lot of manufacturing happening in midtown that I know of. Most truck traffic is local deliveries, no? So this would be a marginal increase in already high local delivery charges for all the goods that are consumed in Manhattan. I would venture that most businesses that operate in Manhattan are doing so regardless of cost - that they attracted to the world-class pool of workers, and not nickel and dime savings.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by ryan
    ..Convoys of trucks rumble down the decaying streets of Chinatown on their way to New Jersey because tolls on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge would cost them an average of $33 per trip to take the highways that are better designed for them.
    The current Verrazano Narrows Bridge one-way-westbound toll is ridiculous ($8/$9 for cars headed towards Staten Island, $0 when headed towards Brooklyn). I myself have cut through Chinatown to avoid that toll. Either the toll should be split both ways, or done based on congestion pricing.

  10. #10

    Default if you don't like the idea

    just visit Moscow, which doesn't even make most drivers pay for parking- it has become a nightmare. The reality is that in exchange for paying the congestion charge, drivers should expect to spend less time in traffic- so at a certain income level it makes perfect sense to have a charge. And if you're below that income level, why are you toodling around in Manhattan?

  11. #11

    Default Getting Rid of Gridlock-Taxi's

    As a life long Manhattanite and daily driver I can tell you. Cut the number of taxi's by 75%. Traffic would move just fine in NYC without all of the cabs stopping and blocking lanes on major avenues and cross streets. Midtown at mid-day is 50% cabs stopping and blocking lanes. Does anybody remember a few years ago when the cabbies went on strike for a day? It was just like a Sunday morning!. No back-ups, free flowing traffic even in mid-town. I'll bet that's the last time they'll ever strike. All they did was prove how much of a menace they are to everyone's quality of life in the city.

  12. #12

    Default Courtesy Would End NYC Gridlock

    Between the taxis that won't pull over even when they can. The fares who don't care what they block up as long as they get their ride. The fares who don't care how long they block up a street searching for money at their destination (hint....have your money ready when you arrive....then pay, and get out! 5 sec.s max) and the jaywalkers. No wonder NYC in congested. If people just obeyed the rules and were respectful, there would be no gridlock in New York.

  13. #13


    London -it works!

    other cities should follow suit!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Native_New_Yorker
    If people just obeyed the rules and were respectful, there would be no gridlock in New York.
    If people obeyed the rules and were respectful... you would not be in New York.

  15. #15

    Default Gridlock...

    Quote Originally Posted by ryan
    If people obeyed the rules and were respectful... you would not be in New York.
    LOL....Okay, you got me on that one.

    That's why I put the peddle down when the light turns green. I don't run red lights as a driver. I let people pass on turns. Always nice to kids, mothers/fathers with kids, tourists, and older folk (no matter what they all do). Everyone else I put the fear of "Hood stains" into their heart when they jaywalk. As a pedestrian, I stay out of the way and wave people forward if they're on the move. And I'm mindful of my surroundings.

    NYC should have an official "Pop Rude Jaywalkers Day" at least every other month. That would help make this city a better place. If manners don't work, maybe fear of deformity or death will......:-)

    I know in the past I've made a few jaywalkers see the light (life flashing in front of their eyes) and made them more considerate and mindful New Yorkers.

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