Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Rant # 451.6 - Congestion Pricing

Tony's rule # 352a: Once you make money off of your problems, you have no reason to fix your problems.

rule # 352b: Once you can make money off of your problems, it becomes financially prudent to make those problems worse.

The NYC city council has passed Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan, and have sent it on to Albany. The supposed line is that it has something to do with the environment and raising money for public transportation. In reality, it has everything to do with revenue.

Proposed Pro: If the city charges residents $8 to drive into lower Manhattan (below 60th street) The federal government will pay $351 million into our public transportation system.

Real-life Con: Because Albany forced the MTA to take high-priced loans in the 90s, the MTA is more than $20 billions of dollars in debt- and by 2010 are expected to have a debt of $32 billion $351 million won't make a dent in that.

Proposed Pro: More drivers will take public transportation, which is good for the environment.

Real life Cons: #1 - THE MTA IS ALREADY OPERATING OVER CAPACITY. The massive "desired" influx of riders will only make the problem worse. Any proposed improvements would take years of construction to complete.

#2 - The outer Burroughs will become parking lots. For those who don't know, Manhattan is an Island. If this plan is implemented, more drivers from upstate New York and Long Island will drive into the surrounding Burroughs (increasing OUR traffic, thank you,) and park in neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens which are close to subway stations. It is near impossible to find parking in these neighborhoods as it is - as anyone who's ever visited me will tell you.

#3 See the rule at the top. As with every fine in New York City, it's nothing to do with deterrent, it's all about making money. One of the first things Bloomberg did when he came to office was double all the fines and order the police to enforce every unknown law on the book. (This led to the the famous case of a man being ticketed for sitting on a milk crate - a fine the mayor supported.) Truck drivers must park - often illegally - to make deliveries. The answer? Raise the fines to an average of $115 and reduce the number of allowed parking spaces. The cost of the fines are absorbed into "the cost of doing business." Many of the billboards in NYC are illegal (not approved or in the wrong zone.) Answer: fine them - not quite enough to make the billboards unprofitable, but enough that the city gets its cut. The fine becomes part of the billboard owner's cost of doing business.

To make a long story short, Bloomberg and the city council know damn well that some people have no choice but to drive for their commute. In fact, they're counting on them. This overhead will just be chalked up to "the cost of doing business." or "the cost of living/working in New York City." Funny, that's why I thought city taxes were for.

#4 - Truck drivers will pay $21. Why should I care? Because most of those trucks are making deliveries. The price of tolls will be passed down to the consumer

Proposed Pro: "It works like a dream in London! Really!"
Real life... ? If it works as well as the proponents claim, I see one significant difference: Manhattan is an Island, with only a handful of bridges and tunnels leading in and out. London's solution was to increase the amount of buses before working on their subway system. The problem with that is that a bus/subway ride from Queens to Manhattan costs $2 each way, while a bus ride from Queens to Manhattan costs $5. That's a 250% increase, so people are 250% more likely to cram into an already overcrowded subway than take a bus. Also, many of the commuters come from upstate NY (Metro North) and NJ (Port Authority,) so the increases in service would need to be much more widespread.

An open note to anyone in the U.K. - Does congestion pricing actually work or not? I'd like an insider's point of view, if you'd be kind enough to give it.



Caroline said...

I don't live in London and haven't been there in years. But you can try googling for "london congestion charge dodging" And also:

String said...

I live here in London and it doesn't bother us...however in the beginning when neighborhoods had 'free' parking, the areas close to the bus and subway got very you have to have a permit to park anywhere in my area - at it was one impacted. It costs 8pounds to go in for the day, if you live there I hear you get a 25 percent, that's a lot! LOL...not really. It's a pain when you 'accidentally' drive into it, don't know it and get an 80 pound fine in the mail!

I do avoid commuting into the area, and I bet you would find that for those who do, it's a pain, however, driving into the outside area is a traffic nightmare!

Lots of people don't like it, but I am for public transport and for it being upgraded, increased and used.

I use public transport to commute.

Rayne said...

This is a major mess.
I don't know if you can fix this one...
The area I lived in in Germany pretty much forced walking or Public Transportation to go downtown since private vehicles weren't allowed in a lot of places. It seemed to work, saved on road costs, traffic cops, etc.

Keith Ryan said...

I live in Des Moines, Iowa and I've never had a problem finding a parking spot. Our gas is cheaper since we mix it with Corn ethanal and it's better for the environment. It takes me 15 minutes to drive the 16 miles from my home to my job....I love the midwest....


Oh, I've been to Tony's house, but I used the public transportation to get there, so I didn't need to park.

Tony LaRocca said...

Sure, Keith, but what happens when giant, mutant locusts feed off the corn-laced smog that you're happily pumping into the atmosphere? How do you know Al Gore isn't a giant locust in disguise, and he's just sold us all down the river to feed his insectioid brethren? :D

(Good to hear from you, old friend - send me an email, would you? The one I have doesn't work anymore.)

Keith Ryan said...


Knitting Painter Woman said...

You're so virile when you rant!

Tony LaRocca said...

Erm - thanks! :")