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.