Bloomberg's Big Plan: Congestion Pricing, Parks, Lots of Mass Transit

 Bloomberg's Big Plan: Congestion Pricing, Parks, Lots of Mass Transit

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to enact a three-year pilot program for congestion pricing where the city will charge $8 for drivers who enter Manhattan from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, he announced today.

Reminiscent of a plan successfully enacted in London, New York would use a combination of cameras and Easy-Pass technology to charge drivers who enter into Manhattan below 86th Street. The cost of East River tolls would be automatically deducted from the $8 charge for drivers entering the borough. And Manhattan residents who move their cars for alternate side of the street parking would not be charged.

Congestion pricing would be coupled with transportation upgrades throughout the city and surrounding areas paid for by a new financing authority called the Sustainable Mobility and Regional Transportation Authority (SMART).

Bloomberg made the announcement at the American Museum of Natural History, where he unveiled the 127 initiatives in his PLANYC project, which he says will make the city more environmentally friendly, and be able to accommodate the approximately 1 million additional residents expected to move here by 2030.

Among the overall goals of PLANYC is to have every New York resident live within a 10 minute walk of a park and public transportation.

The Bloomberg administration has correctly calculated that congestion pricing will be one of the most controversial elements of the plan — it has already come under fire from outer borough-based elected officials like Rep. Anthony Weiner and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall — but that it has the better chance of becoming reality now, as part of the larger scheme, than if it were proposed on its own sometime in the future.

The ultimate goal is to encourage drivers to abandon their cars for mass transit — and to raise lots and lots of money. "Building the new transit we need-and our entire region needs-and achieving a full state of good repair will require over $50 billion," according to PLANYC material distributed by Bloomberg's office.

"The SMART Authority's mandate will be to provide funding necessary to complete nearly every critical transportation project-and finally bring the full system into a state of good repair."