Mayor Pushes Pedal On Traffic Plan

In meetings with legislators and other leaders, the Mayor’s aides have signaled their willingness to compromise on key points to make the plan for work.

Mr. Bloomberg, for instance, has suggested that he would support a residential-permit parking program for the inner tier of outer-borough neighborhoods to prevent outsiders from parking there and jumping on the subway; that’s a shift for an administration that until now has opposed such policies. That and other adjustments have made the whole system, to one Queens legislator, look jury-rigged.

“I think these attempts to fill the holes in the plan are being done on the fly,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity in order not to anger the Mayor. “I would be open to exploring continued study and exploration of the idea. I would not be comfortable casting a vote on it tomorrow.”

Missing the June 21 deadline would not doom congestion pricing, according to the wide array of transportation, business and environmental advocates who support the idea. For one, the federal government may continue the grant program next year.

Paul White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, a transit advocacy group and also an early proponent of congestion pricing, said that getting early momentum for the proposal would benefit the cause even if it spills over into next year.

Kathryn Wylde, the president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, an association of business executives that supported congestion pricing long before the Mayor did, said that eventual passage of a congestion-pricing scheme for New York was “inevitable.”

“By the end of June? I think it’s a challenge,” Ms. Wylde said, “because the Mayor’s plan didn’t come out until April 22 and both houses of the State Legislature had a laundry list of their own priorities before the session ends.”

But more time, while giving the Mayor a chance to sort out the details to gain support from more public officials, is also giving opponents time to organize.

Over the past few days, the main group that has formed against it, Keep N.Y.C. Congestion Tax Free, has sent out a report laying out its arguments (among them, it says that operating the system would cost $240 million a year). And, on May 23, the group plans to stage a rally against congestion pricing; more than a dozen representatives from unions, wholesalers and grocery-store owners particularly incensed about the proposed $21 fee on trucks are expected to turn out on East 59th Street.

There has been just one other press event by congestion-pricing foes since the Mayor’s April 22 announcement, in Elmhurst, Queens. It went largely unnoticed and unattended by Manhattan-based reporters because, well, you pretty much needed a car to get there.