Final Push for Congestion Pricing Alternatives

010908 mikeeliot web 0 Final Push for Congestion Pricing AlternativesThe committee set up to recommend a plan to moderate congestion, the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission (which is an outgrowth of Mayor Bloomberg’s failure to gain legislative approval for his congestion pricing plan this past summer), presented a report Thursday afternoon analyzing four alternatives to the city’s proposal.

On Jan. 31, the commission is slated to submit a final proposal, and any congestion pricing plan or similar initiative must receive approval from the Legislature and the City Council.

Of the proposals presented Thursday, the commission devoted much of its time discussing a modified version of the mayor’s plan, which would move the northern boundary of the pay-zone from 86th Street to 60th Street; would not charge drivers for trips within the zone (the mayor’s plan charges them $4 a day); and would add a $1 surcharge for taxi rides within the zone. Also discussed: tolls over the East River and Harlem River bridges, a carbon tax, and $8-per-ride surcharges on taxis.

The chairman of the commission, Marc Shaw, suggested that the end result of the commission will be a product of mixing and matching among the proposals.

“I would assume that the final proposal will not be any one of these,” said Mr. Shaw, who was appointed by the pro-congestion pricing Governor Spitzer.

Mr. Shaw also highlighted the need for the congestion pricing strategy to fund mass transit improvements, an aspect of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan that appears to escape most New Yorkers, at least according to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday. The poll found that New York City voters opposed Mr. Bloomberg’s plan 58 percent to 37 percent. Though when asked whether they would support the congestion pricing plan if revenues went to mass transit, the numbers flipped, with 60 percent supporting it.