Just when you think you’ve solved one problem, along comes some whizz with a computer to give you another.
Before the holidays, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo finally reached agreement on the long drawn saga of the new taxi bill. As part of the bill, 2,000 new yellow cab licenses for Manhattan will be sold, raising a ‘one shot’ billion dollar cash injection for the city’s coffers. In addition, each cab will also be wheelchair accessible.
So, what’s the catch? Well, traffic, that’s what. And it’s taken a month for someone to it point out. In a Reuters article picked up by Streetsblog, transport analyst Charles Komanoff says that the 2,000 new cabs in Manhattan is the traffic equivalent of adding 80,000 new cars, presenting TLC commissioner David Yassky a serious conundrum.
For the past few years, Mr. Komanoff has worked on a computer model that analyzes congestion pricing, and even accounting for less private traffic that the new cabs would potentially replace, he still predicts travel speeds to fall by 12%. This is probable as most private cars tend to come in and leave the city, whereas a yellow cab spends on average seven hours a daychugging around through the heart of Manhattan looking for fares.
All this means that the Central Business would be running at maximum capacity, with the only logical way out, barring the creation of ‘fast lanes’and lets face it, that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one—is the creation of a congestion charge.
And here we are again. Along with former DOT traffic czar Sam Schwartz. Mr. Komanoff proposes his latest iteration of the accursed congestion pricing: charge $5 to enter the CBD and $5 to leave, while reducing tolls on some of the M.T.A. bridges that don’t connect to the CBD. Unlike Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Komanoff’s also proposes an exemption for any vehicle’s first trip into the CBD in any month, which seems like a fair fare idea. Both plans would likely earn the MTA a billion dollars a year.
But that kind of bold thinking moves about as fast as Midtown traffic, doesn’t it?