Tough Questions from Familiar Critics at Congestion Pricing Meeting

Here's a picture of Rohit Aggarwala, who head the mayor's office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, at a congestion pricing commission meeting at Baruch College yesterday.

While a number of panel members have already indicated they support the plan, a vocal contingent raised their concerns.

After Aggarwala’s presentation, Assemblyman Denny Farrell asked if the goal of congestion pricing was to raise money, reduce vehicular traffic or improve air quality, suggesting that it would not be possible to do those things simultaneously. "You're telling us it's two things, it's black-white," he said.

"It's the kind of solution that does all of them," Aggarwala answered. He said that it is “not primarily a revenue source."

Another critic, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, said of the overall plan, "I don't get it.” Later, he told reporters that what was presented was more of a highlight reel than a detailed plan.

Brodsky also questioned whether the federal government had guaranteed to fund the congestion pricing plan if it was implemented. The city’s DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told him during the meeting that yes, the money was guaranteed.

One small detail: a number of likely 2009 mayoral candidates were represented at the hearing. Among them, cited here randomly and in no particular order, were Chuck Meara, a top aide to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Patrick Jenkins, who works for Bill Thompson's top fund-raiser Suri Kasirer, and Marie Ternes, a top aide to Rep. Anthony Weiner.

UPDATE: A person with better knowledge of who was in the audience pointed out that Thompson’s transportation analyst, Steve Strauss, was there taking detailed notes. 

Tough Questions from Familiar Critics at Congestion Pricing Meeting