Congestion Pricing Critic Praises Bloomberg

Today is Earth Day! It’s also the one-year anniversary of Michael Bloomberg’s formal announcement of a plan for congestion pricing.

To honor the occasion, a congestion pricing critic, Assemblyman Mark Weprin, is distributing a letter that commends Bloomberg for putting the issue on the table:

“So while I opposed the congestion pricing plan, I applaud the Mayor for appropriately placing traffic congestion and its environmental impacts at the forefront of public discourse. Indeed, every mayoral candidate running next year will now have to present a serious plan for traffic mitigation in New York City.

Here’s the full letter:

GIVE THE MAYOR SOME CREDIT

I am surprised that there has been criticism of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tactics, and complaints that he could have done more as he tried to enact a congestion pricing plan in New York City. Congestion pricing died because it would have placed an unfair burden on middle class New Yorkers, a much smaller burden on Manhattan residents, and no burden at all on out-of-state drivers. However, had anyone other than Mayor Bloomberg been the plan’s principal backer, it would have been dead on arrival. So while I opposed the congestion pricing plan, I applaud the Mayor for appropriately placing traffic congestion and its environmental impacts at the forefront of public discourse. Indeed, every mayoral candidate running next year will now have to present a serious plan for traffic mitigation in New York City.

The debate that culminated with the rejection of congestion pricing should be the beginning, not the end, of New York’s conversation about sustainable growth. Last year, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled an innovative and detailed set of proposals, known as PlaNYC 2030, to ensure that the growth that takes place in New York City in the coming decades is sustainable. The plan recognizes that we should be getting ready to welcome the next generation of New Yorkers and making sure that New York City is a leader in the fight against global warming. It is easy to get caught up in the issues of the moment, so I commend Mayor Bloomberg for looking to the future.

PlaNYC 2030 has over a hundred components other than congestion pricing. Having disagreed with the Mayor on congestion pricing should not stop any elected official from supporting measures such as planting one million trees, cleaning up brownfields, and reclaiming underutilized waterfronts. Indeed, plaNYC’s goal of reducing global warming emissions thirty percent by 2030 deserves serious attention from everyone who cares about the future of our city and our planet.

In the end, most of my colleagues in the Legislature and I resisted congestion pricing because our constituents were overwhelmingly against it, and it is our job to represent their interests. Still, New York should be looking at ways to combat traffic congestion. We might consider mandating car-pooling at certain hours, which was successful after September 11, imposing a fee on certain private car services, or even creating a surcharge for driving in Manhattan, provided it is implemented in a way that distributes the burden to everyone equally.

So, thank you Mr. Mayor for opening the eyes and ears of New Yorkers. Let’s not let one ill-fated proposal distract us from addressing the serious challenges that we face on this Earth Day.

Congestion Pricing Critic Praises Bloomberg