For Congestion Pricing, Against Bridge Tolls

Among the elected officials who came out at a press conference yesterday against the Ravitch Commission’s recommendation to raise revenue

Among the elected officials who came out at a press conference yesterday against the Ravitch Commission’s recommendation to raise revenue for the M.T.A. by tolling the East River bridges was Senator-elect Dan Squadron.

It’s interesting because while Squadron opposes tolling East River Bridges, he is in favor of congestion pricing.

Squadron, though a spokesman, emailed to explain:

"As we try to close a historic MTA budget gap without breaking the backs of straphangers, we need innovative funding solutions that also clean up our environment and cut down on commerce-choking congestion. Instead of dividing the boroughs of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens from the rest of the city by throwing inflexible, permanent tolls on east river bridges, we need a solution that deals with the problem: more funding for public transit with less pollution and congestion, especially at peak times. Unlike the bridge tolls proposal, congestion pricing, market-rate street parking and variable weight (or MPG) charges for automobiles would accomplish those goals."

UPDATE: Here's the point-by-point response to the Ravitch Commission report that Squadron released yesterday:

1) Review of the MTA's operating budget and capital needs

ON TRACK: · The report rightfully identifies the way that over-reliance on self-supported capital debt depletes the MTA operating budget.

· The report points to the need for improved bus service, a necessity for retaining ridership, serving seniors and helping New Yorkers in underserved areas obtain access to transportation.


· The report lacks a comprehensive review of the MTA's real estate holdings and areas for short or long-term cost-savings.

· The report lacks a clear prioritization of projects within the capital program, including short- and long-term cost benefit analysis, in case the dedicated funding streams come up short.

2) Fare policy ON TRACK:

· The commission recommends against the proposed 23% fare increase, which would be a hardship on straphangers. · The report is reluctant to adopt a set, arbitrary "fare ratio" formula.


· If the MTA does adopt an inflation-pegged biannual fare increase structure as recommended, it must create a new, more stringent process for out-of-cycle increases.

· If an out-of-cycle increase is required, there must be true accountability for poor planning by the Chairman, Executive Director and Board if such an increase is required. · The process for determining fares biannually must allow for fare decreases as well.

3) New approaches and funding sources to meet the MTA's needs ON TRACK:

· Creation of the Mobility Tax for those who benefit from the MTA's service but don't contribute, to be put into the new Capital Finance Authority.


· The proposal for East River tolls, which would divide Manhattan from the rest of the city, ignores preferable alternatives for a vehicle-based revenue stream, such as congestion pricing, variable vehicle weight charges, MPG rating charges or market-rate street parking.

4) Additional regional mass transit needs ON TRACK: · The report recognizes the dire need for an investment in Bus Rapid Transit. MIND THE GAP:

· The report lacks discussion of other alternative transit options, including "people movers," monorails and the role of bicycling on our overall transit picture.

5) Governance changes


· The recommendation to rationalize the roles of the Chairman and Executive Director would improve accountability and independence at the MTA.

· The report correctly identifies issue expertise among board members as a valuable asset for the MTA and offers a valuable recommendation that such expertise be required.


· The report does not consider the appropriate balance of board appointments among the Mayor, the Governor, riders and other constituencies.

· The report offers no recommendations about rider experience beyond operational concerns. 6) Transparency and accountability


· The report recommends increased web access for MTA reports and audits, which would help make the authority more transparent to New Yorkers.


· There is no mention of an independent process for assessing the performance of the Chairman, Executive Director and board based on accuracy of financial projections and rider satisfaction.

For Congestion Pricing, Against Bridge Tolls