Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Horrible Idea That Just Won't Die

A flurry of Congestion Pricing stories in the past week - mostly spurred by the 'Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free' report detailing better ways of reducing traffic than rerouting it to transportation hubs in the other boroughs - like Forest Hills.

Of course, the report was pretty much dismissed out of hand because it didn't support the goal of the Congestion Pricing. No it's not reducing traffic. The Keep NYC proposal does do that focusing on double parked cars and taxis cruising/cutting off three lanes and stopping to pick up fares.

The real goal of Congestion Pricing is to give Bloomberg a watershed achievement - Watergate to Woodward/Bernstein. . .9/11 handling to Giuliani. . .Fireside Chats to FDR. . .you know something concrete. Trans fat ban just isn't going to cut it. Also, Manhattanites love CP because it keeps people out of their country club.

The open-minded Manhattan-based StreetsBlog.com said that NYC would only get the federal money if Congestion Pricing and only Congestion Pricing were enacted - and thus the Keep NYC report shouldn't even be considered:

Fact Remains: No Congestion Pricing = No Federal Funds. What are you, my Dad trying to get me to do my homework? "Fact Remains: No algebra, no wiffle ball."

And why are we grovelling for federal funds and ruining neighborhoods without so much as a legally-mandated Environmental Impact Study? Isn't our health worth more than $350 million (mysteriously down from $550 a few months ago)? What if the feds promised us a billion if we cleaned up our homeless problem by Friday - what would Streetsblog advocate doing?

Irony - Streetsblog is advertising the Forest Hills Jane Jacobs tour on its sidebar. Good thing it's before Congestion Pricing is enacted or you might as well tour the White Plains Metro North Parking Lot.

Read this Daily News piece on what people OUTSIDE of Manhattan think of this shitty idea called Congestion Pricing.

http://www.nydailynews.com/boroughs/bronx/2007/10/15/2007-10-15_mayors_congestion_plan_debated_in_riverd.html

Excerpts:

Brodsky echoed criticisms that surrounding boroughs would become parking lots for suburbanites seeking to avoid the toll, and that the plan unfairly targets the middle class.

"This is a tax directed at middle-income people in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens and it's not fair ... and it simply won't work," he said.

Wylde pointed to dips in congestion and pollution in London and Stockholm.

"Traffic congestion is destroying our economy," she said, citing a $13 billion-a-year cost.

The residents also weighed in, including Lori Copeland, of Kingsbridge, who said the plan would be cost-prohibitive for parents taking their children to Manhattan schools.

Olivia Koppell called congestion pricing "un-American in its philosophy."

"We should address congestion and pollution in all areas of the city, not just a special zone," she said. "If we do this, we might as well put up a fence [around Manhattan] and say, 'This is just for the rich and famous.'"

By the way that $13 billion cost for traffic Wylde keeps throwing out there was estimated at $4 billion by the same group in 1998 even though traffic has remained the same so don't trust those estimates. There is traffic EVERYWHERE in the city - as much going east on the Grand Central as there is going west every morning. Targeting a small (and by far richest) slice of it is downright asinine.

Congestion Pricing will result in even more people using Forest Hills as a Park n' Ride. Make it citywide or improve mass transit first. Don't tell me you don't have the money. Or that you need to ruin our neighborhoods to grovel for the Federal Funds. You just spent $45 MILLION dollars to spruce up the Central Park Police Precinct - which probably shouldn't even have one. I walk in both Central Park and Flushing Meadows often. Guess which one I feel safer in?