Thursday, January 27, 2011
New Push for congestion pricing? Not from City Hall
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg still strongly supports the idea of charging motorists to enter the most congested parts of Manhattan. Just don’t expect him to re-launch another effort to get the controversial, revenue-generating proposal approved in Albany any time soon.
“I happen to think it makes some sense, but I’m going to stay out of it,” Bloomberg said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve done everything we can.”
In 2007 Bloomberg pledged to “fight like heck” to get the state Legislature to approve a congestion-pricing plan that would have charged motorists $8 to enter Manhattan anywhere below 86th St. between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
The mayor, true to his word, aggressively lobbied for the proposal. But ultimately lawmakers in Albany rejected the measure, dealing Bloomberg one of the most high-profile defeats of his tenure as chief executive of the nation’s most populous city.
Responding to questions about a Daily News story suggesting a renewed effort to pass some form of congestion pricing, Bloomberg on Wednesday joked sarcastically, “What a clever idea! My God, how did they think of that?”
“Just think about how much better off we would have been today if five years ago, or thereabouts, the Albany Legislature” moved forward with the proposal, Bloomberg added. “You want to dissuade people from driving because the streets are clogged. We are never going to have more streets. So, you have to have fewer cars,” he said. “You can only have fewer cars if you have better mass transit, so that people have alternatives that are cost effective and pleasurable and more efficient.”
The money generated from charging motorists was to be directed toward improving mass transit. Despite his interest, Bloomberg said supporters of the concept shouldn’t count on him to lead the charge this time.
“We’re not working on it,” he said. “This is up to Albany. Talk to Albany.”
A City Hall aide confirmed Wednesday there is currently nothing concrete on the table and said the mayor would not actively lend support to congestion pricing again without a politically viable proposal.