This blog is designed to highlight the diversity of views and news stories on urban energy topics that appear daily in the media. They are intended to provoke discussions on how cultural, geographic, political, and institutional influences shape the way energy markets operate and energy policies are made in cities around the world.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Congestion pricing looks to hitch ride again with plan that could earn $1 billion for city
BY KENNETH LOVETT
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF
Sunday, September 18th 2011
ALBANY - A coalition of influential interest groups is quietly shopping a new plan to revive the idea of congestion pricing for some Manhattan travel.
A draft of the plan says it would generate more than $1 billion in new revenue that would be dedicated for MTA service improvements, and targeted fare and toll reductions.
Among the transit, environmental, labor and business groups developing the plan is the labor-backed Working Families Party.
Under the "MOVE NY draft sustainable mobility plan," drivers entering New York City's central business district, from 60th St. down to the Battery, would pay a toll at 22 entry points.
The tolls would vary based on the time of day. Peak hours - between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. - would be in the same range as the Port Authority's bridge and tunnel tolls, and the cost would be lower overnight and on weekends.
Yellow cabs would not be subject to the tolls, but they would be slapped with a $1-per-trip increase to generate $180 million a year, with $20 million going toward the hacks' health care. Livery cabs would get a 50% discount, and commercial vehicles would not pay more than once a day.
The plan would also chop tolls by 15% for the Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Cross Bay and Verrazano bridges, and defer by a year a 2013 MTA fare and toll hike.
The document stresses that "this is a draft plan that continues to evolve as we solicit feedback from stakeholders and elected officials from around the region."
The latest meeting with a handful of lawmakers and other parties is scheduled for tomorrow evening in Manhattan. Supporters say times have changed since 2008, when the Legislature nixed Mayor Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan.
Those in the coalition say they learned from that failure by working the past nine months to include all major parties in developing the plan.
"Everyone we've spoken to across the region agrees that we need to find new funding for our transportation system and appreciates the effort we've made to test different ideas and solicit feedback," said Alex Matthiessen, an environmental consultant and MOVE NY campaign director.
But congestion pricing still faces an uphill battle in the Legislature.
"I think there is zero appetite," one state lawmaker said. "They can dress this up all they want, but people just don't trust the MTA."