Spitzer Backs Congestion Pricing

Is Mayor Bloomberg actually going to pull this off? Governor Eliot Spitzer came out in favor of congestion pricing this morning. Elizabeth Benjamin at the Daily News reports:

Standing with Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Gov.
Eliot Spitzer this morning said he is "in favor of embracing a congestion pricing model"
at a press conference where U.S.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced New York is one of nine semi-finalist cities competing for $1.1 billion worth of federal funding to help implement traffic-curbing plans.

Spitzer called congestion pricing "a necessary investment for New York City" and said the state will work with the city to fine-tune its application for federal funds.

"This is not really a question of whether, it’s a question of when and a question of doing it properly," said the governor, who also stressed that issues of implementation and the effect congestion pricing would have on the overall transportation system still remain to be worked out.

Peters, who said she personally experienced the city’s traffic problem when she hit a jam on the FDR on her way to the governor’s Manhattan office, said the federal government aims to pick five finalist cities by early August and will be seeking assurances from local officials that their respective plans can be implemented quickly.

The city could receive some $400 million, although Spitzer said they’re aiming for $500 million. The cash would be used to implement a pilot plan, Bloomberg said, adding: "People want specificity; But until we try it, we’re not going to exactly know. We are smart enough and flexible enough to try things and constantly improve them."

This is a one-shot deal – if the deadlines aren’t met, the funding won’t be available later, said Peters. She called Bloomberg’s plan "bold, brave and long overdue," adding: "This plan will keep the city that never sleeps from becoming the city that never moves."

The Legislature needs to sign off on congestion pricing. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has signaled his support. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been more reticent. Bloomberg is scheduled to testify at an Assembly hearing on the topic tomorrow in Manhattan.

Peters was supposed to travel to Albany this afternoon to meet with both Bruno and Silver, but called off her trip due to what was billed as a last-minute scheduling conflict.

  • d

    “This is not really a question of whether, it’s a question of when and a question of doing it properly.”

    I think this is the greatest argument for congestion pricing I’ve seen. Opponents can debate the need for it now, but it seems difficult to argue that we’ll never need it or that NYC can continue to grow without consequence. Eventually the population of NYC will be such that the city will be forced to do something about traffic.

    So, the choice is to do something now while we have the time to test programs and tinker with enforcement, hours, prices, and other variables or to do something later when we have less room for experimentation.

    Hats off to the governor for recognizing the importance of securing this funding.

  • I watched the press conference live on NY1 and was thrilled to see the Federal, State and Local governments all on the same page.

    It’s clear that the legislative bodies – in Albany and the City Council – are the only bodies trying to keep their heads in the sand as the boat sails.

  • It’s going to happen.

    I think that most legislators who are not 100% on board, e.g. Millman, are looking to shape the legislation so that their districts see tangible benefits to go along with the new impacts from the plan.

    And MTA is really going to have to ramp up services, or daily transit commutes are going to become a nightmare. [Insert plug for F express in Brooklyn here]

  • Pat

    So let me understand this. If the legislature pass it, but the Federal Gov’t then picks another city to give the $500 million to, what happens then?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Or, Pat, what if we pass it, they give us the $500M but cut us out of future Fed Gas Tax revenues to make up the difference, since we are not a “donor” state? Do we still think we won?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    I still think we’ll have won, and it’d be worth spending $500 million of city or state money on. The federal contribution is a bonus. Of course, it’s not a good idea to waste it.

  • Judith L’Heureux

    Support congestion pricing.

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