Here is the State Senate’s Congestion Pricing Bill

Here, at last, is a draft copy of the New York State Senate congestion pricing "compromise" bill. The bill does not yet have a number and was never brought to a vote. It has been circulating since July 19.

I still need to read through it and figure out exactly how it differs from what Mayor Bloomberg originally proposed. If anyone wants to help with that, feel free to post your findings in the comments section.

  • Steve

    it contains virtually no substance, it speaks almost exclusively to the process. NYC is not authorized to do anything to directly mitigate congestion by this legislation.

  • drose

    Actually, they are. In Section 6, the City and the State have the OK to undertake any measures to mitigate traffic congestion immediately. The only approval required from Albany is their vote on an “implementation plan” that would charge contestion pricing fees, which would need to occur by March 31, 2008, after a home rule message is passed by the City Council.

    So the City can actually put in place many of the other mitigation measures (cameras, bus lanes, etc.) now. It just doesn’t have congestion pricing fees available to pay for them. Yet.

  • JK

    Sorry Drose, just because (quoting this legislation)” nothing in this act shall otherwise prevent or limit the City of New York or the State of New York from taking any other steps to mitigate traffic congestion” — other state laws require New York City to get authorization for bus cameras and residential parking and speed cameras etc. This act doesnt do anything to trump those existing laws. Though it outlines a process that will produce new legislation that will potentially give the city new powers.

  • Steve

    Drose, I would be elated (I think) if Section 6 actually works the way you describe. But my take is that it merely states that nothing in this legislation prevents the city and state from implementing other measures (such as additional red light cameras) using the procedures that ordinarily apply, in other words, NYS must approve additional red light cameras, NYC Council would have to approve that and other types of measures, etc.

  • Daily Politics has co-sponsors listed on the bill–most of NYC delegation, and including the big naysayers like Brodsky.

    Holy hell.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2007/07/congestion_pricing_bill_take_3.html

  • drose

    Steve and JK,

    Understand that some of the measures that Bloomberg has proposed would require other legislative approval. But I don’t expect him to sit still until March next year and wait for congestion pricing to be approved before he begins to put in place other traffic mitigation measures. After all, everyone on both sides of the debate generally agrees that increased service will be needed before any plan takes effect – express buses and the like. But I would also expect Bloomy to move on placard abuse in the ensuing eight months, among other things.

    Of course, if the Feds don’t come up with the cash, all bets are off. In that case, expect the traffic mitigation measures to be moved front and center. And it won’t be pretty.

  • Steve

    Amen, Drose. I was among the many that welcomed appointment of Commissioner Sadik-Khan a couple months back, but I have been concerned that her public comments are short on details and timeframes for concrete deliverables. While the focus over the last few months has been on congestion pricing (perhaps a bit more focus earlier on m,ight have helped) we now find that congestion procing is going to be in the “exploratory/trial” phase for years.

    So what specifically is on the DoT’s short-term agenda for addressing congestion? Here are my favorites (nothing new):

    Care Free Parks: make this permanent or at least temporary for (what’s left) of the summer. Study the hell out of the impact on traffic in adjacent areas, and use the stats to disprove what we already know–that roadway restrictions reduce rather than increasing congestion on adjacent non-regulated roadways. This will also encourage mode shift to cycling, further reducing congestion. And it can be accomplished with the stroke of the DoT Commissioner’s pen.

    Parking Reform: Raise funds for mass transit and reduce congestion caused by double-parked delivery vehicles by market pricing curbside spaces until there are adequate vacancies to accomodate delivery vehicles, and then eliminate the Department of Finance’s “Stipulated Fines Program” that allows commercial delivery vehicles to pay 50% or nothing on their double-parking tickets. Convert all of the free curbside spaces in manhattan halfway up the blocks from commerical strips (e.g., 50% of the sapces on any street block that intersects an avenue with primarily commerical zoning such as Broadway or Lexington). Use the revenues from the new meters and the elimination of the commerical vehicle parking fine giveaway program for mass transit.

    Bike Parking: Fast-track the local legislation to require NYC employers of a certain size to supply secure bike parking, and get Parks Dep’t to install bike parking at entry points and other logical locations within City Parks, rather than stepping up their campaign to clip locks and confiscate bikes. Will encourage bicycling without affecting motorists and reduce congestion.

  • JK

    No arguement that the mayor still has the ample authority all mayors do to raise on-street parking meter rates, pedestrianize streets, install traffic calming,put HOV and bus lanes down on streets and bridges,create new off-street parking reductions in the zoning code, install bike lanes and paths, and decide to make parks car-free and tons of other things.

    The original point is that this procedural legislation doesn’t change that one way or another.

    What the mayor and his commissioners are actually planning to do with their substantial existing authority, I do not know.

  • JK

    Steve,

    As your comment notes, Commissioner Sadik-Khan and her top staff have been in place for a couple of months. It’s just too early to start getting antsy. She clearly hired Bruce Schaller and Jon Orcutt — who are leading thinkers and doers in the transportation reform movement — for a reason. I’d expect a lot of cool things to happen in the next year and a half. What the new DOT does not want to do is hastily roll out a bunch of ill considered stuff and get their head handed to them by City Council and the press. They do not want to burn political capital where they do not need to. That means taking a moment to assess where real opportunities are before plunging ahead.

  • Steve

    JK, I see your concerns. PlaNYC for the most part reflects a top-down planning initiative and not a broad-based popular movement that is in a position to demand immediate changes. The initiative is vulnerable to criticism in the media and city council, unnecessarily burnt political capital in this environment is a bad thing, and sure, a “honeymoon” period for the new DoT is appropriate. But it’s not a very fun honeymoon for me when the DoT is practicing “abstinence” with respect to modest reforms in order to conserve political capital for longer-term projects like congestion pricing that will be up in the air until April 2008.

    Putting modest reforms on hold in order to conserve political capital for the congestion pricing battle is risky, and timing vis-a-vis the electoral cycle magnifies the risks. If DoT waits until 2008 or later to roll out car-free parks or incremental moves toward market-rate curbside parking, there is a much greater likelihood that those measures will get politicized in connection with the Assembly’s vote on the “real” congestion pricing plan in 2008 and municipal elections in 2009 (or even be repealed by a new administration in 2010). As congestion pricing heats up or founders in 2008, the logic of putting more modest improvements on hold becomes even more compelling as the need to conserve political capital becomes even greater.

    That’s why I’m antsy with the lack of specifics. There is actually not all that much in PlaNYC to encourage modal shift that is not dependent upon approval of congestion pricing. The administration can avoid putting all of its eggs in the congestion pricing basket by implementing modest measures now that do not require Albany or even City Council approval now.

    My comments should not be misconstrued as a charge that DoT or the Bloomberg administration generally is insincere in their support for a broad agenda of “green” measures. I think they seem completely sincere. But at some point we have to be sure that there is at least some lasting legacy for PlaNYC, and that point is not all that far off. Car-free parks have been studied and experimented with sufficiently that it can’t be lumped in with other measures that might be characterized as hasty or ill-considered (I don’t think that the other two measures I mentioned in my earlier comment should be so characterized either, but I’m ready to listen as to why more study is needed). Concrete improvements such as serve as tangible bona fides to the bicycling/transit advocacy community and might even foster some incremental modal shift, both of which could translate into stronger popular support for congestion pricing when that support is needed in 2008. Appeasing the likes of CM Fidler by refraining from concrete improvements until congestion pricing is resolved could leave us with nothing.

  • JK

    Steve, I think we agree on everything but when it’s time to start getting antsy. I would have liked to see the mayor announce a car-free summer for Central Park on April 22. The signature of London and Paris has been pushing ahead with very visual gestures — Trafalger Square pedestrianization, Paris Plage and now Velibe — which send a strong signal that livable streets come before traffic flow. We still haven’t seen that in NYC. I think we will. If we are still having this discussion a year from now it will be past time to get antsy.

  • Herb

    Steve – trying to institute new policies, while trying to reorganize that agency’s bureaucracy, while trying to bring on new hires, all while trying to keep the many important day-to-day functions of the agency going strong, requires a transition period. If you have familiarity with large institutional change, I can’t see how you would expect dramatic changes in a month or two period.

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