Pricing Panel Appointees Announced

From NYC.gov. Bios of the members after the jump.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg today joined Governor Eliot Spitzer, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to announce appointments to the New York City Traffic Mitigation Congestion Commission established by the Governor and Legislature as part of the congestion pricing legislation.

Mayor Bloomberg appointed three people to the commission: Gene Russianoff from the New York Public Interest Research Group and the Straphangers Campaign, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and civil rights attorney and Executive Director of UPROSE Elizabeth Yeampierre.

“Today we are continuing to move forward and work with our partners in State government and in the Council to relieve congestion in New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “Together, we’ll reduce traffic, improve New Yorkers’ health and strengthen the City’s economy.”

Governor Spitzer’s appointments include former First Deputy Mayor Marc Shaw, Port Authority Executive Director Anthony Shorris, and Metropolitan Transportation Commission Executive Director and CEO Elliot “Lee” Sander.  Mr. Shaw will be nominated to be the head of the commission. 

Governor Spitzer said, “Putting the congestion pricing commission in place is an important step towards creating a healthier, cleaner environment for our children and generations to come.   The Commission has a vital task to ensure the ability of New York City’s continued growth, and do so in an environmentally responsible manner.  My nominees all have extensive transportation and public policy experience that will ensure that the congestion pricing plan is well thought out in terms of the impact on the transportation system, the economy, and the environment of the City of New York.  My thanks go to the Mayor and his staff for their hard work on this crucial issue.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver appointed Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, Jr., Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, and Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook. 

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “The traffic congestion mitigation legislation signed into law by the Governor last month outlines a process for a thoughtful and in-depth discussion of the most effective means to address traffic congestion and related health and environmental issues. I am pleased with the nomination of Marc Shaw to head this effort. His demonstrated experience and ability to build consensus on difficult issues will be a great asset to this Commission.”

Senator Bruno appointed New York City Central Labor Council President Gary LaBarbera, SUNY Chairman Thomas F. Egan and Nassau County Council Chamber of Commerce President Richard Bivone to commission.

“We are pleased to join Mayor Bloomberg and others in announcing the Senate Majority’s appointments to the New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission.  By naming the members of this important commission, we have taken another step forward in our efforts to make New York a national leader in reducing traffic congestion, modernizing mass transit and improving the quality of the air we breathe,” Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said.

Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith appointed Counsel and Project Director of Arverne By the Sea, Gerard Romski, to the Commission.

“Mr. Romski will be a strong asset for members of the Senate Democratic Conference in working to address New York City’s long-term transportation needs,” Senator Smith said. “His appreciation of public transit’s role in that process as well as his open mind about the structure of any traffic congestion mitigation plan will serve our Conference well.”

Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco appointed Environmental Defense New York Regional Director Andy Darrell to the Commission.

“Andy Darrell’s track record on environmental and health-related issues is second to none,” said Assembly Republican Leader Jim Tedisco. “His input and ideas will be invaluable as we look for answers to New York City’s traffic congestion problems. I am honored to appoint him to this crucial commission.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has appointed Drum Major Institute Executive Director Andrea Batista Schlesinger, Greater Allen Cathedral CFO Edwin Reed and Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathryn Wylde to the Commission.

“New York City anticipates adding nearly one million new residents over the next two decades, and we must have a forward-looking plan in place to handle such substantial growth,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “We are confident that the Commission will carefully consider the different proposals and find a responsible and impartial solution to reduce traffic congestion in our City. The Council’s appointees are extremely familiar with moving and shaping public policy in our diverse communities.  They bring a broad range of experience that will enable the Commission to come up with a plan to make New York a cleaner, greener, more livable city.”

 

Biographies of Commission Members:

Richard Bivone is the President of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce and the President and Founder of RMB Drafting Services, the largest research/drafting/expediting firm on Long Island.  Richard played a key role in forming the Nassau Business and Community and Planning Coalition (NBCPC), a unique partnership between the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, the Nassau Village Officials Association, Vision Long Island, and environmental and civic groups.  He is a retired member of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).

Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky represents the 92nd Assembly District. Brodsky currently serves as Chairman of the Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, which oversees the state’s public and private corporations. In addition to his Committee Chairmanship, Assemblyman Brodsky has also introduced a number of proposals to reform state government through constitutional change.

Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook began her civic role more than 30 years ago when the Kennedy Airport and airport expansion threatened her community. Cook, who represents the 32nd Assembly District, has been an activist for community improvement. Working tirelessly to secure funding for various building and reconstruction programs, Cook has helped develop community housing programs that provide residents with affordable homes. Assemblywoman Cook currently serves as Assistant Majority Leader.

Andy Darrell is Director of the Living Cities program at Environmental Defense, focused on practical, market-based solutions for climate change and health in major cities.  He also serves as New York Regional Director.  He is a member of Mayor Bloomberg’s Sustainability Advisory Board, convened in 2006 to help create a new sustainability plan.  Previously, he helped form two organizations instrumental in revitalizing abandoned New York City waterfronts.  After law school, he worked at Davis Polk and Wardwell, an international law firm, and as a consultant on financing clean energy projects.  He received a JD (Law Review) from the University of Virginia and a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  He is a trustee of the Van Alen Institute, the New York League of Voters Conservation Voters Education Fund, and New York City’s International House.

Thomas F. Egan was appointed Chairman of the State University of New York Board of Trustees on February 8, 1996, and a member and Vice Chairman on June 27, 1995.  A lawyer and banker, he has spent over 30 years in the securities industry, with extensive experience in capital market finance. Mr. Egan is a managing director at Citigroup Global Markets in New York City.  Previously, Mr. Egan was a principal in Langdon P. Cook & Company, Inc., for twelve years and a staff attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for three years. Mr. Egan is the past chairman of the Foundation for the New York United Hospital Medical Center and active in civic affairs. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a trustee of Marymount College, and member of the Port Chester Village Planning Commission.

Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, Jr. was elected to the State Assembly in 1974 from a district that encompasses West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. Farrell serves as chair of the Committee on Ways and Means and is a member of the Committee on Rules. Prior to his appointment to Ways and Means, Farrell was Chair of the Committee on Banks, where he successfully secured passage of the Omnibus Consumer Protection and Banking Legislation Act.

Gary LaBarbera is the President of the New York City Central Labor Council and has nearly 25 years of progressive labor leadership with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, including currently serving as Joint Council 16 President, which represents over 100,000 members in the New York Metropolitan area. He also serves as a Vice President for the New York State AFL-CIO, the Long Island Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, and the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council.

Edwin C. Reed is the Chief Financial Officer at the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York and has been serving in this capacity since 1995. He has previously served on the Board of Directors of the New York Bank from 2001 to 2003. The Allen organization provides services such as rehabilitating and building affordable housing, developing and managing 14 commercial stores, operating a community service center, and providing quality education for up to 500 students.  Previously, Reverend Reed was the Executive Staff Director for Congressman Floyd Flake of New York. Reverend Reed has served as: Chairman, Jamaica Business Resource Center; Treasurer, Outreach Development Corporation; Vice Chairperson and Member of the Board of Directors, Hofstra University; Member of Wheelchair Charities; Co-Chairperson, New York Housing Conference; Member, Chase Community Advisory Board; Member, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York Affordable Housing Advisory Council; and Member, Allen Christian School, Allen Transportation, Allen Women’s Resource Center and Allen Housing Development Corporations. Reverend Reed formerly served as Chairman of the Queens County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission.

Gerard Romski is a former partner at the law firm Ross and Cohen, LLP, he currently serves as Counsel and Project Executive for one of New York City’s largest mixed-use development projects, Arverne by the Sea, incorporating more than 2,300 new housing units in Queens.  A strong advocate for public transit investment, Mr. Romski has also served as the Assistant Division Chief in the Real Estate Litigation Division of the New York City Corporation Counsel’s office where he represented the City in real estate matters.

Gene Russianoff has been mass transit and government reform advocate for the New York Public Interest Research Group, a student-directed social change organization, since 1978. Mr. Russianoff is a staff attorney for NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign.  His efforts have helped to win unlimited-ride transit passes and free subway-to-bus transfers; increased transit service; creation of independent transit safety and management watchdog agencies; $53 billion in funds to rebuild the subway and bus system since 1982; and rider and labor representatives on the MTA Board of Directors.   New York 1 News named Russianoff a “New Yorker of the Year” in 1997 for coalition work to win unlimited-ride Metro-cards.  Russianoff is the author of more than 100 reports on transit service.
 
Janette Sadik-Khan was appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation by the Mayor in April.  Prior to her appointment, she was a Senior Vice President of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a leading international engineering firm. Commissioner Sadik-Khan is nationally recognized for her expertise in innovative finance, public policy development and transportation issues – knowledge gained in over 15 years of experience at the federal, state and local level.  Before joining Parsons Brinckerhoff, she was Deputy Administrator at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

As Chief Financial Officer, she managed the agency’s $4 billion annual capital construction budget and was responsible for developing an innovative finance program which provided localities with increased funding and regulatory flexibility. She also served as Director of the Office of Policy where she initiated the FTA’s Art in Transit program to expand federal funding for art and design in transit facilities and implemented new criteria to improve the ways in which the benefits of transit capital projects were quantified.

Elliot “Lee” Sander, Executive Director and CEO of the MTA, has served as a Corporate Senior Vice President at DMJM Harris, a leading transportation engineering firm, and as Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. Sander is also the founder and co-chairman of the Empire State Transportation Alliance, and he is a Commissioner on the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.  He graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown.

Andrea Batista Schlesinger has led the effort to turn the Drum Major Institute, originally founded by an advisor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement, into a progressive policy institute with national impact.  Under her leadership as Executive Director, DMI has released several important policy papers to national audiences including: Middle Class 2004: How Congress Voted, People and Politics in America’s Big Cities, and From Governance to Accountability: Building Relationships that Make Schools Work. She has worked in various capacities to promote educational equity and youth empowerment. She directed a national campaign to engage college students in the discussion on the future of Social Security for the Pew Charitable Trusts, and served as Director of Public Relations of Teach for America before working as the education advisor to Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.

Marc V. Shaw is Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning at Extell Development Company and is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the company. From 2002 to 2006, Mr. Shaw was the First Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Operations under Mayor Bloomberg. Prior to that he served as the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  He also served as City Budget Director, Commissioner for the New York City Department of Finance, and Director of Finance for the New York City Council. Mr. Shaw also held a position with the New York State Senate Finance Committee.  He has been an adjunct assistant professor of Public Services at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Services at New York University, and is currently an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

Anthony Ernest Shorris, Executive Director of the Port Authority, formerly served as the Director of Princeton University’s Policy Research Institute at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education. He also has served as the First Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as New York City’s Commissioner of Finance, and Deputy Budget Director.

Kathryn S. Wylde is President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit organization of the city’s business leaders, established by David Rockefeller in 1979. The Partnership is dedicated to maintaining New York City as a center of world commerce, finance and innovation. Its public policy focus is on issues in the areas of education, infrastructure and the economy.

The Partnership’s economic development arm is the New York City Investment Fund. Wylde served as founding President and CEO of this $110 million civic fund, which was established in 1996 under the leadership of Henry R. Kravis. Wylde was also founding President and CEO of the Housing Partnership Development Corporation, serving from 1982 to 1996.   In that capacity, she was instrumental in creation of a number of pioneering initiatives in affordable housing at the local, state and national levels.   An internationally known expert in housing, economic development and urban policy, Wylde serves on a number of boards and advisory groups, including the New York State Commission to Modernize the Regulation of Financial Services, the Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Board, the Special Commission on the Future of NYS Courts, Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission for the First Judicial District, NYC Economic Development Corporation, Research Partnership for New York City Schools, NYC Leadership Academy, Governors Island Advisory Council, the Manhattan Institute and the Biomedical Research Alliance of New York.
 
Elizabeth C. Yeampierre, a Puerto Rican civil rights attorney born and raised in New York City is Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization.  In 1996, Elizabeth helped shift UPROSE’s mission to organizing, advocacy and developing intergenerational indigenous leadership through activism.  In reaching these goals, UPROSE focuses on environmental, economic and social justice.  Ms. Yeampierre is a co-founder of CURE (Communities United for Responsible Energy) and OWN (Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods).  Ms Yeampierre serves on Mayor Bloomberg’s Sustainability and Long Term Planning Advisory Board and the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

  • gecko

    Amazing!

  • JF

    Hopefully Yeampierre and Reed will clue Farrell and Cook in that most of their low-income Black and Hispanic constituents take subways and buses, and will benefit from congestion pricing.

  • Mark

    I’ve been a long-time Sierra Club member and would love to reduce congestion everywhere. I do hope, though, that they take lower income considerations into account. I wish this whole thing was based on income, not just another flat user fee. Rich people can pay even the $8 without is hurting their pocket books, while $8 is really a lot for lower income people. I know that’s not popular with some, but jeez I’m a Lefty and I don’t like flat taxes, flat rates for public transportation, and am sick with the constant pressure on us poor folk.

  • Anonymous

    So what you prefer is a commuter tax. Tell that to Brodsky, who was instrumental in eliminating it..

  • Ian Turner

    Mark,

    As has been pointed out hundreds of times here already, driving in New York is already quite expensive and if you can afford to commute by car to Manhattan, you’re not really all that poor. What’s more, the environmental and social costs of congestion are the same whether the perpetrator is rich or poor — why should these imaginary poor drivers not therefore pay their share?

  • JF

    Mark, for all I know your post could be completely genuine, but it reads like it was written by Walter McCaffrey’s $8-an-hour intern. How many Sierra Club members would describe themselves as “us poor folk”?

  • JUSTIN

    So?

    You people act like people will actually stop driving, and the roads Manhattan will suddenly clear up.

    Wake up. People will still drive, Manhattan will always be crowded with cars for ever! This stupid congestion pricing will do nothing.

    Look how the gas prices have changed compared to a few years ago. But more people are driving!!!

    *Yawn*

    NEXT.

  • Mark’s got a point. It’s more of an emotional point than a rational point – I know because I wrestle with it, too.

    Mark, think of it this way. We are suggesting charging for a limited resource (the congestion itself is a sign that there is way too much demand) and to give a price to the impacts that go with driving.

    Compare that to the use of water. We don’t charge rich people more than poor to use water from the tap. Is that fair? Rich people can afford to waste water without thinking about it, while someone with a tight budget has to consider its use.

    Should water be free? I mean, it falls from the sky. But there’s a cost of delivery (as there is with roads, which is partially covered by fuel taxes) and a negative aspect to excessive use.

    Just an idea.

  • Ian Turner

    Justin,

    Although the experience in the other places where congestion pricing has been attempted has been a real decrease in traffic, let’s suppose for the moment that the American response is different and that the policy is ineffective in reducing congestion.

    The program would still be a success nonetheless, because it raises additional money for public transportation and from transportation sources. This can provide greater service for public transportation and makes transportation income less volatile — right now, most of it comes from property taxes, which can be considerable one year and nil the next.

    Finally, there is an economic principle that it is best to tax those things that have an inelastic response, because they distort markets less. Income, for example, is less responsive to taxation than consumption — people still work about the same amount, even if you tax them more, but they will spend noticeably less when there is a higher sales tax. So, if your hypothesis were correct that Manhattan drivers would continue to drive at the same rate as today, congestion pricing would be an excellent discovery, because it provides a new inelastic tax source. If driving is inelastic, then you could raise the congestion charge to $50 or more without the distorting effects of other taxes.

  • JF

    Sorry, Ian D., I don’t wrestle with it at all. Why? Because no motorist looks down on pedestrians more than someone who grew up poor, but whose circumstances (or credit) have allowed them to buy a car. Now all of a sudden they’re sooo much better than all those schleps who ride the train, and they’re going to drive fast, blast their music, install a loud car alarm, and park on the sidewalk. Fuck ’em. I want that congestion charge so high they get their fucking Escalade repo’ed and their asses are back on the train with the rest of us.

  • gecko

    Congestion pricing is seed money for getting the real stuff done and time is a wasting.

  • Mark

    Wow, thanks to those people who responded to me in a civil way!

    JF, I don’t know what to tell you, I am who I am. I figured I’d say poor folk instead of a broke son of a bitch. I’m also a Sierra Club member. Put it together and you get a Sierra Club member who is poor. If you want to get into elitism in the environmental movement we can, but I don’t think we need to.

    Some comments are good and I understand Ian’s point about shared social costs, although he says lower income people who drive into downtown are “imaginary.” I’m sure at least some do exist.

    I guess even more than that is my philosophical opposition to taxes like this that gives me pause. Yes, no matter how rich or poor you are each person may be equally using the scarce resource, but that doesn’t mean, as a progressive, we’ve taken that approach as fair or equitable. As a society we’ve almost made it a common practice, but one I think is not fair.

    For instance we have mass transportation run by quasi-governmental agencies that were created to build infrastructure. The agency released bonds to pay for the project and then charged users a fee to repay those bonds. It was supposed to be that after those bonds were repaid that the agency disbanded that these projects went back to being funded by taxes. Here’s the problem: they keep bonding to stay in existence and the temporary user fee structure has become permanent.

    Drive in Canada and you don’t pay fees to use their roads etc. It is paid for out budgets paid from progressive taxing. It was meant to be done the same way here, but we’ve (even on the Left) be reconditioned to think that equal flat charges for scarce resources is ok without regard to how much people can actually afford it. I don’t like when Republican presidential candidates of yesteryear sell us “Flat Taxing” and I don’t like it now. Maybe it is foolish or naive to think so, but let’s try to do it in a progressive way.

    That was long-winded. Now I shall take a breath and drink my coffee.

  • Zach

    Hey Mark:

    I’m of a leftist bent and inclined to agree with you in a lot of cases, but not so much on this one. I think what’s important is the way the funds are allocated, and NYC’s fairly unique transportation market share. Even assuming that there’s a lot of low-income motorists driving into the business district (and I’m pretty sure someone who works on this site could point out a study showing that there aren’t), ultimately the tax on those motorists is funneled to transit. $8 out of the pockets of one low-income motorist becomes $7 in benefits to low-income commuters who do take the train.

    It makes sense to me to incentivize one behavior over the other, given the choice, regardless of the class of the parties involved. Ultimately, when a poor guy drives from the Bronx to Manhattan, the impact is the same — if not worse — as when a rich guy does it from Westchester.

  • Mark

    Zach,

    Interesting and something to ponder. More importantly, thanks for the civil tone! I think we on the left attack too much and the sharing of ideas then gets lost. This helps.

    Mark

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Mark, don’t let your philosophy prevent you from seeing what’s really going on here. I take it you don’t extend this opposition to other flat fees like passport renewals and marriage licenses, or “sin taxes” like the cigarette tax?

    In the months since this has been proposed, I’ve only heard of one person (a maid) who travels to Midtown by car on weekdays and could be considered low-income by any stretch of the imagination, and she carpools so the burden on her wouldn’t be all that great. I think it’s very telling that Brodsky and others have not been able to find anyone. If these poor Manhattan-commuting drivers exist, there may be at most a handful of them, and you have to ask whether it’s worth the asthma, car deaths, slow buses and underfunded transit for the sake of such a small number.

    As I’ve written before, the vast majority of car commuters have a choice, so the only way that the concept of regressive vs. progressive makes sense is if you look at all the ways of getting to work: car, bus, subway, bike, foot, ferry, etc., and the incomes of all commuters. If you do that, it’s pretty clear that the congestion charge is one of the most progressive things you could do.

  • gecko

    Probably the biggest downside of congestion pricing will be a rash of cars painted bright yellow with bootleg medallions.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    To put it another way, if you take into account the money that our income and sales taxes pay to the upkeep of the region’s “free” bridges and highways, compared with the amount paid for the “flat taxed” subways and buses, the current system is incredibly regressive. This is the situation that Brodsky and Silver are fighting to preserve. They say they want to do something, but so far they haven’t proposed any serious changes.

  • Spud Spudly

    Mark, the folks here see CP as some kind of silver bullet. They would have you believe that no traffic control system could possibly be effective without it. They roundly trash Anthony Weiner for his opposition, and ridicule the alternative traffic control methods he’s proposed as some kind of cynical obstructionist ploy. They would have rubber-stamped Mayor Bloomberg’s original proposal, even though it left a staggering number of questions unanswered, and even though the Mayor obviously lied when he said that his plan had to be approved immediately in order to receive any federal money for traffic control. They’ll tell you that poor people don’t drive even though poor neighborhoods are filled with just as many cars as wealthier ones (and BTW, if they can’t afford to drive then how can they afford to own property and pay a water bill?). They have no qualms about creating yet another Byzantine government bureaucracy to charge fees to its citizens for using the public streets and thoroughfares. They’ve no interest in researching alternatives to CP because if it worked in two European cities then it must work here too, right?

    And they couldn’t care less about the class divisions that CP would enforce, or the fact that NYC is already the most stratified spot in the country in terms of income and wealth distribution.

    But Silver’s appointees sure seem to point to continued opposition by the Speaker to any kind of congestion pricing. He threw the biggest monkey wrench at them that he could find.

  • Steve

    So much of the evidence on the “tax” issue has tended to illustrate that statistics are the “third kind of lie.” Brodsky slices the data to isolate the group that uses the free East River crossings and compares their total CP payment $8 to CP payment of those wyho use the tolled crossings, and says this is a regressive tax. What rubbish. I think Angus (#17) takes the better and more rational approach by looking at all of the East River crossings (both vehicular and mass transit) and the entire set of revenue streams that support them. That is the only fair way to determine who is being “taxed” by CP as compared to the existing regime.

  • Sione

    Spud, the delay and controversy surrounding congestion pricing in New York has already cost New York up to $180 million, since we were in line for a $530 million grant. San Francisco, a city less than a tenth New York’s size, got a grant half the size of New York’s ($150 million) for congestion pricing, probably because they didn’t have crafty obstructionist Assemblycritters like Silver and Brodsky trying to derail the plan through red herrings and backroom political dealings.

  • Hilary

    I have a question about the aesthetics of the congestion pricing infrastructure. Are we talking about discreet cameras attached to existing structures or buildings, or something more visually intrusive?

    Iris Weinshall’s enlarged street signs designed to be visible at higher speeds were effective (in encouraging faster traffic), but definitely changed the look of the city. As do overhead expressway-scale traffic signs on the parkways and service roads.

    A minor point to most, I’m sure, but the commission should be asked to consider aesthetics in evaluating alternatives IMHO.

  • Eric

    Let’s hope that the Pricing Panel puts half the effort into coming up with a good plan that they did in tripping all over themselves in self-praise in the press release.

  • Spud Spudly

    You can’t say that NY was “in line” for a larger grant because you just don’t know that. The USDOT played its cards very close to the vest, and as far as I’m aware never intimated that that was the case. The person who said that was Mayor Bloomberg, who should be credited with initiating this entire debate but who failed to lay the proper groundwork for his proposal, who didn’t anticipate the inevitable political turmoil a controvertial proposal like CP would encounter, and who kind of thought that everyone would just fall in line behind him.

    And who, BTW, lives inside the CP zone (by just eight blocks) and who could piss away $8 a day for the next 200 years and still not be affected by his proposal.

  • Chris

    Spudly,

    Although the suggestion made by pols such as Anthony Weiner and others such as the Cross Harbor Freight tunnel, bike lanes, better enforcement, etc. would be great for the city, none of them address the core causes of congestion: the perverse incentive to drive and induced demand.

    For every car or truck that the freight tunnel or new bike lane takes off the road, another car will replace it. The basic factor limiting car trips in the New York area (aside from parking costs), especially east of the Hudson, is congestion itself. This is due to the concept of induced demand. The extra road capacity freed by these suggestions will induce more demand from these road which would have otherwise been deterred by congestion. The net effect would mean that the congestion would remain the same.

    If you have free parking, for example, there is no disincentive (aside from congestion) for you to drive rather than take mass transit and no incentive for you to car pool. This is because the marginal cost for driving is below that of the marginal cost and opportunity cost for the inconvenience for some mass transit. The opportunity cost for car pooling is also higher than the marginal cost for driving alone.

    What C.P. does is raise the marginal cost of driving to a point in which it hopefully is more than the total cost of car-pooling or taking mass transit. In doing so, it can artificially hold back demand for road space so that it is not in equilibrium with supply. This creates a surplus of road space which results in reduced congestion.

    Spudly, if you have an alternative suggestion that addresses induced demand, please put it out there.

  • Spud Spudly

    That’s Mr. Spudly to you. Or you can just use Spud. 🙂

    If what you say is true — and the basic factor limiting car trips into the City is congestion itself — then CP will not reduce congestion because the people who leave their cars at home will be replaced by people who can easily afford the $8/day but who avoided driving because of the time and hassle involved. Don’t you think there are plenty of wealthy folks in Westchester, Jersey, Long Island, etc. who would pay the $40 a week if it meant an easier ride in their comfy Lexuses? (They’re already paying for their monthly commuter passes anyway, so the expense isn’t really that great for them.)

    So perhaps it’s reasonable to assume that what CP will do is clear the streets of the less well-off so that the more well-off can drive more comfortably. In which case you can claim that CP would be an effective revenue collector, but you can’t say that it will reduce congestion.

  • Chris

    Spud,

    The point I was trying to make is that currently, the marginal cost plus opportunity cost for making a trip is more expensive for taking transit than driving for a lot of people. As a result, there is little or no incentive to carpool, take transit, etc. aside from parking costs (which too many people avoid) or congestion. By adding in congestion pricing, it raises the marginal cost of choosing to drive.

    That being said, I think the main flaw in congestion pricing as proposed is that the fee is too low. I think that it should be scaled in regard to transit fares for suburban commuters within a certain radius of the city so that the charge will be at least equal, if not more expensive than the available transit options. As of right now, it is set to be comparable to Bellerose on LIRR, Tuckahoe on MN and between Elizabeth and Linden on NJT. I think it should be scaled more to major park and ride stations such as White Plains and Metropark. If it was scaled to Metropark, for example, the charge should be around $10.5 – $11.

    This of course needs to be coupled with government permit reform. It should also go with market pricing of street parking.

  • Ian Turner

    Spud,

    I’ll address you with a title when you use a less pseudonymous identifier.

    What you seem to be saying is that there exists a price whereat congestion pricing will be ineffective because induced demand will drown out any effect it might otherwise have. That is undoubtedly true, and we can argue about whether or not the proposed price of $8 is higher or lower than this threshold. But if not, then congestion pricing still has advantages — namely, it raises transportation funds from a more stable transportation source. Furthermore, even if $8 is too little there must exist /some/ price that would exceed induced or latent demand and actually reduce congestion. If the congestion charge were $100,000/day, then I think we could all agree that there would be a marked effect (probably too marked) in congestion. So there must be a number between $0 and $100,000 that yields the desired amount of traffic. Do you disagree?

  • Christine Berthet

    All, what a good conversation…
    In China, which is truing to literallly clean its act before the Olympic games in 2008 ( the air is so bad , the british runners wil arrive just a day before the games !!) have just instaured their own version: the cars with license plates ending with odd numbers are banned one day and the next day , the cars with even numbers are banned.
    By the way this is one approach suggested by Brodsky .

    Now this technique is used in Mexico city. And you what ? the rich people buy two cars so that they can drive any day of the week.

    As you can see, there is nothing that will stop rich pepole to do what they want ..

  • Spud Spudly

    Christine, I think the partial answer to that would be to ensure that when someone registers multiple cars the NYSDMV issues them license plates that are either all odd or all even. I realize the truly wealthy would easily find a way around that as well, but it’s worth a shot if there ever was an odd-even system.

    And Ian, I could not disagree with that. Of course there is some price at which congestion would be relieved and even eliminated entirely. But by then you’ll be weeding out everyone except the exceptionally rich, and we don’t want to live in a place where only the exceptionally rich could enjoy certain uses of public facilities, do we (even if they are sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House and having coffee with Dick Cheney)?

    It’s difficult because we live in a unique area where there are lots of rich people who commute by public transportation because they all work on this crowded little island that is at the center of a massive metropolitan area. But the point you make reinforces one of the arguments that CP opponents are making – that while it may be $8 today, it will inevitably go up tomorrow. Just as it did in London.

  • Chris

    Spud,

    The registration system you proposed would not work because it would do nothing for cars registered outside of New York. There are wealthy people in New Jersey that own summer homes in Vermont that register their cars there so they do not have to pay NJ insurance rates. Wealthy people again have an even greater advantage here.

    New York could not ban cars from other states due to the interstate commerce clause of the constitution. Nor could it force other states to agree to its program.

    As I said before, the C.P. charge *should* be higher to give suburban commuters a greater incentive to switch to mass transit.

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