On Behalf of 5.2% of His Constituents, Dinowitz Opposes Pricing



The16% of Bronx residents who own cars tend to have significantly higher incomes than those who do not, according to data from the State Department of Motor Vehicles and the 2000 Census.

In an editorial in this week’s Riverdale Press, Bronx Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz says that if the vote on Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan were held today, he’d vote "no." Though he presents his position as a change of heart, Dinowitz was railing against the mayor’s plan back in July.

Dinosaur.jpgDinowitz represents and lives in Riverdale, a relatively well-heeled Bronx neighborhood where, according to the 2000 Census, only 5.2% of workers commute by car into Manhattan’s Central Business District. As noted in his editorial, Dinowitz is one of them.

So, what are the Assembly member’s objections to the Mayor’s plan? Dinowitz’s first and seemingly most passionate issues are procedural and political:

  • He is "outraged" that the Legislature "had a gun held to our heads" to pass legislation before the July 16 federal funding deadline which, Dinowitz says, "was a lie." No mention of the $354.5 million grant that New York City won thanks to this outrage.
  • Despite the formation of a 17-member commission and the opportunity we now have for months of public debate, Dinowitz is still "troubled" that the Mayor and congestion pricing supporters are trying to "ram it through with as little discussion as possible."
  • The commission "appears stacked in favor of one side of the argument, putting into question its ability to be fair. The 17 members consist mostly of Manhattan residents and, it appears, no residents of the Bronx or Staten Island."
  • Dinowitz says that he has raised "serious concerns" about the plan but the Mayor’s people haven’t "given satisfactory responses."

And what are these serious, un-addressed concerns? Dinowitz writes:

  • Because their crossings are already tolled, New Jersey drivers will only have to pay an additional $2 to $4 to drive into the congestion pricing zone while "most Bronx residents" would have to pay a new fee of $8 to drive south of 86th Street on city streets. The car-commuting Assembly member, it seems, may be unaware that the vast majority of Bronx residents actually use mass transit to travel south of 86th Street — and they pay a fare to do so.
  • Congestion pricing’s air quality benefits would only benefit "children who live in Midtown." Cleaner air, Dinowitz seems to believe, would magically stop at the 86th Street border.
  • After complaining that it takes an hour and a half to get to Manhattan by transit, Dinowitz argues that Manhattan-bound car commuters will use his district’s streets as their park-and-ride lot resulting in an increase in traffic and pollution.
  • Taxis and car services shouldn’t be given an exemption.
  • And my favorite: The Mayor’s plan fails to address the scourge of "bicyclists driving the wrong way or ignoring the traffic rules."

Dinowitz also raises this point:

Despite his opposition to a plan that would provide New York City with its most realistic opportunity for traffic reduction and increased transit funding in decades, Dinowitz praises Mayor Bloomberg "for attempting to take bold steps to improve the environment" and says that he is "very open to taking major steps to reduce traffic in Manhattan and throughout the city."

  • kma

    Ok, here are some ideas. Take them in degrees.

    1. No cars allowed in Manhattan with less than 2 or 3 people.

    2. Free mass transit during off peak hours. Or some kind of an incentive to make it almost free if not used during peak.

    3. Credit Car Swipe for the mass transit (either express bus or other). Not really impressed with express bus which is smelly and rough to ride.

    4. Truck drivers who make deliveries to buildings in Manhattan should be able to do them in the evening. I still think that taking them off the street is a big relief to the congestion. And the delivery interfers with the regular course of business.

    5. Make parking garages more expensive.

    6. Shift working hours to other than 9 to 5.

    7. Taxi’s should be able to pick up more than one passenger, and take established routes.

    8. Make the subways nicer to ride. Air condition and/or heat the stations. Clean them up. Lighten the surroundings. Make the messages easier to understand. Have them run on time, and more often. Create more user friendly situations for transferring (IRT 59th Street is confusing). Less stairs and/or more convenient escalators. Make them seem safer. Make certain that they don’t skip stations and make a short ride longer (this happens alot in the Bronx no matter what line you ride). You get the idea.

    9. If mass transit was safe and if they had cross town connections in outer boroughs like the Bronx, then school buses could be taken off the streets and children could ride on the subway and/or bus. in order to avoid the traffic with the work rush hour of 9 am, school hours should be made either later or earlier, or a combination of both (depending on the age).

    Well, there you have it. I tried for 10, but it is too much to ask. I am tired of thinking. Now it is someone else’s turn to make suggestions or tear these down.

  • Neighbor

    Thanks kma, for adding concrete suggestions. Here is my response — which you shouldn’t take as criticism. It’s all part of our collective groping toward the solutions.

    1. No cars allowed in Manhattan with less than 2 or 3 people. THIS IS MORE ONEROUS AND DISCRIMINATORY THAN A FEE, PRODUCES NO REVENUE, AND REQUIRES MORE INFRASTRUCTURE/ENFORCEMENT. Think about it: if I need to drive into Manhattan to pick up 4 students, I have to first find someone to ride (one way) in with me? How about having a toll surcharge for single drivers instead?
    2. Free mass transit during off peak hours. NO REVENUE HERE, AND DOESN’T REDUCE CONGESTION DURING PEAK HOURS, BUT WOULD MAKE THE EMPTY LINES AND STATIONS IN THE BRONX MUCH SAFER IN OFF PEAK PERIODS (DEPENDING ON WHO TOOK ADVANTAGE OF IT!).
    3. Credit Car Swipe for the mass transit GOOD FOR THE EXPRESS BUSES.
    4. deliveries to buildings in Manhattan should be able to do them in the evening. OK
    5. Make parking garages more expensive. ASSUME YOU MEAN WITH A TAX TO CAPTURE REVENUE FOR CITY. IN MANHATTAN OR THE BRONX? BUT HOW ABOUT ALL THAT FREE STREET PARKING? YOU DON’T WANT TO INCREASE CRUISING, DOUBLE PARKING. WON’T THIS BE ATTACKED AS CLASS WARFARE AS MUCH AS THE FEE?
    6. Shift working hours to other than 9 to 5. IF THIS REQUIRES INCENTIVES, THEN IT IS A COST TO THE CITY, NOT A SOURCE OF REVENUE. STAGGERING SCHOOL HOURS IS A PROBLEM FOR PARENTS.
    7. Taxi’s should be able to pick up more than one passenger, and take established routes. THIS HAS PROMISE, ESPECIALLY WITH INTERNET/TEXT MESSAGING, AND OUTSIDE MANHATTAN
    8. Make the subways nicer. OF COURSE, BUT YOU DON”T WANT TO INCREASE THE FARE. WHY WE NEED $
    9. cross town connections in outer boroughs
    YES YES YES. CURRENT THINKING IS TOO MANHATTAN-CENTRIC. Wonder how much of the congestion on subways in Manhattan consists of people who are just traveling through it? This would also keep more lower-income Bronxites out of Manhattan (just kidding!)

  • kma

    Sorry, I thought the goal was to reduce congestion, not increase reevenue.

    You know that government is supposed to provide a servie not just charge a fee.

  • Chris H

    Neighbor addressed most of the points, but let me add.

    4. Congestion pricing does just that by giving a disincentive for making deliveries during the day. If truck drivers want to continue to drive for free, they can do so, between 6 pm and 6 am. More importantly, with congestion pricing, it will make it so the free space made from the lack of trucks won’t be completely filled by cars through induced demand.

    5. It would be much better to market price street parking. By raising the price of street parking, it would make it less attractive vis-a-vis garage parking, thereby increasing demand for garage parking. With increased demand comes increased price.

    Street parking spots should be reduced and converted to loading zones, bus bulbs, etc. which would, with market pricing, further raise the price of street parking.

    6. This is another reason for congestion pricing, although not as well implemented in PlaNYC. Ideally this could be achieved by having peak congestion pricing: $12 6am-10am, 4pm-6pm, and $8 10am to 4pm. (I think that the current proposed charge is too low, btw).

    9. Again, just removing school buses from the streets does not take into account induced demand. In addition, many people would probably still not feel safe letting their kids go alone to school and, if they had a car, would probably drive them instead, causing more congestion.
    Buses are much more efficient people movers than cars so we shouldn’t get rid of them only to have that road space given to private motor vehicles.

    As to my suggestions:
    1. Reduce roadway capacity allocated to private motor vehicles. Every expressway should have at least one lane in each direction converted to either bus-only or HOT (High Occupancy/Toll). In some cases, expressways should be completely eliminated i.e. Sheridan.

    2. Eliminate a number of private motor vehicle lanes on the crossings by converting them to bus lanes, HOT or other types of transit. They are already planning on removing another lane in the Lincoln Tunnel approach from general usage by converting it to HOT, lets do it elsewhere. They are also talking about reactivating transit service on the North Shore in SI. If it is extended over the Verazano by taking out road capacity, SI could get the fixed guideway transportation link to the rest of the city that they have been always dreaming of.

    3. As I said earlier, variable congestion pricing. And make it higher.

    3a. Ideally, it would be great to have a system based on the amount of CO2 admissions like the one proposed for London, but I am not sure how feasible it would be in the U.S. with our decentralized vehicle registration. If its workable, I am all for it, but I would also like to have it based on a formula that takes into account the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and particulate emissions. This should also provide a disincentive for using vehicles that take up even more of the road. It would also give an incentives for trucks to modernize to less polluting alternatives.

    4. All of the suggestions by gridlock Sam.
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/09/12/gridlock-sam-offers-four-ideas-to-cut-traffic-congestion/

    5. Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel and other freight rail improvements and modernization around the region. There should be a substantial public/private investments in the infrastructure. The regional freight network should be electrified to improve air quality and efficiency. This should address some of the larger concerns about the tunnel raised by the residents of Maspeth i.e. air quality and noise. The issue of increased pollution with connecting truck traffic can be somewhat mitigated by C.P. encouraging the purchase of cleaner vehicles.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Nasty, Personal, Elitist and Not a Bronxite

|
PlaNYC identifies North Riverdale, a neighborhood represented by Bronx Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz, as one of 22 New York City neighborhoods with a higher than average concentration of Manhattan-bound drivers. (Download the transportation section, page 86) Bronx Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz wasn’t happy with Streetsblog’s presentation of his Riverdale Press editorial against congestion pricing last […]

New Congestion Pricing Plan, Same Jeffrey Dinowitz

|
The recommendation of a modified congestion pricing plan put forth last week by the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission has elicited another editorial from Bronx Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. Tellingly, the piece, from this week’s Riverdale Press, starts off with talking points that fellow Assembly Member Richard Brodsky and "Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free" spokesman Walter […]

Bronx Traffic Relief Forum Tonight, 7:30pm, Riverdale Temple

|
Bronx Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz is hosting a forum tonight on Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan. Speaking in favor of congestion pricing will be Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. Speaking in opposition to congestion pricing will be Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities […]

“Not Getting Anywhere” at Bronx Pricing Forum

|
And we thought Bloomberg had a tough crowd… Filed by Megan Chuchmach: Parking at the Riverdale Temple in the Bronx was at a premium Thursday night, with cars lining Independence Avenue in front and packing the lot out back. Inside, the owners of those cars, for the most part, raised a stink about Mayor Bloomberg’s […]

Bloomberg Visits the Bronx. Dinowitz Anti-Pricing Rally Fizzles.

|
Mayor Bloomberg and city agency commissioners answered questions in Riverdale last night. Megan Chuchmach reports: The auditorium at PS 24 in Riverdale was packed Tuesday night, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his commissioners entertained an estimated couple hundred Bronx residents at a town hall-esque style meeting organized by the Northwest Bronx Democratic Alliance and the […]

Jeffrey Dinowitz Hosts a West Bronx Congestion Pricing Forum

|
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is hosting a forum on congestion pricing. Speaking in favor of congestion pricing will be Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. Speaking in opposition to congestion pricing will be Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions. Residents of the Riverdale, […]