Highlights of Yesterday’s Traffic Commission Meeting

Deputy Commissioner Bruce Schaller’s team at the Department of Transportation has been taking ideas offered up by Traffic Mitigation Commission members and running them through NYMTC’s regional traffic model. Schaller’s job is to help the Commission determine how effective each of these ideas will be in cutting traffic and reducing total vehicle miles traveled in New York City. To keep its $354.5 million federal transportation grant, the City must reduce VMT 6.3 percent using road pricing.

Schaller presented his findings at yesterday’s Commission meeting. You can flip through his presentation above (though, I recommend clicking through to the Slideshare web site and viewing the larger version). Since the first and most important slide is too small to read, here is the list of the traffic reduction ideas that Schaller’s team has been modeling either as alternatives, supplements or modifications to Mayor Bloomberg’s original proposal (you’ll note that Lew Fidler Tax’n’Tunnel plan didn’t make the cut):

  • Night delivery incentives
  • Telecommuting incentives
  • Increasing the cost of parking in the CBD
  • Taxi stands
  • Surcharge on taxi and livery fares
  • East River Bridge tolls
  • License plate rationing
  • Required carpooling
  • Creation of High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes
  • Changing the northern boundary
  • Charging to drive on the FDR and West Street
  • Changing the hours / variable charges
  • Changes to the toll credit policy
  • Exempt hybrids.

Aside from Assembly member Richard Brodsky’s continued treatment of the scrupulous, forthright Schaller as the quintessential evil government bureaucrat (Brodsky knows exactly how important it is to attack the credibility of the "Keeper of the 6.3%"), the highlight of yesterday’s hearing, for me, was an exchange towards the end on government employee parking permits.

GaryLabarbera.jpgBrodsky was pressing Schaller for more detailed modeling of the VMT impact of reducing the number of government-issued parking placards when Teamsters president Gary LaBarbera, pictured right, cut in with strong objections. LaBarbera didn’t want Schaller or anyone to do any additional modeling — or talking — about government-issued parking permits. I couldn’t quite type fast enough to keep up with him, but this is pretty close to exactly what he said:

Parking permits are a form of compensation for teachers, firefighters and police officers. I don’t believe in employees losing benefits or compensation. We’ve got to think seriously before we talk about taking away this benefit from one segment of our community; teachers, firefighters and police officers.

So, there you have it. Though you won’t find it accounted for in any City budget, spelled out in any City employee contract, or fought over in any recent negotiation, union leadership believes government-issued parking permits are "a form of compensation." Now that LaBarbera’s put it on the table, the City and the unions can finally begin to account for this "form of compensation" and talk about exactly how much of it New York City’s hard-working civil servants are actually owed.

  • Dave

    Sadly RPP is mentioned nowhere with the huge revenue that would bring and the inherent fairness that comes with reserving residential parking for those who register and insure their cars in New York.
    Instead the thought is to raise parking garage rates even higher. This will force people onto the street who can no longer afford to park in a garage, and increase traffic trolling for free on-street parking.
    Reducing the gap between on-street parking and garage parking will put more residents in garages and reduce traffic.
    Like all good politicians they suggest a solution that is 180 degrees from what it should be to have a positive impact.

  • dbs

    If union members were offered a generous public-transit allowance in exchange for turning in their government-issued parking placards, would LaBarbera scorn that offer?

    Of course, the funding for the generous public-transit allowance would draw on revenues from market rate metered parking in those freed-up spaces.

    Is Dr. Shoup still in town?

  • Boogiedown

    Wonder what the IRS thinks about this “form of compensation”.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Cops already ride for free, if they want to, and they don’t. The free parking is more valuable than the free commuter rail or the free transit. Gary may not know that though, there is a long list after all.

  • Jones

    The slide on revoking government worker parking placards is interesting. It’s worth noting that it will generate some revenue since many workers park at meters all day without paying. In addition, the number of placards under consideration there (3,000 – 10,000) represent a small slice of the estimated 150,000 placards currently in use.

  • Mark Fleischmann

    I second Boogiedown’s motion. If it’s compensation, it’s taxable. The value of the compensation could be gauged using the cost of parking in a garage. Then it should be subject to federal, state, and local income taxes.

  • Josh

    What about all the FAKE placards? The photocopies and the like. What about the fact that “we don’t summons our own” or whatever that bullshit was?

  • Ian Turner

    How come Schaller thinks that a cash-out option will not affect VMT? Because of homemade permits, or what?

  • AM

    Wow – yeah, those placards are SOOO taxable and SOOO valuable!

    Think about it: a parking space in a midtown garage can cost $500 a month or more.

    Unlike being restricted to a fixed location in a garage, parking placards let the holder park on the street (convenient!) anywhere in the city with some minor restrictions. (Yeah, let’s pretend for the moment that placard holders comply with those restrictions).

    The value of that perk has to be worth at least double the annual fixed parking space rate. Who would want to cover $12,000 in extra taxable income every year?

  • anon

    They had better be paying taxes on this compensation. Call IRS.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Exempt hybrids.

    If hybrids are exempted, I hope the exemption will include some kind of sunset clause. If, in 2030, half or more of the cars in NYC are hybrids, and those are all exempt from the charge, they’ll still be clogging the streets and running people over, and not paying for transit improvements.

  • rather than the simplistic proposal to exempt hybrids, what should be encouraged is use of cars that get *high gas mileage*. a conventional compact car gets much higher mileage than a hybrid SUV. oops… but that’s not sexy!

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    That’s an interesting idea, Anne. Make it relative so that it always encourages people to buy higher-mileage cars, such as cars whose mileage is above the 90th percentile for all cars bought in the US in the previous year.

    Still, I can imagine a time when mileage will be so high that other factors will be much more important to discourage.

  • as for government employee parking permits, for sure they’re a perk, and not justifiable in the CBD. but if we’re talking about a teacher who drives from east flatbush to work in a “troubled” school in cypress hills, like a friend of mine did during his years in the NYC teaching fellows program, how could i argue that he should spend an hour and a half each way commuting on public transit instead of a 20-minute car ride?

    many people who live and work outside of manhattan face similar no-brainer commuting choices because of huge gaps in the transit system; and most don’t have the option of transferring to a school within walking distance, as my friend eventually did. yes, many government employees abuse their permits and most probably don’t need them to begin with. but before dismissing the idea entirely, one should look at the situation citywide.

  • NB

    Don’t forget that “To keep its $354.5 million federal transportation grant” the plan must also “Include at least an eighteen month operation of congestion pricing;”

    See:
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/10/15/fact-remains-no-congestion-pricing-no-federal-funds/

    Thanks StreetsBlog!

  • Komanoff

    Another exemplary post, Aaron. Way to go.

    Hats off to Boogiedown, too, for this:
    >Wonder what the IRS thinks about this “form of compensation”.

  • Jonathan

    I hate to be the devil’s advocate here, but what’s with the rush to judgment on taxing parking permits as income? I agree with LaBarbera: I don’t believe in anyone losing benefits or compensation. I fully understand that some people may take unscrupulous advantage of those permits, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a benefit and that city taxpayers would pay (through collective bargaining) if it was replaced with cash.

    If permits were taxed as income, Boogiedown, Komanoff, Mark, AM, and anon, the scenario would be even worse. The city would just have to cough up more to make up for it in the next labor negotiations. The net result would be more money heading to Washington for no benefit whatsoever to you or me.

  • fdr

    It’s my understanding that driving a government car to and from work is already technically considered a taxable perk, without even getting into the issue of parking permits. The way everyone gets around it is (1) nobody reports it and (2) if they did, the official excuse is that they are on 24-hour call and use the car for business, not for commuting. If they park at a “government facility” (office building, school, etc.) near their homes instead of in front of their homes, they are considered to be on business.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (if we’re talking about a teacher who drives from east flatbush to work in a “troubled” school in cypress hills)

    It is true that most public employees live and work in locations that make transit trips impractical, since public workplaces were dispersed. When asked to look into this at City Planning, I suggested a dynamic carpool system, with free parking limited to those who were willing to bring others to/from work in the area for the price of a transit ride.

    I wrote about this on Room 8 last year. It could also be a solution for senior citizen mobility in the suburbs.

  • JF

    It is true that most public employees live and work in locations that make transit trips impractical, since public workplaces were dispersed.

    Do you have figures for this?

  • Hilary

    I would like to know how many of these city employees are required to live in the city – and forced to choose a few neighborhoods that are affordable but inaccessible by transit.

  • again, if we’re talking about public employees who work at city hall and use their permits (and government cars) to drive into manhattan and park for free all day in chinatown, no sympathy. but many teachers have situations similar to the one i described above.

  • Chris H

    Hmm…
    I wonder how the models gave such a high reduction for license plate rationing. I would like to see the methodology behind that and if it takes into account induced demand/people buying second cars.

  • JF

    if we’re talking about a teacher who drives from east flatbush to work in a “troubled” school in cypress hills, like a friend of mine did during his years in the NYC teaching fellows program, how could i argue that he should spend an hour and a half each way commuting on public transit instead of a 20-minute car ride?

    many people who live and work outside of manhattan face similar no-brainer commuting choices because of huge gaps in the transit system; and most don’t have the option of transferring to a school within walking distance, as my friend eventually did. yes, many government employees abuse their permits and most probably don’t need them to begin with. but before dismissing the idea entirely, one should look at the situation citywide.

    Anne, I’ve heard this story a lot. At the core, it’s the same as “Older and Wiser”‘s rant about the poor people in Connecticut who bought houses too far from the train. Every time I dig a little deeper, I usually find out one of the following:

    a. the transit commute isn’t nearly as horrible as they made it out to be, especially compared to the car commute

    b. the person could get a similar job with an easier transit commute from their current home, but it might take a bit more effort to find one

    c. the person could move to a place with an easier transit commute to their desired job, maybe it would cost slightly more (but the difference would be less than the cost of owning and maintaining a car), or be in a neighborhood with less of their preferred ethnic mix

    Usually I also find out one or more of the following:

    1. The person already had a car and was used to driving it

    2. The person had spent a significant amount of time looking at car-dependent homes and/or jobs in their search, and not had the opportunity to look at as many transit-friendly homes and/or jobs as if they hadn’t

    3. The person didn’t really care about avoiding car ownership and/or use

    4. The person actually preferred car ownership as a badge of status or for some non-transportation reason

    The bottom line is that in many cases if they’d had the same kind of desire as I do to avoid using a car, they would have, and probably their career and/or quality of life wouldn’t be that much worse for it.

    I’m not judging them for this, but I am saying that I distrust these kinds of stories, and I don’t think that they’re a basis for a sustainable transportation policy. We need to make them (and the people who look for jobs and homes in the future) give a shit about the damage that car-dependent lifestyles do to our city, and not just throw up our hands at their sob stories and say “oh, well the poor outer-borough/suburban commuters.”

    It’s all very well to say “carrots not sticks,” but the same people will turn around and cut carrot funding every time. Not you, Anne, but the people that use your friend as an excuse for doing nothing year after year.

  • Ian Turner

    Jonathan:

    The thing is, taxpayers already pay for the parking perk, through reduced meter income, increased congestion, and all the other public costs of private auto use, all the way from regular road repair to the war in Iraq. Is it so unreasonable to expect the city to account for the giving away of a public resource to a private party as a real, tangible cost?

    To put things in perspective, would you feel the same way if the city gave away parkland to developers to build on? After all, it’s not as though the exchange would cost the city anything…

  • JF, i went to a meeting last week sponsored by pratt center for community development on the topic of transportation equity. most of the people there worked for various social service agencies (not for the city) in queens, the bronx, and brooklyn. when they explained the logistics of their public transit commute (which some had abandoned in favor of driving, for reasons that became painfully obvious, while those who couldn’t afford cars have no choice), it was quite humbling for someone like me who lives three blocks from a reliable subway line. we’re talking about riding two buses, then transferring to a subway (or two), often backtracking because a more direct route doesn’t exist. one person explained that to go from the east to the west side of the bronx requires either a one-hour bus ride (to travel about three miles!) or going into manhattan in order to connect with a different subway line that goes to the other side of the borough. large swaths of queens and brooklyn are as bad or worse.

    these are the kinds of transit inequities that have to be addressed in new york city before we can talk about “sustainable transportation policy”. don’t get me wrong, i want to see more people taking transit (and biking!!) as much as everyone else here, but that is simply not reasonable when the reality is a 20-minute drive versus a 90-minute transit commute, and it REALLY IS. the focus should be on giving EVERY citizen a decent, fast, convenient car-free commute, not just those who can live in transit-privileged neighborhoods.

    while i understand that historically the neighborhoods worst served by transit often made that decision themselves generations ago when the thinking was that any “civilized” person would own a car, those demographics have largely shifted to the point where the neighborhoods with really great transit choices tend overwhelmingly to be the wealthiest.

    and finally, while i agree that car ownership is often part of a general cultural context that values and encourages it, realistically that is not going to change when the alternative is so unattractive and oppressively time-consuming. at that same meeting some pictures were shown of the transmilenio bus rapid transit system in bogota, and there was a palpable excitement in the room. no one expects a new subway line to their doorstep to be built in their lifetime, but a beautiful and efficient bus system that can be created quickly is going to be life-altering for many people in this city if the political will can be found to build it.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Wasn’t there a thing about teachers parking on the playgrounds next to the schools cutting off play and exercise space from the students and public?

  • Mark

    Anne makes a good point but misses a larger one, which is that many city employees make contradictory decisions about where to live and where to work. Either they should move near where they work or they should get a job near where they live. Otherwise, the rest of us pay the price in pollution, congestion, and the health and economic problems they bring. I can see why someone with deep roots in a neighborhood would not want to move; or why someone with a good job would not want to give it up. But they should be willing to live with the disadvantages of their choices without imposing different disadvantages of those who have to breathe the air in NYC.

  • mark, that point would be valid if living further away from work simply meant a few extra subway stops, as it is for someone who moves from midtown to harlem, or from park slope to sunset park. what i’m talking about is people whose commute involves unreliable buses combined with long train rides. and we’re not even talking about waiting for a bus outdoors in the winter, or after dark in an area that’s not safe.

    again, i’m not advocating for driving; what i’m trying to emphasize is the massive transit inequities between different parts of the city, and the need to realistically address them when discussing “sustainable transportation policy”.

  • JF

    while i understand that historically the neighborhoods worst served by transit often made that decision themselves generations ago when the thinking was that any “civilized” person would own a car, those demographics have largely shifted to the point where the neighborhoods with really great transit choices tend overwhelmingly to be the wealthiest.

    Ooo – they’re really not, Anne. I agree with you to a large extent, but transit privilege does not correspond to wealth in any meaningful sense in this city.

    It’s true that some of the neighborhoods with the best transit connections – Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Soho, Tribeca and Greenwich Village, and even Long Island City, Chinatown and Harlem – have gentrified over the past 15-20 years, and some – Brooklyn Heights and um, yeah – have always been wealthy.

    But there are plenty of neighborhoods with great transit connections that haven’t been wealthy in my lifetime. East New York, Gowanus, Jamaica, the shabbier parts of LIC, Jackson Heights, Washington Heights and Inwood, a good chunk of the South Bronx: all served by three or more subway lines, plus commuter trains and express buses. Subway-wise, Crown Heights is no worse off than most of Park Slope, Corona and Hamilton Heights are not much worse than Forest Hills, Bed-Stuy is in just as good shape as Carroll Gardens, Inwood is better served than Midwood.

    Most of the “transit-underprivileged” neighborhoods are pretty wealthy, or solidly middle-class: think Riverdale, Seagate, Fresh Meadows and the southern two-thirds of Staten Island. The exceptions are neighborhoods where the Third Avenue and Myrtle Avenue elevated trains were torn down and the promised subways never buit – and Brownsville, well, I don’t know what’s up with that.

    I know – what you’re talking about are mostly “tangential” trips, from the part of the Bronx served by the D to the part served by the 2, for example. Those are just as crappy for people in the wealthy neighborhoods as for people in the poor neighborhoods; it’s just that the wealthy people who need to take tangential trips can afford a car.

    I’m all for transit improvements, but many of these people are the ones who’ve been blocking funding for transit improvements. A sustainable transportation policy can’t wait for all these people to be served; if the teachers don’t get free parking, maybe Randi Weingarten will put pressure on the Mayor and the Governor to actually fund meaningful BRT/LRT in a reasonable timeframe.

  • Jonathan

    Ian, you completely missed my point.

    Step 1: Mayor & Finance Commissioner declare parking privileges as taxable income with value of $5,000.

    Step 2: Collective bargaining with city unions results in a raise independent from all productivity bargaining of the (for example let’s say 30%) marginal tax levied on that same $5,000, or $150.

    Step 3: City sales tax increased to fund Step 2.

    Step 4: City paychecks include $150 extra withholding, sent directly to IRS.

    Now can you explain without bringing Halliburton, Robert Moses, or Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution into the argument how exactly this benefits you, me or any New Yorker? Remember, we’re still getting the reduced meter use, the extra pollution, and “all the other public costs of private auto use,” because nobody has given up their permits.

  • JF

    That’s kind of a far-fetched scenario, Jonathan, even though 30% of $5000 is actually $1500.

    The unions are not all-powerful. The city can negotiate down any payment proposed by a union.

    The city can also say, “Look at this, we’ve actually been compensating you more than we’ve said in previous negotiations! So I don’t think your raise needs to be as high as it was in the last contract.” They can also say, “let’s have a cash payment for this instead, or actually buy you Metrocards, instead of making you pay for the cards out of your own pre-tax wages.”

    Or the unions can do this themselves. Not all unions are quite so stick-in-the-mud as the Teamsters on this issue; in fact, I’m going to try and lobby the PSC today.

  • DroveACityCarForYears

    Wonder what the IRS thinks about this “form of compensation”.

    The IRS thinks that it’s taxable and requires people to report it as income (both the parking component and the mileage). At least for the “official” permits, the City reports it to the IRS, and it shows up on employees’ W-2’s. I don’t know whether PD W-2’s show the value of the “precinct” permits that have somewhat shadowy legitimacy (and which constitute the majority of placards, and abuse thereof), but in principle this too should be reported to the IRS. If there’s a cop lurking here, he/she might chime in …

  • srock

    As per JF and Anne’s conversation: I agree that there should be far less commuting by car by government employees, and that that goal could and should be tackled by taking away government parking permits. Anne’s point on commute time may be valid, although she does not give much time to talking about biking as a legitimate alternative. My guess is that in the two examples she gave, biking would be faster than both public transit and a car, and I know several teachers that bike to their jobs every day.

    Secondly, taking away government parking permits would have a much smaller effect on people who commute by car to neighborhoods poorly served by public transit than it would for other parts of the city. Most of the neighborhoods in New York with the worst parking are commercial areas also served by the best pubic transit: for example Downtown Brooklyn, Downtown Manhattan, and Midtown Manhattan. Eliminating government parking permits could have a big effect in these areas, and not horribly inconvenience those who need to drive to remoter areas in the outer boroughs.

  • WM

    For every story about the social worker, cop, fireman who ABSOLUTELY HAS TO DRIVE think about the lady in the hairnet dishing out lunch at the school cafeteria, the guy who takes out the garbage, the show-up-at-7am babysitter, the minimum wage security guard — and every other working class hero who some how makes do by taking the bus and the subway. Lots of people have to get to work at inconvenient times and in places far from home. Almost all of them take the bus or subway. These placard holders are out of control with their sense of entitlement. Millions of people are busting their asses at crappy jobs making much less then these princes and princesses. They would be happy to have a high paying city job, let alone a placard. Junk all placards. They are a stupid, expensive perk.

  • Jonathan

    JF, I agree with you that municipal labor negotiations are not simply exercises where the city takes what the unions offer. And I’m only discussing legal permits here, not the numerous illegal ones. But those negotiations encompass many issues related to productivity and conditions of work, and I don’t think the parking issue can be easily disentangled from the other ones. And from a more pessimistic viewpoint, I suspect that the chief labor negotiators on either side are not anxious to bring up another point of contention in the negotiations.

  • ddartley

    I hate the idea of exempting hybrids.

    That would make a loud statement that this–this bold avant garde of a greater environmental movement (and I know it’s not just an environmental effort) that traffic mitigation could be–was deciding that nothing greater, with a longer view, can be done to get us less dependent on ALL cars.

    Because hybrid, zero emissions, or whatever–cars are still bad for the environment and public health and safety in lots of ways, not the least of which is that they spread populations out geographically. It’s stupid.

    And more immediately, even a hybrid, waiting to enter near the Lincoln Tunnel, helps bring to a standstill all the other non-hybrids around it, which then spend more time spewing heat and poison.

    Hybrids still congest, is what I’m saying, rather verbosely. Don’t exempt them.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Glad to see that I at least make the cut around here. Thank you for the gratuitous dig…it makes me feel so special.

    However, as I knew from the gitgo, my plan contained several elements that are in fact beyond the narrowly defined purview of the Sham commision.

    for the record, two of my plan’s 9 elements did in fact “make the cut” (raising parking costs and the added taxi stands).

    However, when CP goes down in flames, I will continue to press my plan, which i hope will have the votes at least to pass the City Council.

    Stay tuned.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Thank you for the gratuitous dig…it makes me feel so special.

    Any time, Lew 😉

  • Concerned Parent

    (It is true that most public employees live and work in locations that make transit trips impractical, since public workplaces were dispersed…Do you have figures for this?)

    Not handy, but the only source for it is 2000 census journey to work or PUMS data, since other data series assign the entire workforce of government agencies to the (Manhattan) headquarters. This was analyzed based on 1990 data back when I was at City Planning.

    Just think of how many subway yards, police precincts, public schools, and public hospitals are in the outer boroughs, and how many people who work in them live in the outer boroughs or the suburbs. At transit, there is a different “pick” with transit workers re-assigned every few months. If you start your shift at the yard or bus depot nearby, good for you. But lots of transit workers live in the burbs, and the majority drive.

    There isn’t going to be a bus from Dix Hills to Morrisania. Carpool is the best option.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The MTA, like much of the debate here, is Manhattan centered, movement about the periphery is not even a secondary consideration. Some local bus routes can move around the boroughs but for all practical commuting purposes around the center cars are the only alternative. I used to bike from Brighton Beach to Jamaica to work, but the mass transit trip on the bad weather days was two hours each way. Thats a lot for 13 miles.

  • that’s exactly the problem that has to be addressed in any serious discussion about “sustainable transportation policy”. since more and more people have been priced out of manhattan completely (especially low and middle-income people), and many workplaces were not there to begin with, public transit (and the bike network) has to evolve a LOT to serve all these people.

  • JF

    Just think of how many subway yards, police precincts, public schools, and public hospitals are in the outer boroughs, and how many people who work in them live in the outer boroughs or the suburbs. At transit, there is a different “pick” with transit workers re-assigned every few months. If you start your shift at the yard or bus depot nearby, good for you. But lots of transit workers live in the burbs, and the majority drive.

    And we agree that that’s idiotic, right? In a town where transit runs around the clock, to have the transit staff driving? A bus driver who’s been behind the wheel for ten hours straight, I do not want to see him or her then get into their own car and get back on the road to drive back to Dix Hills(!).

    This is idiotic, it’s unsustainable, we don’t want to encourage it. Fer chrissakes, stop telling me that we’ve got to appease and accommodate these people and their foolish choices, and tell me how we can improve the outer-borough transit system, or else get them to move their houses or their jobs so that they can take transit like reasonable human beings.

    I’m sick of hearing one sob story after another about Sally who lives in New City and can’t depend on the bus. Well why the fuck does Sally live in New City and work in Brooklyn? Is that my problem? Why should I have to subsidize Sally’s parking space and road facilities with my tax dollars, when Joe who lives half an hour away on the B54 bus can get there without a parking space?

  • ams

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding and/or missing something here…

    … but I’m not sure that I understand why, in discussions about Traffic Mitigation in the Central Business District, it’s relevant to address parking permits for government employees who do NOT enter into the CBD for work puposes.

    Yes, they are a factor in regional transportation policy… and yes, the public transit options for tangential trips are terrible. Nonetheless, aren’t the above slideshow and related policy ideas limited to the CBD? Is anyone really trying to take away placards from someone like Annie’s friend who is first referenced in post #14?

    There are many ways to modify the parking placard system to allow for tangential trips in the outer boroughs while still addressing issues of traffice reduction and abuse in the CBD. I’m sure that some of these will be addressed in the new frenzy for parking reform.

    With that said, I haven’t seen a serious proposal to do away with the placard system entirely – please let me know if I’m wrong. In the meantime, it might be helpful to avoid getting sucked into debates over anecdotal evidence that doesn’t really apply to the policies at hand.

  • JF

    Thanks for refocusing the discussin, Ams. Anne’s comment is definitely tangential to the previous discussion of congestion pricing and parking permits. Still, it was a useful discussion to have.

    And I am absolutely trying to take away Anne’s friend’s permit. I’m riding my bike down to Flatbush right now! Seriously, I don’t want to get rid of them immediately, but I do want to see them phased out over the next ten years. These permits are most definitely part of the problem. They create a class of government workers who have a complete windshield perspective on the city and are thus very likely to oppose any transit improvements and promote the building and preservation of roads and parking. They also patronize car-oriented businesses and buy car-oriented real estate.

    And honestly, I’m not much happier to have people driving through my neighborhood to get from Westchester to Brooklyn or Suffolk to the Bronx than I am to have them driving through here to get to Manhattan.

  • CC

    Before people get bent out of shape over the so-called loss of benefits such as parking placards, let’s consider who gets them and who really needs them. Or where they should be valid. Why should the general public have to contend with blatant misuse of a perk such as immunity parking. If cops get some extra parking space around their precinct, so be it. Not much we can do about that, cops being cops. But there’s no reason why they- or firefighters or teachers or anyone else- should get a free ride for parking in bike lanes, parking in metered spots without paying, etc. all over the city. Enough is enough.

    It’s time to revisit just how far this perk should go and it’s time to recognize that abuse of parking privelages is a serious issue- AND impedement to rational solutions to some of the city’s traffic woes. As a taxpayer, I’d rather pay some incrememental increase to financially compensate these city workers for their ‘lost’ benefit than continue to subsidize their continued disregard of public regulations.

  • Hilary

    Police and fire parking privileges should be limited to one precinct/fire house only, and while they’re on duty. As it is now, the placards (and their copies) are free parking passes used by their friends and families all over the city. I know, because someone tried to give me one as a “thank you.” When I said I would be honored to frame it, but couldn’t use it, she (spouse) snatched it back and said “oh no, it’s too valuable to do that!”

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Congestion Pricing: What’s the Deal?

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Nobody knows whether the convoluted and difficult congestion pricing "deal" reached by political leaders yesterday will actually result in anything. The deal is complex even by Albany standards. A few things, however, are clear: Mayor Bloomberg does not have a "green light" to move forward with congestion pricing, nor has he been granted any new […]

US DOT Gives NYC $354 Million for Congestion Pricing Plan

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Sewell Chan at City Room has this morning’s news. Here are some excerpts from his report: The secretary of transportation announced this morning that the federal government will provide New York City with $354 million to implement congestion pricing in New York City, if the State Legislature acts by March 2008 to put in effect […]

Traffic Mitigation Commission Meeting Pre-Spin

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Ahead of this afternoon’s opening meeting of the 17-member Traffic Mitigation Commission, the Campaign for New York’s Future sends along a press release noting two recent studies about the impact of traffic congestion on the region’s health and economy: NEW YORK, September 25, 2007 – The following may be attributed to Michael O’Loughlin, Director of […]

Three Concrete Proposals for New York City Traffic Relief

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This Morning’s Forum: Road Pricing Worked in London. Can It Work in New York? Three specific proposals to reduce New York City’s ever-increasing traffic congestion emerged from a highly anticipated Manhattan Institute forum this morning. One seeks variable prices on cars driving in to central Manhattan, with express toll lanes and higher parking fees to keep things […]

The NBBL Files: Norman Steisel’s Ideas Became Jimmy Vacca’s Bills

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Editor’s note: With yesterday’s appellate ruling prolonging the Prospect Park West case, Streetsblog is running a refresher on the how the well-connected gang of bike lane opponents waged their assault against a popular and effective street safety project. This is the fourth installment from the six-part NBBL Files. This piece originally ran on October 11, 2011. This is […]