Driving to the Hospital Is Already Expensive

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Adding an $8 congestion fee to already steep parking rates will speed trips for vehicles that really need to get to the hospital.

On Monday, Rohit Aggarwala explained to City Council members that most New Yorkers would have an easier time getting to the hospital if congestion pricing takes effect. Here’s another reason not to grant a congestion fee exemption for hospital trips. Assuming you follow the advice of most hospitals and don’t waste time trolling for an on-street spot, driving to a major medical facility inside the proposed congestion zone is already an expensive proposition.

A four-hour stint at Beth Israel’s parking facility costs $23. At NYU Medical Center’s garage, the price is $24, according to BestParking.com. St. Vincent’s? $25. (And no, you can’t get it validated.) Bellevue is cheaper — $12 — but only 7-10 visitors park there each day, according to a hospital spokesman.

This price range is representative of the going rate for four hours of parking at any garage south of 60th Street, which varies from $18 to $42.

Are cost-conscious New Yorkers — whom pricing foes claim will be hit hard by the fee — driving to hospitals and paying these parking fees in significant numbers? Not at Bellevue. "I would say the vast majority of visitors get here by transit," said the Bellevue spokesman. "There are access vans dropping people off, a steady stream of cabs, the crosstown bus. The subway is five blocks away." All these trips will be speedier thanks to congestion pricing.

Photo: tom_hoboken/Flickr

  • All these trips will be speedier thanks to congestion pricing.

    Even speedier if we ever get phase two of the Second Avenue Subway built. Or even if congestion pricing can pay for Select Bus on First Avenue.

  • Moser

    Hospital parking fees probably an easier target for the likes of McCaffrey and friends — newfound friends of hospital-goers — except that it’s the parking industry bankrolling them and so they won’t touch this.

  • momos

    Excellent post, Streetsblog.

    This is further evidence that populist anti-CP claims aren’t backed up by real world facts.

    Making exemptions for hospital trips sounds great: who wants to appear unfriendly to the sick? But who actually drives to the hospital? People who can afford $24 parking. Those aren’t Chevys, as Brodsky would say; those are Mercedes. Let them pay the $8 bucks like anyone else, and invest the revenue in transportation for the rest of New Yorkers.

  • Stacy

    OK I live below 14th Street and I can’t imagine driving to the hospital. If it’s an emergency I’d sooner take a cab, call an ambulance, or even walk to St. Vincent’s or Beth Israel. Who would ever want to risk getting stuck in traffic if you’re not well?

  • South Slope

    OK I live in Brooklyn … and I confess I’ve driven (more accurately been driven) to Manhattan hospitals for treatment not available closer to home. There really aren’t any direct public transit links between here and Memorial Sloan Kettering, NYU or Mt. Sinai. It’s not much of a choice: but really, I’d rather risk getting stuck in traffic in a car than in a subway tunnel or on a bus when I’m not well. I’m pro-congestion pricing by the way (at least on a trial basis). If Manhattan’s healthcare institutions want to continue to draw clientele from the surrounding region, they may have to take a more active role in planning ways to move sick people in and out of the zone. (As they are becoming more involved in arranging for affordable housing for the staffs on the island, as the NYT reported earlier this week.)

  • J. Mork

    I will never understand people who can afford a car but can’t afford $8 extra to go to the hospital. Perhaps these people need to sell their cars to get some cash for taxis!

    (Also, what about majority of people in NYC who don’t own a car? Why don’t I hear people crying about how are they going to get the hospital?)

  • momos

    No surprise, the conservative and reactionary NYPD & FDNY oppose CP:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2008/03/police-fire-unions-come-out-ag.html

    What with the obscene parking rates officers must pay, especially in Lower Manhattan, the $8 charge is just too much…

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Now I’ve been staying out of the conversations about CP since I have nothing at stake but I’ve got one major point that I haven’t heard anybody make that I’ve been dying to get out (no pun intend as you will see).

    CP would be a literal godsend for emergency services. How often have we all seen emergency vehicles totally stuck in traffic trying to respond to a call or get someone to a hospital. It happens all the time in my New Jersey town renown for it two premier hospitals and congestion here is usually rather minimal.

    DAMN IT!! This is a direct way that CP could help save lives and I haven’t seen anyone bring this up yet.

    In fact, I feel that the unions that represent the police, firefighters and EMTs should be supporting CP based on the potential ability to save lives; some of which could be their own.

    Heck! There must have been at least one situation (if not many) already where a downed officer has died because backup was stuck in traffic and/or the ambulance got stuck getting to the hospital.

    And finally the system set up to administer CP could probably help lock-down and clear traffic in lower Manhattan if there ever was another terrorist attack.

    Please, someone! Run with this.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Wow! #7 slipped in right before my post.

    I guess the cops and firefighters care more about cheap/free parking than their own lives and the lives of those they are sworn to protect.

    Now someone at TA / StreetsBlog has got to run with my point!

    Radio 1: OFFICER DOWN!! OFFICER DOWN!!

    Radio 2: We’ll be there as soon as we can but we’re stuck in traffic!

    Radio 1: Come quick… There’s so much blood. I can’t hold on much longer… I… I… God please help…. me… (Radio 1 goes silent)

  • If you are more cynic you can also argue it is about job security, at least with the FDNY: less congestion means that in case of emergency the can reach larger areas around the firehouse in the usual benchmark times meaning that potentially more firehouses could be consolidated …

  • Hilarious and Yet Sad

    So, this guy “ManhattanDowntowner” who has been posting the rants about police parking placard abuse here on Streetsblog — look what he posted on the Daily Politics comments upon hearing news of the police and fire unions opposition to congestion pricing:

    This is further proof that congestion pricing is simply not ready. It’s time to give it the axe…

    Earth to ManhattanDowntowner: The cops are opposed to congestion pricing because it’s the only policy they’ve ever seen or heard of that might actually get them to stop bringing their freakin cars into Lower Manhattan every day.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Interesting point Michael in #10. But how many firehouses are in the CP Zone compared to the city as a whole? It can’t be more than 15% or 20% of the total number in all of the 5 boroughs so I don’t know how much consolidation CP could warrant if it really did help improve response times. Plus Lower Manhattan is still the densest part of the city so their will always be a need for more firefighting services per unit area in this part of the city compared to the rest.

  • Dave

    So you think the FDNY will only want CP exemptions for the 15-20% of their workers impacted by the fee? Guess again.

    The NYPD and FDNY see free parking wherever-whenever as part of their compensation and they will complain bitterly that they should be forced to pay a fee for “ordinary citizens”.

    I hope Bloomberg steps up to the plate and at least nixes their exemption; $8 is a fair price to pay if you are going to park for free for the entire day.

    But then again I make a lot more than the $25k the poor recruits make..but to be honest I doubt they can afford to own a car.

  • Had Enough with Civil Servants

    You know they all get free metro cars too, don’t you? It’s really outrageous that they get BOTH.

  • Had Enough with Civil Servants

    Ha ha. Meant to say metro CARDS of course.

  • Spud Spudly

    The hospital parking fee is deductible on your taxes, as are the gas and tolls you pay for the trip to and from the hospital. I know, I’ve deducted them. So if you can claim that stuff then the cost is really less than Streetsblog says.

  • drose

    Spud,

    You can only deduct those fees if your total medical expenses, after all insurance reimbursements, is greater than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. And even then, you can only deduct those amounts above that threshold. It will take some heavy medical bills or many trips by car to the Manhattan hospitals to reach that level for most families in the city.

  • I am firing Streetsblog as my tax accountant. But can’t you also deduct a congestion charge, or subway fares, or taxi fares, so that the deduction itself would not alter the relative costs nor challenge the premise of the post?

  • I am hiring drose as my tax accountant.

  • Jane S.

    Has free parking for cops and firemen ever been subjected to an EIS or any kind of enviro review as part of Clean Air Act compliance? It produces lots of driving into the CBD restricted zone.

  • Spud Spudly

    I know that drose — like I said, I’ve deducted them. That’s also why I wrote, “So if you can claim that stuff….”

    SSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! JANE S! You just said the dirty acronym on Streetsblog! Nobody wants to mention “EIS” here because nobody’s done one for the CP plan.

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