Daily News to Congestion Pricing Opponents: “Your Fault”

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With higher gas prices pushing drivers onto the city’s trains and buses, the Daily News today blasted Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Dems for passing up the billions of dollars that congestion pricing would have brought to MTA coffers. 

The trends prove that the theory of congestion pricing was valid: When the cost of driving rises, people actually do switch to mass transit.

Had Silver and the Assembly passed congestion pricing, as the City Council did, the MTA would already be using that $354 million in federal aid (which has now been disbursed about the country) to make more bus and subway seats available.

Then, the congestion fee would have given the MTA a half-billion dollars a year to pay for big projects like completing the Second Ave. subway and extending LIRR service to Grand Central Terminal. When that money vanished, the MTA’s building plan was eviscerated.

The agency does not have the money it needs to keep the transit system in good repair, let alone to expand. Gov. Paterson has asked the estimable Richard Ravitch, a former MTA chairman, to hunt up cash.

He’ll find no easy fixes. Option 1: Raise taxes. Option 2: Raise fares. Option 3: Congestion pricing.

Pricing foes must be waiting for Ravitch to make the next move, because we’ve heard virtually nothing from them since the plan was smothered behind closed doors over a month ago — other than demands for improved transit service.

But what of Brodsky, Glick, and Weiner? Or Bearak and McCaffrey? Where are they now that their storied working class drivers, priced out of their cars, must rely on a beleaguered transit system that doesn’t have the fiscal boost promised by congestion pricing?

Oh, right. They’re stuck in traffic.

Graphic: New York Daily News 

  • I think they were just happy to see this fade into the background. But the frustration and resentment will only grow over time.

    I would not just hold the opposition accountable. Where were our supporters? They did not go to bat for NYC. They were nominally in favor, but did not make the strong case necessary for action to have been taken.

    And as for the livable streets Plan B so far, it’s mostly unfunded and also needs some state legislative approval for enforcement cameras. It’s a nice plan, but that’s all it is right now. Same as the MTA capital plan.

    Oh wait, you forgot about the Rockaway ferry – I think they have a couple of hundred people or so… up infinity %. Viability TBD

  • Larry Littlefield

    Don’t worry, when service collapses those numbers will be going down.

    Transit ridership has soared in South Florida, I read today, but they are thinking of cutting service by one-third on weekdays and eliminating it on weekends as a result of the fiscal collapse.

    People have to adjust their expectations to what the older generations now in charge have done to us, and continue to do to us. They don’t want to pay, and in the public sector they want to work and contribute as little as possible (age 55 max), but they want more and more for themselves, and borrow to get it.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Larry, can we have a little less doom and gloom and a bit more of something people can do to change the situation?

  • Spud Spudly

    Pardon me, but aren’t all these increases in ridership pushing up revenues??????????

  • MrManhattan

    Just speaking anecdotally I would say that the increase in Metro North ridership is reaching capacity for their current schedule (which needs to be expanded, both in the number of trains at peak, and more off-hours). I visit often in both New Haven and Hudson line towns and the increase in ridership is noticeable.

    Possibly the biggest logistical (after their insufficient schedule) problem Metro North has is the lack of parking at the stations. As far as I know, only New Rochelle and Stamford have multi-level parking. Most stations on that line have a waiting list and pretty stiff fees to park. Expanding available parking (and more frequent service) would almost certainly boost ridership.

    I did find it amusing that the biggest increase in ridership was in the most “American” (ie car owning) borough of Staten Island, and the smallest increases in the other boroughs of NYC. I guess they’re figuring out what we already knew.

    And Larry, South Florida????

    Not only irrelevant, but also EEEWWWWWWWWWW!

  • Mark

    Spud, I think the average mass transit system gets only a third of its revenues from fares. The other two-thirds have to come from…somewhere else. Basically, you can’t have a transit system without gov’t funding. And that takes leadership.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Larry, can we have a little less doom and gloom and a bit more of something people can do to change the situation?)

    A) As a matter of social policy: get rid of every incumbent member of the state legislature, replacing them with those prepared to take radical steps on generational equity grounds, and for the benefit of consumers of public services rather than producers of those services, reversing the current trend.

    I’m not kidding. We’ve gone beyond the capacity for incremental change to get us out of this. By “radical steps” I mean that at least where the government is concerned, people in equal situations should be treated equally, and all existing privileges should not only be eliminted but paid back.

    B) Personally, prepare for life with degraded public services and benefits and higher taxes. This is likely to occur before most people realize what is going on and bother with A), and seems inevitable because those in charge will keep bestowing future revenues on themselves while deferring costs until that point.

    I’ve personally done all I could to achieve A). It didn’t amount to much.

    As for B, if you can ride a bicycle to work, or to the subway line that is working, you are ahead of the game.

    If you are happy living with less, you are ahead of the game also.

    If you don’t mind doing things that benefit other people and are heathly enough to continue working well into your 70s, you’ll be better off — you’ll need the income to pay taxes for the leisure of those who retire (officially) at 55 on your dime.

    With all the tax dollars going to the retirees, and decent schools available only to those with “placards,” perhaps some kind of supported homeschooling will be necessary.

    Etc.

  • Josh

    MrManhattan, I also was amused by the Staten Island Railway numbers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    FYI, for anyone willing to walk one-third of a mile from Tompkinsville Station to St. George Station, or for anyone just using it to travel from station to station anywhere but St. George, the Staten Island Railroad is free.

    The Staten Island Ferry is also free.

    Someone with a folding bike could take the train all the way from Tottenville to Tompkinsville, get off, bike the three minutes to St. George, hop the ferry, and ride to work for nothing.

  • Ace

    NJ Transit?

    Just from personal observation on a reverse commute maybe up 5%.

  • They are putting in the turnstiles at all the train stations on the Staten Island Railroad now.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    The Staten Island Railroad is free?!?!

    You must be F’in’ with me!

    Huh! I checked it out and can’t believe it. Was the passenger use to go to stations other than the St. George Terminal so low it never warranted it till now?

    If only the Tottenville Ferry to Perth Amboy still ran…

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Actually, and hopefully more precisely Spud, the increased ridership is pushing up fare box operating ratio and fare box recover ratio, two critical indicators of transit efficiency. It is also, unfortunately, pushing up standing room as well, pissing off the riders.

  • Must’ve missed the reference to where I am now. Walter pointed it out to me. Funny thing is I’ve continued to promote more effective financing alternatives. A recent example includes a statement issued May 1. As one of my favorite former public servants liked to say: “Stay tuned.”

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    You mean this proposal to continue the sales tax?

    http://www.queensciviccongress.org/Media/files/2008/2008-05-01_Sales_Tax_for_Transit.pdf

    Not as good as taxing the dangerous bridge traffic, but better than nothing.

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