This Weekend, NYC’s Traffic Dysfunction Gets Worse

As of this weekend, driving over the free East River bridges will be a bigger bargain for drivers, adding to NYC’s traffic dysfunction. Map: ##http://www.samschwartz.com/Portals/0/PDF/MNY012913.pdf##Sam Schwartz##

In case you missed it, Crain’s ran a good piece today wherein “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz explained one of the less-publicized effects of the MTA fare and toll hikes slated to take effect this weekend. NYC’s already-dysfunctional road pricing system is about to make even less sense.

With tolls on the MTA’s East River crossings going up in each direction, the incentive for drivers to take the free Queensboro, Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn Bridges is about to intensify. Schwartz told Crain’s to expect a lot more toll-shopping drivers on streets that are already choked by traffic:

“Today I would estimate 50,000 cars, trucks and buses [crossing the free bridges]. On Monday, I’m estimating 60,000—another 10,000 will switch, and only aggravate the situation at the free bridges,” Mr. Schwartz said. “They vote not with their feet, they vote with their tires.”

“What we have is a bridge like the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge sandwiched between two toll crossings—the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Triborough Bridge,” he said. “And every time there’s a toll increase, more and more drivers hop off the Long Island Expressway at Van Dam Street to avoid going straight ahead to the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and then they just saturate the streets of Sunnyside and Long Island City, snaking their way to the lower level or the upper level of the Queensboro Bridge.”

To add to the Queensboro Bridge example, in addition to the western Queens neighborhoods that have to put up with all the extra congestion, exhaust, and honking on their streets, bus riders will get the short end of the stick. Every day 16,000 bus passengers ride over the Queensboro Bridge. Their trips are going to get more sluggish and unreliable after this weekend.

Until the governor and other electeds step in to fix NYC’s broken road pricing system, the dysfunction will only get worse.

  • Ian Turner

    Maybe we should start routing busses through the midtown tunnel?

  • The MTA does run a lot of express buses through the QMT, mostly westbound. Here’s the Cap’n Transit post about other routing they could do through the tunnel:

    http://capntransit.blogspot.com/2009/01/gioia-calls-for-midtown-tunnel-bus.html

  • The MTA does run a lot of express buses through the QMT, mostly westbound. Here’s the Cap’n Transit post about other routing they could do through the tunnel:

    http://capntransit.blogspot.com/2009/01/gioia-calls-for-midtown-tunnel-bus.html

  • I wrote the other day about the utter illogicality of the pricing of road use in New York City: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2013/02/subway-fares-gas-tax-and-why-its-too.html Subway fares remain low enough that I’m not at all sure that as a cyclist riding in from Brooklyn to midtown I save any money. But subway fares have to be held down to uneconomically low levels to keep down demand to use cars, use of which in New York City is far too cheap to cover the substantial costs that cars impose.

    So on Monday I’ll be cycling through still-heavier congestion in TriBeCa between the Brooklyn Bridge and Hudson River, solely because the state and city are content to let an entirely illogical funding position persist.

  • Anonymous

    Queens midtown should be free, while Queensboro bridge should have a toll (assuming 1 is going to be tolled and 1 free.)
    The tunnel connects directly with 495 on the queens side, avoiding the backup of traffic in surface streets that occurs from bridge spillover.

  • Adam Anon

    The express busses already go through QMT in the morning, so the trip is quick in the morning (30-45mins). But in the afternoon the go over the Queensboro Bg and the ride is much longer, around 1:30, often maddening, often up to two hours.

  • Adam Anon

    The express busses already go through QMT in the morning, so the trip is quick in the morning (30-45mins). But in the afternoon the go over the Queensboro Bg and the ride is much longer, around 1:30, often maddening, often up to two hours.

  • cerb

    Let them build two more bridges or break the New York City Charter made to form New York City a hundred years ago. allow Queens to become the city of Queen, Brooklyn to become the great city of Brooklyn once again allow the Bronx to become Bronx county. This way we can solve this problem of illegal criminal taxation through tolls on the citizenry who own the damn bridges and own the damn Boros. The government is like a management company in the building they just run it and maintain it they do not own it we do.

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