45% of New Yorkers Receptive to a Congestion Charge

The congestion charging policy roll-out is officially on the move. Today the Tri-State Transportation Campaign released the findings of a detailed telephone survey conducted last spring in an effort to learn more about how New Yorkers feel about traffic congestion and the idea of making motorists pay more to drive in to the most gridlocked parts of the city. Download TSTC’s report here (PDF). See an excerpt below.

For a sense of why this issue is so sensitive and why the transportation policy community is rolling it out so carefully, check out the lead of today’s Daily News story:

Traffic is so bad that a lot of New Yorkers think there should be more tolls.

While the rest of the News story covers TSTC’s report in a fairly straightforward way, Pete Donohue (or his editor), chose to lead with the scary and the negative — "more tolls." You can imagine Joe Sixpack coming away from this article with images of tollbooths erected along 59th Street. The trick for advocates is going to be to get New Yorkers to come away from articles like these thinking about a faster drive through Midtown, his children not getting asthma, more money for better transit, and most of all — the idea that New York City’s traffic congestion is not an immutable force of nature — it’s a solvable problem.

It’s going to be a huge challenge to get the city’s tabloid media to control its knee-jerk "More Tolls!!?!" reflex and focus on the benefits that people are clamoring for in neighborhoods across the city — less traffic, improved quality of life, better transit, smarter growth, and a healthier city to live, work and raise children. Perhaps it is a good thing that increasing numbers of New Yorkers are turning to blogs for their news, information and analysis.

From the study:

congestion_opinions2.jpg

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