T.A.: City, State Parking Drive Would Torpedo Taxi Initiative

The increase in CO2 caused by over 20,000 parking spaces sought by the city would "effectively take away
more than one-third of the gains" promised by Mayor Bloomberg’s hybrid cab plan.

As previously reported on Streetsblog, the city and state are currently teaming up to bring some 20,000 new parking spaces to Manhattan’s far West Side, and are fighting a lawsuit that stands in their way.

Two weeks ago, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation scheduled a hearing on its proposal to alter the Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (SIP). The change would accommodate the city by removing references to — and, consequently, restrictions on — parking from the SIP. The hearing had to be postponed when state officials didn’t show, but Transportation Alternatives has posted testimony, based in part on a study by Streetsblog contributor Charles Komanoff, countering the claim that the city’s falling carbon monoxide numbers are somehow reason enough to green-light a huge increase in parking inventory.

In its single-minded focus on CO, the Administration’s SIP revision ignores other criteria pollutants such as PM 2.5 (fine particulates) and ozone, levels of which are above than the federally mandated attainment levels for the region, to the severe detriment of the health, environment, and quality of life of New Yorkers.

Further, by dismantling a policy that has reduced the incentive to drive personal vehicles on the most congested city streets — a policy developed to achieve the goals of the Clean Air Act — the Administration is setting itself on a collision course with the admirable long-term sustainability goals that New York City has committed to under PlaNYC 2030.

T.A. commissioned KEA to estimate the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that will result from the auto trips that will be generated by the additional 23,000 parking spaces. With a very conservative estimate of just 1 vehicle round-trip per commercial space, and accounting for residential and mixed-use spaces, the additional parking would lead to the production of an additional 129,000 annual tons of CO2. For reference, this increase in CO2 will effectively take away more than one-third of the gains promised by Mayor Bloomberg’s innovative plan unveiled yesterday (May 22) to more than double the mileage efficiency of every medallion taxicab in the city.

Photo: Brad Aaron

  • count the parking

    Streetsblog, please correct this story and headline. According to a correction in the comment section of yesterday’s piece on this, the city proposes to add a total of 27,400 new parking spots to Hells Kitchen. The “additional” 23,000 spots being proposed are beyond the current zoning allowance, which would add “only” 4,400 spots to what is currently there. T.A.’s testimony refers to the additional 23,000 spots because the 4,400 are allowed under current rules and nothing can be done about them.

  • Brad Aaron

    Count – The stories refer only to the ‘additional’ 20,000+ spaces because, as you say, they are what is in play here. But the spaces currently (or previously) allowed are of course worth noting. We are planning additional stories on this, including one in which we ‘count the parking.’

  • Count the parking

    I’d argue that every story should use the full number of 27,400 to emphasize the enormous magnitude of what is being proposed here. Also, call it 23,000 instead of 20,000. Three thousand spots is not a trivial amount of parking.

  • Small Business Owner

    A very powerful way to reduce BOTH on-street parking and driving in the city would be to tax advertising on vehicles. For a small business, there is no cheaper way to advertise than to wrap your car or van and just cruise and park. Feed the tolls, feed the meters, feed the gas tank — they’re all chump change compared to the value of the eyeballs on NYC streets. I leave it to you to figure out how to assess this levy equitably..

  • Brad Aaron

    Count – The latest figure cited by the HKNA, the plaintiff in the lawsuit that is the subject of Streetsblog’s coverage so far, is ‘over 20,000’ new spaces. Other materials I have seen puts the number as high as 30,000. T.A. estimates 23,000. The number of spaces currently allowed also varies depending on the source. As I said, we are hoping to clear this up in future stories.

  • Count the parking

    Good work Brad. Stay on it. This is an important story and comes when the greens are distracted by congestion pricing.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    For reference, this increase in CO2 will effectively take away more than one-third of the gains promised by Mayor Bloomberg’s innovative plan

    I don’t have the numbers handy, but if you add in the parking garages planned for Yankee Stadium, Atlantic Yards, the BAM Cultural District and the Duffield Street hotels, how much of the gains does that offset?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Oh yeah, in my own borough, the parking planned for Silvercup West, Queens Plaza and the numerous Downtown Flushing projects, and the ultimately increased parking for Shea StadiumCitifield. Have we neutralized the taxi gains entirely yet?

  • Pat

    This story assumes that in 2012 only taxis will be hybrid while everyone else will still be driving conventional fueled vehicles. That is patently erroneous. Secondly, the CO emissions savings will be measured against the current taxifleet of Crown Victorias. The city currently mandates that its leased vehicles are hybrid. If Bloomberg had mandated that taxis follow suit by say next year, then I would actually be impressed. But 2012…this is not even a story, just political frou frou.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Well, I’d also be interested in projections of how many people could be expected to die in car crashes if the 23-27,000 parking spaces are built vs. if the thing were built without off-street parking, or with “only” 4,500 spaces.


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