Congestion Pricing Plan Advancing Rapidly

Sewell Chan at the New York Times’ Empire Zone has more on this morning’s meeting between Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Spitzer and US Dept. of Transportation secretary Mary Peters:

Mr. Spitzer said at a news conference this morning, "There will always be some congestion and the good news is there is economic growth and there’s vitality in the city." The goal, he said, is to mitigate the effects of congestion. The governor appeared swayed by the mayor’s arguments that the plan would help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority: "I would just reinforce the mayor’s point about the enormity of the capital investments that will be made in the mass transportation system over the next decade. These are decade-long investments, but they will be enormous."

Dire warnings about the authority’s precarious finances have come at a politically convenient time for the mayor, who since April has been waging an uphill battle to persuade Albany of the merits of his congestion pricing proposal. The mayor said yesterday that the fees from charging drivers in Manhattan’s most heavily trafficked areas would be a boon for public transit and could potentially help delay, or minimize the impact of, a fare increase.

That the Mayor is using the MTA fiscal crisis to push congestion pricing should not be a surprise to Streetsblog readers.

So far it looks like a big victory for the mayor – and another step in a remarkable turnaround for the Bloomberg administration. Fresh after his re-election victory in 2005, The Times reported that Mr. Bloomberg would use his political capital to advance bold ideas like congestion pricing. The administration quickly backed off, with Edward Skyler, its top spokesman, insisting that congestion pricing was not on the mayor’s second-term agenda.

A "remarkable turnaround?" We’ll second that.

More coverage here at NY1.

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