112,000 Less Cars

Here are more points from Friday’s PlaNYC Hearing

  • Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff estimated congestion pricing would remove 112,000 cars from city streets on a daily basis, with 94,000 would-be drivers switching to transit, in what he said would be "Probably the single greatest mode shift anywhere."
  • DOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Schaller said that whatever edge effect might be felt would be countered by removing 112,000 cars from traffic.
  • Using existing E-ZPass technology, congestion pricing fees would be enforced by employing one camera per lane at 300 to 340 stations.
  • Assembly Member Richard Brodsky more than once referred to congestion pricing as a "regressive tax," and seemed fixated on what motorists would gain in speed inside the congestion pricing zone. Brodsky’s Friday line of questioning was encapsulated in one pre-hearing quote from the Daily News: "Why is this worth a regressive tax on the middle class and a new invasion of privacy to go only six-tenths of a mile further in an hour?"
  • Also said by Assemblyman Brodsky during the hearing: "privacy values"; "tremendously unpersuaded"; "I don’t have a plan, Mr. Doctoroff."
  • Queens Assembly Member Cathy Nolan leveled the mayor with a number
    of pointed questions and comments about the magnitude and efficacy of
    the pricing scheme. Nolan, a strong supporter of public transit who is
    considered a thoughtful lawmaker by many advocates, wondered why no
    Environmental Impact Statement was required and why the City Council
    did not need to pass a home rule message before the state legislature
    considered pricing. Deputy Mayor Doctoroff answered that pilot projects
    do not need an EIS. He added that a home rule message was not required.
    Nolan followed by asking why fees from residential parking would
    potentially go the city’s general fund and not a dedicated transit
    fund. She also asserted that the worst air pollution hotspot in Queens
    was at the tolled Queens Midtown Tunnel and not the untolled Queensboro
    Bridge. Implicit in Nolan’s remarks is that pricing does not work. She
    concluded by calling congestion pricing "extremely problematical" for
    areas outside Manhattan.

  • Responding
    to a query from Nolan, PlaNYC Director Rohit Aggarwala said that panel
    trucks, of the type owned and operated by many small businesses, would be
    subject to an $8 fee. The $21 charge would apply to large trucks, as
    defined by the MTA, exceeding a weight of 7,000 pounds.
  • Mayor Bloomberg said residential permit parking may or may not be established in conjunction with congestion pricing.
  • Assembly Member David Gantt, who chairs the Transportation Committee, worried about the burden of "poor" people who might drive into the city ignorant of the fact that there is a congestion charge, and who would end up owing exorbitant late fees. Bloomberg assured Gantt there would be plenty of publicity and signage.
  • James Brennan, assemblyman from Brooklyn, asked the mayor what would happen if transit trips take so long that outer borough residents make the "rational choice" and decide to drive anyway. Bloomberg replied that even if congestion were not reduced, the charge would still enable needed transit investments.
  • DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan was unable to attend due to previous plans to be out of the country.
  • Clayton

    I don’t get it. So now we’ll have 94,000 new mass transit riders that will be essentially piggybacking onto a system that barely operates when under crush load capacity.

  • James

    If Congestion Pricing save a life then it’s worth it!

    Less traffic means less pollution!

  • xue

    94,000 new riders in a system that serves 4.5 million daily is a drop in the bucket. Plus transit options will be expanded with the money. What is the issue?

  • Brodsky = Hack.

  • rlb

    This “drop in the bucket” mentality seems dangerous.
    94,000 new riders means almost 200,000 more trips a day, which is more than 4 percent of 4.5m (big ‘drop’). Most of these trips will be taking place during peak hours and will involve specific stations that are currently in car heavy neighbourhoods. The upper east side has the most heavily used subway line and one of the highest number of drivers in the city.

  • momos

    rlb – all the more reason to seize the opportunity of new revenues from congestion pricing for major new investment in NYC’s transit infrastructure.

  • Zam

    It’s all about the buses, folks. Congestion pricing does two things:

    1. It raises money for more buses.
    2. It frees up street space so that the buses can actually run.

    This is how London did it. It’s doable here too.

  • The subway used to carry almost twice the amount of people that it does now. I don’t see why it can’t do it again in the future, especially with infrastructure improvements from congestion pricing funds.

  • rlb

    The subway also used to have twice as many north-south manhattan lines.
    Not trying to give the wrong impression here, I’m all for congestion pricing and throwing money back into the transit system. But, assuming pricing has the desired effect, the day of ridership increases will precede the day of results from congestion pricing revenue by years.
    Hopefully Zam will prove right about the buses taking up some slack.

  • bev_rd

    London’s plan recognizes Motorcycles and Scooters as favorable modes of transport and allows these vehicle free entry into the congestion zone – with lots of free parking as well. Does NYC’s plan similarly recognize motorbikes?

  • pete

    When Bloomberg recognizes that cabs and limos (‘Black cars’) are not mass transit and that they are the biggest cause of congestion and proposes taxing each fare to help pay for mass transit, he has my support. Otherwise sounds like wants to penalize folks that would have 1 1/2 commute each way (walk/bus/subway/bus) so that his people can zip around traffic free in mid-town in the LincolnTown cars and yellow cabs.
    I don’t see at all why he is favoring the one group over other (except one group is perceived to be ‘bridge and tunnel’ and the other isn’t).

  • bev_rd

    TLC regulated businesses move about 1,000,000 people a day. That’s “mass transit” by most standards.

  • Hannah

    “Fewer” cars.

    I never did like the “one less car” slogan for the same grammatical reason.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    “Fewer” may be grammatical wherever you come from, Hannah, but it’s not New York English. No real New Yorker says “fewer.”

    The added burden on the transit system will be significant, and the improved bus service will be important, but adding 94,000 people to the subway system is not as big a deal as adding 94,000 cars to the roads.

  • steve

    0n the UES, itlooks like BRT will be in place on 1st/2nd Aves when congestion pricing comes in. The timing is key to getting people to try a new mode. I suspect that many UES residents that commute to the CBD would rather pay the $8 than switch modes, but they will fund later mass transit improvements.

    I agree that cabs and liveries should have to pay as well. It is inconsistent not to make the TLC fleet, which contributes its share of congestion, contribute to the solution. But that can come later.

  • Glen

    Only one question.

    “How come our team can’t do better than London and come up with a plan to reduce traffic without a new charge?” Carrots AND sticks must be used…not just sticks.

  • Danny

    Each of these programs will have to be tuned to work with the realities of the neighborhoods, whether you are talking about BRT or the congestion pricing zones and peak hours. Which reminds me, once they really start ripping up 2nd Ave, how many lanes will they even be able to maintain?

  • P

    “When Bloomberg recognizes that cabs and limos (‘Black cars’) are not mass transit and that they are the biggest cause of congestion and proposes taxing each fare help pay for mass transit, he has my support.”

    Pete, the perfect is the enemy of the good. I’m sure many here would agree that taxis should be charged to enter Manhattan but the plan is fighting for it’s life as it is- adding the TLC as an opponent would have be stupid on Bloomberg’s part.

    In any case, taxis differ from private cars in that they can be regulated to control their emissions and their is a finite number of them.

  • P

    Does NYC’s plan similarly recognize motorbikes?

    I hope not. They are a blight on cities around the world. I’d hate to trade air pollution for noise pollution.

  • bev_rd


    Get some data. Countries suffering from the “blight” of polution from motorcycles are third-world countries that are populated almost entirely by old technology 2-stroke motors which are esentially outlawed in the USA, and have been since the mid 1980s. London is not suffering from the blight of polution from motorcycles and scooters, and sales have skyrocketed there since the Congestion pricing scheme went into effect.

  • Hilary Kitasei

    Taxis and other for-hire vehicles are less nefarious than private automobiles because they aren’t being warehoused for the 95% of the time they are not being used. Car ownership has environmental and quality of life costs to the public. The worst is the displacement of permeable surfaces by wider streets, paved yards, parking lots, which all cause storm water overflow into the combined sewer system, and eliminate pollution-reducing landscape.

  • pete

    the 95% of time private cars are not being used they are not adding to pollution and congestion. And a car parked in a parking garage is not adding any extra runoff.
    And I am suggesting that Every fare be taxed – not a one time charge for the day for the cab to enter pricing area.
    If you want to ride in the congested area – you should pay whether in your own vehicle or in a cab (or twice amount in a limo).
    Remember cabs are driving around adding pollution and congestion with no passenger while cabbie is crusing for next fare. The ‘black cars’ are standing idle taking up bus lanes, truck loading zones, etc waiting for their next call.
    It is blatantly unfair and unwise to tax the driving person and the the car hire person.

  • mork

    No ripping up 2nd Ave. Deep bore tunnel.

    Also the mayor has stated that transit options will be increased BEFORE charging goes in.

  • Dave

    What I don’t get is why Bloomberg doesn’t use this opportunity to introduce city-wide permit parking along with congestion pricing. Every other major city (worldwide) has it; why not here?

    – Quiets those outside the congestion zone who think their neighborhoods will suffer from additional parkers avoiding the fee
    – Adds another disincentive to drive into the city
    – Can be a HUGE source of revenue for the city (cheapest real estate in the city…curbside parking = free)
    – Reserves street parking to those who live in the city and actually pay city taxes and register thie cars in the city
    – Is easy to introduce as the process is in place for a reduced tax rate for those who pay to park in a city garage

    Of course the whole placard abuse issue would help as well…but Mike doesn’t seem willing to tackle that one yet….

  • Jmc

    Motorbikes and Vespas stink… I lived in Italy (an industrialized country) for a while and loved the quiet of the winter winter because it was too cold for most people to ride those noisy, stinky, horrible contraptions. The emissions of those things are still bad, I can smell them as they go by… I know this because I have a pavlovian response and start thinking about Italy as soon as I smell that smell and hear that noise. Even if you have a catalytic converter, they’re still noisy.

    Italian cities are lovely for the ZTL (limited traffic zones– non-resident cars and motorbikes outside of the city center), but I wouldn’t imitate the scooter addiction.

    I hope there’s no exception for them.

    An electric bicycle works much better and is inherently safer, if one needs assistance.

  • bev_rd


    You’re still talking large 2-strokes. Europe has allowed large 2-stroke motors for 2 decades longer than the US, but they won;t meet tough new Euro standards for pollution. These vehicles do not exist in the US in any substantial numbers other than a few that have been imported and registered illegally.

    Since 1985 there have only been 3 two-stroke vehicles sold in the USA with a displacement larger than 50cc, each of these vehicles had to meet strict 49-state emissions standards.

    As for the noise, that is an enforcement issue (surprise!). EPA noise levels for motorbikes are very stringent, but nearly every motorcycle is illegally modified afterwards. There is virtually no enforcement of these violations.

    If you want to hate all motorized vehicles, then that it fine. But note that the US is the only country in the world that does not treat motorbikes as a favorable mode of transport. Just learned today that Toronto allows motorbikes to park for free at muni-meters.

  • P


    As it happened- I followed a scooter on my way to work yesterday. I was able to hear it over a half a block away while cars were quieter at half that distance.


  • chinatown resident

    112,000 fewer cars? What a farce! If anyone has read Transalt.org they’d know that The schaller study identified that a HUGE HUGE HUGE number of GOVERNMENT workers commute to work in the downtown area of Manhattan. The reason? They get a placard for their dashboard so they don’t get a ticket ANYWHERE they park for as long as they park. The Mayor has made no mention of making Gov.t workers pay to enter the City just like the rest of us. The NYPD, FDNY, The Feds, the various dept.s such as DEP, DOB, Dept. of Sanitation all give out placards to their members which are routinely abused as they park all over the City. You can bet that the 112,ooo cars taken off the road, will be replaced by many times that amount once the EXEMPTIONS, whether legitimate or not, are in effect for placard-possessing cars.
    The scheme of congestion pricing is a DISincentive for anyone who can get ahold of a placard (fake or real) to use mass transit, in fact with the fewer cars competing for street space, and parking, there is an INCENTIVE to buy a car if you can get a placard (fake or real) and commute to work, unfettered with a free parking spot near your workplace.
    TAX payers and citizens of NY can’t afford more of this abuse by the employees of the Government taking advantage of the system

  • Steve

    Chinatown Resident, I understand what you are talking about with placard abuse; your neighborhood is one of the hardest hit.

    But don’t you think the congestion pricing will help limit the abuse? Instead of letting a traffic enforcement cop decide whether or not to ticket a car with a placard, th congestion pricing model would register the same car’s entry to lower manhattan electronically and automatically–the camera has no “discretion.” Even though some NYPD and other public employees get free EZ passes, at least the use of those free EZ passes for congestion pricing fees would be documented and easily retrievable (and in theory accessible through freedom of information requests).

    I think congestion pricing would cut down on placard abuse, and lay the groundwork for eliminating it (at least within the congestion zone).

  • bev_rd


    I’m cynical enough to imagine that cops will hide their EZpass, and use license plate covers that block the camera from getting a clear shot. These are illegal, of course. But who enforces the use of them? Cops. “We don;t ticket our own.”

    No one can convince me that POlice CPR will be affected by Congestion pricing. (CPR = Cop Parking Rights.)

  • Steve

    Interesting idea, bev. They might try it, although (just like the placard abuse) they will invite copycat civilians to block their plates. I doubt that will be tolerated.

  • momos

    Bev, Steve & Chinatown resident: this is an important discussion you’re having. Will city vehicles or cars owned by city employees be exempt from the congestion charge? They shouldn’t be.

    There should be as few exemptions as possible: taxis, ambulances and police cars are understandable. No other exemptions should be permitted, city vehicles included.

    (Taxis, by the way, are a semi-public form of transportation since the same car is used over and over by different people. Further, it would be unfair to add yet more costs for taxi drivers, who already suffer high fixed costs and have no ability to increase fares.)

  • Those who keep posting about how ‘noisy’ scooters are are simply not correct. 90% of modern scooters purr like a kitten. The other 10% are either 40 years old or have aftermarket pipes that still struggle mightily to sound like a small motorcycle. Scooters also get 50-80 miles to the gallon. They are a good thing for cities to encourage.


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