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Assembly Considers Bankrupting MTA to Reduce Congestion

2:54 PM EDT on June 14, 2007

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From WCBS-TV via Second Ave. Sagas:

The pressure has been mounting on the legislature to pass the mayor's[congestion pricing] proposal, but when lawmakers are under pressure they tend to getcreative ... CBS 2 HD learned that a number of alarmed lawmakers are floatingcreative ways to ease traffic and reduce pollution without charging acongestion fee.

The first idea would involve dropping the price to ride the bus or subway during rush hour from $2 to 50 cents.

Thesecond idea is to increase bridge and tunnel tolls to $6 between 6 a.m.and 10 a.m., as well as 3 p.m. through 7 p.m. Under that plan, tollswould be reduced to just $2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A third ideais what one lawmakers calls "Odds Your In." That idea proposes oddnumber license plates can enter the business district on odd numberdays and even number plates can enter on even numbered days. The oddsand evens system would also work for truck deliveries, who could alsolimit deliveries on certain streets to certain days of the week. Deliveries could also be limited to the nighttime only.

Writes Second Ave. blogger Benjamin Kabak:

As the point of the congestion fee is to discourage driving whiletaking in money to improve the city’s infrastructure, it doesn’t makeany sense to cut the fare by, in effect, 67 percent at peak times. TheMTA would have to triple its ridership just to meet its current farerevenues. And tripling the ridership, besides being impossible, wouldoverwhelm the subway system well beyond the point of collapse.

The toll plan suffers from the same lack of foresight. Tolls arealready pretty expensive; a bump to $6 wouldn’t do much. But therebound -- $2 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. -- would simply push more peopleto drive when tolls are dirt cheap. I’m not even going to mention theeven/odd license plate proposal. That solves no problems, and good luckenforcing it.

In the end, none of these proposals approach the subtlety and thoroughness of Mayor Bloomberg’s original idea.

Photo: Gak/Flickr 

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