Odds and Ends

New York and six other cities have their federal grant application presentations online here at the Transportation Research Board. Contrary to congestion pricing opponents who claim the July 16 federal deadline is a ruse. Patrick Decorla-Souza at the FHWA confirms that all of the "other applicants either already have statutory
authority, or the granting of authority is not a controversial issue."
The federal grant process is moving forward with our without New York, it seems. 

Azi Paybarah
reports that Sheldon Silver is not calling the State Assembly back to Albany for a vote on Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal. Rather,  he is convening a meeting of New York City and
suburban Assembly members on Monday, July 16 in New York City. If the meeting doesn’t result in some sort of official legislative
approval — and it’s hard to see how it would — New York City’s $500 million will go to Dallas, San Diego, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver, Miami, Seattle or Minnesota.

Council Member David Yassky, Chair of the Small Business Committee, issued a report on congestion pricing and its effect on small business today. Conclusion:

of potential business activity in the area is unlikely. If anything,
the reduction in congestion is expected to cause something of a boost
in productivity, which should have a positive impact on growth in the

Bloomberg’s approval rating is at an all-time high.

The take-away from today’s Times story about the high cost of private parking space in Manhattan: Everyone (including Richard Brodsky and David Weprin) seems to be raking in dough off of parking except the City of New York. Does the Mayor need Albany’s approval to completely revamp New York City’s on-street parking policy? I think not.

Charles Komanoff fixes to get Sheldon Silver’s attention with biblical and Zionist references in this Villager op/ed. Suffice it to say, Shelly’s no Ben-Gurion.

  • Boogiedown

    Street parking, and I mean all steet parking, should be market price. I find it unbelievable that people expect–and get!–free real estate in this city! I speak as a former and future car owner. Put munimeters on every block and charge the going rate. Plenty of people would either get rid of their car or move it into a covered, secure garage, inluding me!

  • howiehedd

    Another solution is resident’s only parking.

    If you want to park here, pay taxes here.

  • Rex

    Elmininate all free on street parking for everyone below 86th. Start with $4/hr with a two hour minimum and a 6 hr maximum, then keep raising the price until you see the desired effect.

    Make all private parking garages have secure bicycle parking facilities. The city can reimburse the garages from the meter money for a lost parking space. (Brodsky and Weprin should like that.)

    Put the rest of the money into public transit.

    Raise and enforce parking fines for delivery vehicles.

    Are we close yet? No cameras, no medling from Silver. The only problem left is through traffic.

  • Hey, great blog!


  • gecko

    Looks like a lot of NY politicians will soon have a half billion dollar albatross necktie to lug around after they allow the funding to go elsewhere and they’ll have to appear in public and, . . . , mumble mumble.

  • s

    I think it would help if we saw not only what cities would get the money but what the projects in those cities are. I’m sure at least a few are hardly as interesting or important as reducing traffic in the country’s largest city.

    Could someone post that info?

  • s,

    Above I linked to some of the other cities’ projects…


  • Rex

    I am going to make myself as arbitrary as Silver.

    I am going add that official non-emergency vehicles have to pay too. That way the various city, state, and federal departments will have to stop externalizing the cost of driving and may look at reducing car-headiness.

  • I’ve got an idea:

    Sell the City bridges to the MTA (or Port Authority). Let them charge whatever it takes to make them at least self-sufficient and better yet support mass transit improvements.

    The City owns them. Do they need state approval for that?

    Either that or just reinstitute the morning ban on Single occupancy vehicles from 7-10am.

  • While Brodsky and Silver et al. try to paint the congestion charge as a crushing burden on the working stiff, the real face of subsidized driving here is that of Cynthia Habberstad, a Long Island mom profiled in the Thursday NYT article about the $225,000 parking space:

    “She and her three children, ages 7, 9 and 11, live on Long Island, but the children’s modeling schedules bring them into the city at least twice a week, and the apartment they bought in the building will be a pied-à-terre.
    ‘If we’re coming in late from dinner or we have a lot of stuff in the car, do we really want to have to walk a few blocks to get home?’ Ms. Habberstad said. ‘It all makes sense now that I don’t have it.'” (“It” being the space she passed on for $165K but has just bid $195K for.)

    Link to the article is in Thursday’s Headlines here on S’blog.

    This is who the Assembly Dem’s are protecting.

  • vito

    craig, i love your website almost as much as streetsblog.

    one proposed solution: bloomy needs to threaten to run against/depose shelly. if shelly blocks this, or if he fails to use the overwhelming political bitch-making power that derives from his position as speaker to make damn sure it passes — even brodsky would vote for congestion pricing if shelly threatened to take away his member items — bloomy ought to actually do it. don’t waste your money on a presidential run, mike; become one of the three men in the room (though i know defeating silver in an election for his assembly seat would not automatically result in elevation of bloomberg to speaker), where the real — and really corrupt! — power in this state is exercised.

  • And it should be noted: the rest of the page in The Villager with Charles Komanoff’s op-ed piece is occupied by another pro-congestion pricing op-ed from none other than Paul Steely White:


  • P

    Conceptually I agree with the idea that all onstreet parking should be market priced but that would require a serious reform in the way NYC allocates curb cut permits.

    Otherwise I’m afraid of the unintended consequence would be a privatization of curb space in many neighborhoods that currently have on-street parking. Carroll Gardens and Kensinginton have both suffered from this recently.

  • jojo

    I’m so glad Craig is on board. I think this movement of real environmental awareness will one day get somewhere. The power of the Internet has still yet to be realized; it’s amazing. Change might not by Monday; too many old politicans stuck in denial. A part of me thinks that they are so old and oblivious and rigidly corrupt that they have no idea what goes on the East Side at 5 pm. Then again, Bruno of all people is on board with the pricing plan.

    But let’s make sure that we hold the right people accountable when things REALLY start going to hell. Eh?

  • Spud Spudly

    The natives are sure getting angry. I can’t wait to see the fireworks when Monday comes and goes with no action by the Assembly except a meeting in Manhattan to confirm what we already know — that they oppose the Mayor’s plan.

    You want to move Shelly in your direction? Do away with the part of the plan that says that all the members of the congestion pricing commission would be appointed by the mayor. Politicians don’t like to give up power. Shelly would want the state to have its hand in that commission. It also wouldn’t hurt if you did away with the EZ Pass credit that would allow NJ drivers to pay only $2 more to drive into the City while NYC residents would have to pay $8.

    Getting the Mayor to end his personal support for Senate republicans is a good idea too. The Dems love to think they can win over the Senate by taking control of just a few vulnerable seats. Why would they give a political victory to the billionaire mayor from New York who’s hurting their chances of doing that?

    But even if it doesn’t happen between now and Monday, and even if the end result may not be the elitist, half-baked, detail-deficient scheme the Mayor proposed, you still have to be pleased that Bloomberg has initiated the debate.

    I bet everyone was cheering Shelly when he nixed the West Side Stadium deal. That would have been a congestion nightmare.

  • rhubarbpie

    That’d be a hilarious race — Shelly vs. B-berg. But, as you noted, you don’t get to be speaker automatically if you win Silver’s district. Real problem here is that a huge number of Shelly’s assembly members didn’t buy into congestion pricing, or haven’t yet. Many black assembly members see it as discriminatory — maybe ’cause they drive? — and that’s a battle that B-berg needs to take to their constituents. This ain’t gonna be won on Streetsblog, let’s put it that way.

  • Spud Spudly

    Bloomberg would probably lose that race, even if he spent another $74 million on the campaign. The people in Shelly’s district would be crazy to vote out their assemblyman when he’s the most powerful person in state gov’t.

  • rhubarbpie

    Whatever your view of Spud Spudly’s “elitist” argument — Spud Spudly’s a great name, by the way — he (she?) makes some smart points. Bloomberg’s unpopular in Albany, and his recent decision to switch to a non-affiliated status and, at the same time, continue to fund Senate Republicans, made the assembly unwilling to do him any favors. (Not that the assembly really wants a Democratic Senate, but that’s another story.)

  • jojo

    The battle won’t be won on Streetblog….yet.

    Of course I support a compromise at this rate. But thats up to the powers that be. I just hope they make the right decision in the end. Some random, disconnected ideas to float for general digestion:

    -Reinstating the post 9/11 HOV rule below 63rd street?
    – Reducing the size of the congestion zone?
    – Reducing the charge for trucks?
    – Promise funding expanded and free Metro-North/LIRR park-and-rides as needed?

    I’ll tell you one thing: Funding from the feds or not, inaction is absolutely unacceptable.

  • Happy Camper

    This goes well beyond rich and poor, commuters and not …

    In a city and a country where your proof of identity is a DRIVER’s License even if you are not driving, we are touching here at a deply ingrained cultural myth: I drive therefore I am.

    The car was about individual freedom, competitiveness, speed, and proof of success. All values embodied by the automobile that sets you ” free” . It is not in New york but the perception lingers for much longer after the reality has changed, a classic effect of the markets.

    I wish Bloomberg would succeed.

    If Bloomberg fails, it will be because he is trying something too big, too late and top down, a trade mark of his business- owner culture where he could..

    If he fails we will keep him on the matter, win small victories in a slow way and prevent him for going to the next big thing.

    Mr Silver, we will remove those cars, one at a time if this is what it takes…. So you are better off doing it quick and easy with a $ 500 million incentive.

  • rhubarbpie

    Happy Camper’s point about Bloomberg’s roll-out (esp. the too-late and top down piece) is on target.

    I know there is a great deal of unhappiness with Silver — he doesn’t see what we see and dammit, why not? — but the man is really just responding to his constituents.

    In this case, aside from his district, his constituents are the men and women who selected him to be speaker. (That may not be fair or the best thing, but it is correct. It’s the same in the City Council, where ultimately Christine Quinn is going to do what the council members want to do, along with various real estate developers who she thinks can make her mayor.) And Silver’s assembly constituents didn’t want congestion pricing. Making Silver the bad guy doesn’t get us anyplace; figuring out how to persuade the weak links in the opposition (not Brodsky) is the way to go.

    And, while the loss of $500 million is bad news, and it’s always good to have a deadline, that’s where the next battle must take place — on the home turf of the assembly members who opposed this and told Silver they wouldn’t support it.

  • vito

    i absolutely disagree with spud comment #17 when he says shelly’s assembly district constitutents (contradistinguished from his assembly caucus constituency to which he owes his seat as speaker) wouldn’t vote that rat bastard out of office. assembly incumbents are invulnerable because NOBODY CARES about those elections . . . most residents of that district probably don’t know who shelly is . . . most registered voters probably vote democratic party line because they oppose the war in iraq, not because they are loving the benefits they enjoy from shelley’s ridiculously disproportionate political power; NOBODY knows or cares about this crap except those weirdos who concern themselves with local politics, either as vocation or avocation. pouring bloomberg’s millions into a race like that could guarantee that every apathetic hipster living on the lower east side would learn what a bastard shelley is in 25 different languages. bloomy could also fund a quasi-party apparatus that could overcome the institutional entrenchment of the democratic party machine in this city, and register every eligible voter.

  • drose


    After Monday, Silver’s assembly district constituents will be forever condemned to be parking lots for the three free bridge approaches that run through that neighborhood, and also will probably not have the opportunity to take a Second Ave. Subway uptown in their lifetimes, not just 2020 as now planned. Yes, his power as Speaker brings them a great deal of pork, but they do have to leave their homes to walk on the streets and go to work, and the failure of Status-Quo Silver and the Assembly to pass congestion pricing will leave them worse off in the long-run.

    I’m surprised I have not seen any movement towards a rally in front of 250 Broadway on Monday at 2 pm. Everyone now knows where the decision makers will be.

  • rhubarbpie

    No doubt, drose, that Silver’s neighborhood faces congestion for years, though I hope this isn’t the end of the drive for congestion pricing, as you seem to suggest.

    But that doesn’t negate my key point: Silver listens to the Democratic assembly members, and they are telling him they don’t want congestion pricing.

    In the end, even if he was a total congestion-pricing convert, he’d have to have the votes, and for a variety of reasons (see various earlier posts by me and others) he doesn’t have them.

  • rhubarbpie

    OK, I’ll stop soon and get back to work. And it’s a complete side issue. But I think vito is mistaken: Bloomberg would have a tough time winning Silver’s district. Both men have the personal warmth of a frozen mammoth, but Silver does have a real base down there.

  • vito

    and in response to rhubarb #16, i again have got to disagree. assembly members aren’t supporting the plan because shelley isn’t supporting the plan, not the other way around, as he would have you believe (i heard his disingenuous claim on wnyc the other morning that he thinks “the votes just aren’t there” … tsk, tsk). shelley is the assembly. any member who ever wants to pass anything ever again, who ever wants to get his name as a cosponsor on some popular bill, who ever wants to fund some pet project for a wealthy political donor friend out of the member items slush fund, had better vote however shelley wants him to vote. assembly members, once they’re in, pretty much can be there for life if they want. they’re thoroughly entrenched incumbents. shelley determines how pleasant your stay in albany is. man, eff that guy.

  • rhubarbpie

    So I guess the assembly members are just some kind of robots. This plan would move forward if it had real backing among assembly members: I think the abuse directed toward Silver, though understandable, is misplaced (and expressed sometimes in a way that seems a bit out of line, actually).

  • Spud Spudly

    You know Vito, you might be right. I’m thinking of how I would vote if I was represented by the most powerful person in state government (I’m one of those weirdos after all that follows this stuff closely). But with Bloomberg-type cash you can influence a lot of people.

    The funniest part of the whole idea is the thought of Mike Bloomberg trudging up to Albany to serve as a State Assemblyman. Of course, he can probably satisfy the district residency requirement by just buying every residential unit in the entire district.

  • vito

    spud, as a fellow weirdo, i appreciate your relenting to, as well as your subtle back-handed undercutting of, my argument. silver is a rich man too, of course, only not extraordinarily so to the degree that the mayor enjoys. and rhubarb, i don’t mean to be out of line, but i do think that your interpretation of the way nys govt works, though intuitively correct and certainly it would be desirable to transform the assembly such that it were responsive to democratic will the way you suppose it to be, is rather naive. i guess i’d need to rustle up some kind of study tracking the frequency with which members’ votes track the speaker’s to convince you, but here‘s a recommended read in the meantime.

  • rhubarbpie

    Actually, vito, my analysis is based on reports I’ve gotten from Albany lobbyists about how things have played out on the congestion pricing front. And a great deal of my own experience in dealing with Albany and City Hall. I don’t think I’ve got the wrong take on this one: survey assembly members from the city yourself and see what they think of the mayor’s proposal.

    Do they take their lead from Silver? Often, but not always. Does Silver take his lead from them? A great deal of the time. That is one way he stays speaker.

    There’s no doubt that Albany is broken, but if it were the purest form of democracy up there (in other words, if members were truly able to push bills, etc.), congestion pricing would still fail to garner enough votes — and it wouldn’t be close.

  • drose

    Since MTA fare hikes need no votes from the Assembly, we can now be sure that is one measure that will certainly pass after Monday’s spectacle downtown.

  • jrivero

    Well rhubarbpie, your observations have ironically been a strange sort of consolation for me during these dark times. It’s better to think that CP was defeated by widespread opposition in the Assembly rather than by the whim and political calculations just a single reprehensible individual. Still, if Silver ever does lead the way (as he did when they repealed the commuter tax), it is unforgivable that he did not pick this as an opportunity to do so. And I say that not just because of the obvious benefits to his district, but because the central objections of the opposition, at least as were made public, were either disingenuous or misinformed. And if opponents were just representing the concerns of their constituents, then they are all the more to blame for choosing to parrot (and pander to) ignorance rather than lead based on the facts. The costs of CP are simply distributed among too few to explain the extent of opposition that you suggest. So if that many remained opposed, all that says is that that many chose not to do their homework or their job as members of the Assembly.

    What makes all this even less excusable is that we’re talking about a pilot program. So even if you had serious reservations about CP, you’d have to be a real cynical and arrogant son of a bitch to think that nothing useful would come out of a trial program, even if in the form of an empirical validation of your concerns.

    This is all very disheartening.

  • rhubarbpie

    It has been a frustrating several weeks, no doubt, jrivero. It is particularly frustrating that Silver did not pick up the charge — I agree. But this was a battle lost all around the city and suburbs, in district after district, not just in the speaker’s office.

    I also admit that I have tended to focus on the missteps of the mayor — from before the poorly played roll-out to an arrogant negotiating team to his dismissive comments about subway crowding — rather than the easy-to-pick-apart arguments of the congestion-pricing opponents. This is a classic case of a mayor who appears to be politically naive, even after more than six years in the job, about the ways of the state capital (and capitol). In this case, unlike others, he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) buy off people.

    Unless there is a bizarre and unexpected development in the next couple of days, my question — which I guess we can take up after Monday, is what to do next. I know that blasting the speaker or assembly is inevitable. Instead, though, I’d like to talk through a real analysis of where the opposition developed and why.

    I also don’t know if there is ever a chance for congestion pricing, given how this has played out. But, if there is any hope, that analysis is going to be very important as we move forward.

  • JF

    JRivero wrote:

    It’s better to think that CP was defeated by widespread opposition in the Assembly rather than by the whim and political calculations just a single reprehensible individual.

    That may be some consolation … unless your Assemblymember happens to be part of the widespread opposition, despite the fact that there’s significant support for congestion pricing in the district.

    If it were the purest form of democracy in Albany, the assembly would be full of transit users instead of drivers. Is it just impossible that an assemblymember from a NYC district could ever not be a long-term car owner with a permanent windshield perspective? Grrr…

  • Constituent

    I phoned my representative Joe Lentol and, after voicing my support for the mayor’s plan, his staffer admitted me that he is just following the the Speaker’s lead.

  • jrivero

    Rhubarbpie, an analysis of where and why the opposition developed may be too much to ask. If you consider the distribution of the costs and benefits of CP, the opposition of most assembly members, Silver included, makes no sense. So if their behavior was not determined by the best interest of their constituents, then figuring out their political motivation would be just a whole bunch of speculation.

    I agree with you that the Mayor rolled out his plan too late. But the initiative did have big dollars behind it. It also enjoyed support from a wide range of groups– from business to unions to good gov organizations. And then on top of that, there was a $500 million incentive to get it done. If it could not be passed by Albany now, it will never be passed. The best that we can hope for is that the City somehow manages to secede. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to make do with whatever complementary measures we do have control over. We can still charge market prices for parking. We can still make driving more expensive by reducing the supply of roadways available to cars– by devoting physically separated lanes to buses; by pedestrianizing major commercial corridors. But I suspect that it will also be a challenge to get approval for any of those. Unlike congestion pricing, the perceived negative effects of more local measures appear to be concentrated on particular neighborhoods. So i can just hear it now, “traffic will be a nightmare!” “businesses will suffer” and so on and so forth.

    So I guess I just don’t feel as optimistic as i did a couple of weeks ago about the likelihood of making progress. New York will continue ignoring better practices around the world, convinced that it is charting the path of urban sophistication and progressiveness, while its peer cities marvel at its parochialism and backwardness.


If Albany Lawmakers Don’t Go Back to Work, NYC Loses

Sounding frustrated, Mayor Bloomberg said in his radio address this weekend that it would be "absolutely ridiculous" for state lawmakers to leave hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to another city by rejecting New York City’s congestion pricing plan. Opponents of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan, like State Assembly Member Denny Farrell, a Democrat from Northern […]

Today’s Headlines

Congestion Pricing: Silver is Talking, at Least (News, Daily Politics) Deadline on Federal Pricing Grant is Firm (NYT) Spitzer Ties Assembly Salary Increase to Pricing Approval (Sun) Brodsky and Lancman Proposals Won’t Get the Job Done (RPA) NJ NIMBY’s Tilt Against Neighbor’s Windmills (NYT) Congestion Pricing: Still Good for the Middle Class (Albany Project) Congestion […]

Details of the US DOT’s $354.5 Million Grant to NYC

The Agreement: The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded $354.5 million through its Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) to New York to implement the Mayor’s congestion pricing program (or an alternative plan approved by USDOT as described below). The funds have been awarded jointly to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), the New […]

Details of Proposed Bus Service Expansion

The other day I noted that one of the most destructive pieces of misinformation floating around the New York State Assembly is this line from Assembly Member Richard Brodsky’s congestion pricing report: The City has no plan to improve mass transit prior to the implementation of congestion pricing. This is a serious if not fatal […]

Paterson Backs Pricing, Introduces Bill in Albany

David Paterson is going to do right by his old State Senate district after all. New York’s new governor settled any doubts about his position on congestion pricing this afternoon, introducing a bill that follows the recommendations of the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission. The Daily Politics has the scoop: "Congestion pricing addresses two urgent concerns […]

Congestion Pricing Commission’s First Meeting

From Crain’s Insider: The Congestion Pricing Commission will meet for the first time next week, bringing together the 17 people who must choose between Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s traffic mitigation plan and some other program. To qualify for a $354.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, a plan must involve a pricing component and […]