Feds to NYC: “Get on the Bus”
Looking closely at the conditions attached to the $354.5 million federal grant New York City received today, a few things jump out right away:
- The final Implementation Plan cooked up by the 17-member committee isn’t just going to be a "traffic migitation" plan. To qualify for this funding, New York City is going to have to "use pricing as the principal mechanism" to achieve traffic reductions, according to the Feds.
- Keep your eye on the 6.3%. The federal grant demands that whatever plan New York City settles upon, it must reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the congestion zone by 6.3%. Even in relatively simple cases (like, say, removing traffic from Central and Prospect Park) traffic modeling can be a subjective and complex business. Whomever is responsible for inputting data and analyzing the output of New York City’s traffic model, is going to be an important person these next few months. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad that Bruce Schaller is working for the Dept. of Transportation now.
- Today is a great day for New York City’s bus system. Forget the congestion pricing fight for a moment. The vast majority of this federal money — 92% of it! — is going straight into immediate upgrades for New York City’s bus system. That is huge. With $213.6 million, the MTA will roll out 367 new buses, upgrade pedestrian walkways around some stations and build a dedicated bus lane across the East River. The grant will also provide $112.7 million to fund New York City’s long-promised Bus Rapid Transit project. Ferries get $15.8 million too.
Still, it all depends on New York City and State legislators’ approval. But would you vote for a City Council Member or State Legislator who caused New York City to lose a federal grant that was going to provide for $342 million in nearly immediate bus and ferry improvements?