Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
"Gridlock" Sam Schwartz

Gridlock Sam Offers Four Ideas to Cut Traffic Congestion

11:11 AM EDT on September 12, 2007

In today's Daily News, former New York City Deputy Traffic Commissioner "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz says congestion pricing should "proceed now" and offers four additional ideas for creating a little breathing room on Manhattan's streets:

One way to reduce congestion is to reduce the number of taxis -permanently. I did the math when I was traffic commissioner and foundthat the optimum number of taxis was just under 12,000. We now havemore than 13,000. With taxi medallion prices at $400,000, it would betoo heavy a lift to buy back 1,000 medallions all at once. Instead, thecity should purchase 100 medallions a year over 10 years.

There's a second kind of vehicle that's overpopulated on our roads,with more than 40,000 all over the city: black cars, or so-calledlimousines. The mayor's congestion pricing plan excludes them. It'stime to create a black car medallion to 1) reduce those numbers and 2)generate the funding to buy back taxi medallions.

The third big troublemaker is the through truck, or trucks withneither origin nor destination in Manhattan's central businessdistrict. Our current pricing scheme - double tolls to go out via theVerrazano Bridge and no tolls to drive through downtown and midtown -encourages truckers to clog many key arteries inside the city. Morethan 10,000 trucks a day are doing this. We must do two things: 1) bring back two-way tolls on the VerrazanoBridge and 2) charge through trucks $100 for the privilege of usingstreets and avenues in central Manhattan.

Finally, we need to curtail "privileged" parkers. I estimate that some150,000 government workers either park free in reserved spaces or justplain park illegally. That blocks access to curbs - and causes a chainreaction of other problems. Privileged parkers contribute to about 8%of the traffic downtown, and add far more than that share to congestionbecause of their "piggish" behavior of blocking bus stops, bus lanesand even hydrants. I haven't seen conditions this bad in 25 years.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Labor Gains: Judge Tosses App Giants’ Suit to Stop Deliverista Minimum Wage

Justice Nicholas Moyne cleared the way for a long-delayed wage hike for workers who brave dangerous roads to bring food directly to New Yorkers.

September 29, 2023

Fed Up Bronxites Tell Mayor To Forget About Bus Ride Invitation After Fordham Road ‘Betrayal’

"I really would think that our mayor would be a little bit more active and speak with us, because he hasn't really made any time with riders. We're not the enemy. We just want better bus service."

September 29, 2023

City Pays $150K to Settle Suit Over Cops Who Harassed Man Who Reported Police Parking Misconduct

Justin Sherwood and his lawyer will pocket $152,000 to settle his federal civil rights suit against the city and several officers who harassed him following his 311 calls.

September 28, 2023
See all posts