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

Gridlock Sam Offers Four Ideas to Cut Traffic Congestion

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

Ten-Year-Old Fatally Struck By Driver Near South Williamsburg Playground

The 62-year-old driver struck and killed the youngster at the intersection of Wallabout Street and Wythe Avenue.

April 16, 2024

Car Crashes by City Workers Cost Taxpayers $180M in Payouts Last Year: Report

A record number of victims of crashes involving city employees in city-owned cars filed claims in fiscal year 2023 — and settlements with victims have jumped 23 percent, a new report shows.

April 16, 2024

Tuesday’s Headlines: Biking with a Dutchman Edition

You really get a fresh perspective on city cycling when you do it with someone from Holland. Plus other news.

April 16, 2024

City Urges Judge to Toss Anti-Open Streets Lawsuit

The city's not responsible for 24-7 car access to every street, officials argued.

April 16, 2024

Opinion: Connect the Dots of Manhattan’s Missing Bike Lanes

Only a few miles of missing protected lanes stand in the way of a robust bike network.

April 15, 2024
See all posts