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 found
that the optimum number of taxis was just under 12,000. We now have
more than 13,000. With taxi medallion prices at $400,000, it would be
too heavy a lift to buy back 1,000 medallions all at once. Instead, the
city 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-called
limousines. The mayor’s congestion pricing plan excludes them. It’s
time 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 with
neither origin nor destination in Manhattan’s central business
district. Our current pricing scheme – double tolls to go out via the
Verrazano Bridge and no tolls to drive through downtown and midtown –
encourages truckers to clog many key arteries inside the city. More
than 10,000 trucks a day are doing this. We must do two things: 1) bring back two-way tolls on the Verrazano
Bridge and 2) charge through trucks $100 for the privilege of using
streets and avenues in central Manhattan.
Finally, we need to curtail "privileged" parkers. I estimate that some
150,000 government workers either park free in reserved spaces or just
plain park illegally. That blocks access to curbs – and causes a chain
reaction of other problems. Privileged parkers contribute to about 8%
of the traffic downtown, and add far more than that share to congestion
because of their "piggish" behavior of blocking bus stops, bus lanes
and even hydrants. I haven’t seen conditions this bad in 25 years.