Today’s Headlines

  • Pricing Committee Meets; Brodsky, Farrell Assume the Position (Metro, Sun, NY1)
  • Shaw Would Prefer Meetings Be Closed to Public (Daily Politics)
  • Members Told to Disregard Pricing’s Impact on Transit Fares (Newsday)
  • Dailies Disagree on MTA Hike; Straphangers Against (AMNY, News, Post, News)
  • More on Lappin Bike Delivery Bill (Post, Daily News)
  • IDA Still Withholding Yankee Parking Docs From Carrion (Daily News)
  • Stadium Replacement Park Hot, Smelly, and Possibly Toxic (Voice)
  • City Plans Garbage Station for Unofficial Neighborhood Park (Daily News)
  • Impaired Driver Kills Ped, Not Charged for Her Death (Sun, Post, News, NYT)
  • Jackson Heights Residents Blame Store for Congestion (Daily News)
  • Web Site Directs Drivers Cruising for Parking Spots (Post)
  • steve

    Daily News on Lappin bill: the person interviewed tells us we want our food delivered hot and fresh, but my observations and common sense suggest that the speediest delivery guys know that they can proceed most quickly (and make the most money) when they move with traffic and in the roadway, not on the sidewalk.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    One inaccuracy in the Sun article: Vivian Cook’s district includes Jamaica, not LIC. Cathy Nolan represents LIC and has expressed similar concerns.

    I think that Jamaica is more at risk because it’s further out (but still a short LIRR ride to Manhattan) and has lots of parking garages. I’m not sure how real the risk is, though.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps, if they want to allow the infrastructure to deteriorate and raise taxes instead of collecting a congestion fee, traffic in Manhattan could be limited in some other way — with a limited number of permit holders allowed to enter the congestion zone.

    And in addition to members of the state legislature and their relatives and political supporters, perhaps access should be rationed by the driving record of the driver and the emmissions level of the vehicle.

    Eventually, only zero emissions vehicles driven by those without a single infraction of any kind would be permitted to drive in, or out. That and people with connections, and those able to flaunt enforcement.

  • Spud Spudly

    Larry, those are mostly better ways of deciding who gets to drive in the CP zone than the method that’s currently on the table — who has the money.

  • fdr

    According to Maureen Dowd in today’s Times, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a Ph.D. in traffic management. Maybe someone should have asked him about congestion pricing.

  • Free Bread

    Since charging for driving on congested roads is so terribly unfair, let’s move onto bread. What could be more unfair than charging for bread? There are lots of better ways of deciding who gets bread than having to charge for it. Lots of them. Start by giving bread away for free. There is a charge for bread but not streets? Absurd. Obviously, bread should be free.

  • Spud Spudly

    Ever hear of Food Stamps?

  • Free Electricity

    Food stamps for all. The bread unfairness problem solved. Let’s move onto electricity. It’s darn unfair that overburdened working people have to pay for electricity. A charge for electricity — including peak period pricing no less — but no charge for bread or streets? Absurd. Electricity should be free.

  • Spud Spudly

    You’re right, Free, for some people it should be. Maybe that’s why Con Ed offers this, among other programs to help people who have financial difficulties:

    Home Energy Assistance Program

    The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) assists eligible, low-income persons with their energy costs. New York City residents can obtain more information by calling the Human Resources Administration (HRA) HEAP Hotline, 1-800-692-0557. New York City residents aged 60 or older who received a HEAP grant in 2005 will automatically be contacted by the HRA again this year, or can apply through the New York City Department for the Aging by calling 311. Westchester County residents should call the Department of Social Services, 1-914-995-5619. Residents of the county who are senior citizens or disabled can also apply through the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services, 1-914-813-6300.

    For more information on the HEAP, visit

  • Larry Littlefield

    Hey Spudly, the subsidized transportation equivalent of food stamps is the bus system, not driving a private motor vehicle into a highly congested area and claiming a scarce piece of asphalt as one’s private domain.

    There has been a great deal of hostility to government spending to meet people’s basic needs in this country over the past 20 years.

    Meanwhile, there is a great deal of attachment to government benefits for the non-poor that other folks do not get.

    How about rotation as a way to allocate that space? Those who have been driving to Manhattan have had the privilege long enough. Identify them and ban them for a few years, and give (and a smaller number of others) a chance. And if I choose not to exercise that priviledge, sobeit.

  • Spud Spudly

    That’s a new one Larry (or should I call you Free?). Sure, fine.

    You know, if CP advocates are correct and it’s true that only the wealthy are driving into the CP zone then it should be no problem at all to grant exemptions for the non-wealthy because they don’t drive anyway. It wouldn’t affect the number of cars on the road, wouldn’t result in any increases in congestion or air pollution, and should make the whole proposal more politically palatable, right? Then the CP advocates would get what they want and the annoying people like me who are bothered by issues of class fairness and equitable allocation of public resources should have nothing to whine about. Yes?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    New Mexico actually has a tax on bread, which is the most regressive tax I can imagine (although a tax on rent would be up there).

    However, as I’ve written before, I just can’t get too worked up at a system that favors the top 2.3% of commuters and the bottom 95.4%, while causing moderate hardship for the second-highest 2.3% of commuters. Seriously.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (if CP advocates are correct and it’s true that only the wealthy are driving into the CP zone then it should be no problem at all to grant exemptions for the non-wealthy because they don’t drive anyway.)

    They’d just get jobs as chauffers.

  • Ian Turner


    As Larry Littlefield has pointed out, a low-income assistance program for congestion pricing would be a constant target for abuse; you could formally transfer your car’s registration to the delivery guy down the street, pay him $200/yr for the privilege, and continue to drive it yourself. And please don’t tell me that this would be subject to enforcement; no traffic laws are enforced in New York, there’s no reason to think this one would be any different.

    That said, such a scheme would certainly be better than the status quo, so if such a provision would be politically necessary to have some kind of congestion pricing, it might be worth it.

  • Dave

    You cannot compare bread with driving into Manhattan. Bread/food is necessary to live; driving into the CBD is not (though some people seem to think it is)
    Subsidies for food and electric have some use as they are life necessities; we should not grant anyone a cheaper alternative to the CP charge as driving to Manhattan is clearly not one of life’s necessities.
    Sure maybe driving’s easier for people in the outer boroughs without adequate public transportation but there is an alternative; if you can’t afford the CP charge take the bus/subway/whatever for $2 (or less) and you’ll get there eventually.

  • Free Placards

    Now that electricity and bread unfairness are solved, let us move on to parking placards. How truly unfair that the average citizen does not have a parking placard. Let us resolve this problem by issuing free placards for all and ending regressive meter parking.

    On the topic of fair motoring, let us also mandate free car insurance, and lest we limit the freedoms of any, free cars for those who pass the appropriate means testing. HEAP could be expanded to include a free car and free gasoline.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Sure maybe driving’s easier for people in the outer boroughs without adequate public transportation).

    In the last couple of months I’ve overcome the fear of getting run over and having my bike stolen, and started traveling places by bicycle rather than just riding it around the park every now and then.

    That has changed my perspective.

    There are no places in NYC, and few places in the suburbs, with inadequate public transport, if you can safely lock a bicycle at the station. There are places with adequate public transportation within walking distance, and places with adequate public transportation within a short bike ride distance.

    This has also altered my perspective on where it is possible to live in NYC without a car, or with one car instead of two or more.

  • Spud Spudly

    Oy, oy, oy. Let’s backup here for a minute. I did not compare bread to driving — “Free” did and I just noted that some people do in fact get free bread. I did not compare electricity to driving — “Free” did and I just pointed out that some people do receive public assistance to pay their electric bill. I see the point Free is trying to make but he needs to choose better examples.

    And I do not support free cars or car insurance. Driving into Manhattan is definitely not a necessity. As I’ve said before, I support efforts to reduce traffic and congestion. I do think more people should take mass transit. I do think mass transit should be better funded.

    My whole point — and the point I’ve been trying to make clear here for several months now — is that who gets to use the public streets should not be decided by government policies that favor people who have the most money. That’s it. I’m not an obstructionist. Want to decrease traffic? Good, do it in a way that affects everyone. Ban all vehicles from the CP zone if you want.

    And congestion pricing probably won’t hurt me one bit. I commute to work by subway. You might have seen me on the train this morning. I own a car, but over 3 years after driving it off the dealer’s lot it still has less than 13,000 miles on it. Ninety-five percent of the time it’s parked in the garage in my building, which I pay for.

    And, frankly, I can afford the CP fee. Forty bucks a week wouldn’t set me back much. This is just a moral issue I feel strongly about.

    I don’t think CP would affect congestion very much. The strongest argument for CP is the money that would go to mass transit. But you know what? That money can come from many, many places. Any half-decent auditor could identify a million inefficiencies in government and the MTA that could be corrected tomorrow if the political will existed. Demand accountability from government, don’t just throw up your hands and say that the only place to get the money is to charge more citizens more fees. And definitely don’t accept that it’s OK to bar certain income groups from using public resources in the same way that the wealthy use them.

  • da

    Spud, it’s not true that the policy only favors those with the most money. See comment #12.

  • “Ban all vehicles from the CP zone if you want.”

    I want I want! We’ve been hearing this argument almost a year now, with the same old distractions. A lot of us would love to “ban cars,” but we know it ain’t gonna happen. And though I know pricing will work far better (and is the only system that fairly rewards people not driving), I would take Mexico city or Athens style rationing over the free-for-all that we have now. But guess what? Ain’t gonna happen!

    This here’s the USA, where resources are regulated by capitalism. It’s the only way we’re any good at regulating anything, and it’s the way we will succeed in regulating automobile over-consumption. It might set people’s rusty old class warfare alarms off, because this is a new kind of regulation that we’re being forced to engage in, but there are more important things than that. Like saving lives. Of working people hit by cars, and the health of people breathing auto emissions, and the mental health of everyone having to walk around, listen to the horns of, and run out of the path of these giant iron-clad wheelchairs that suburbanites think they need to GO anywhere.

    There is nothing fair about a system that gives away an expensive public resource only to those above a certain income threshold who choose to spend it on machines that are ecologically destructive and make accidental homicide commonplace. It’s time to let it go.

  • Spud Spudly

    That income threshold is a lot lower than some people think. I can buy an old beater tomorrow and put it on the road, insured and everything, for less than $750. Go to any poor neighborhood in the city and try to find parking — the curbs there are just as crowded as anywhere else.

    Please see post #11 above. And go ahead and call me rusty, I can take it. But the fact is that all the things that CP will supposedly accomplish — which all reward people who choose not to drive — can be achieved in other ways.

    And guess what: CP? Might not happen!

    I do like the description of cars as giant iron-clad wheelchairs for suburbanites though.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Spud, in 1987 my mom bought me a car for $300, which is $531.71 in 2006 dollars, so I’m sure that even in NYC you could put a new car on the road for $750. The threshold is for keeping it on the road, and getting it to Manhattan every day, and parking it.

    I’ve lived in the South Bronx, and I know that even in poor neighborhoods there’s a range of incomes. The people who have those cars on the curb are relatively well-off. And just like you, most of them don’t drive into Manhattan. They leave their cars in their neighborhoods for shopping and recreation, or they work outside of the CBD. They can afford the $40 a week too – although the hope is that they’d prefer to spend it on something else.