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Pricing Hearings Begin With Away Double-Header

3:11 PM EDT on October 25, 2007

The first hearings conducted by the New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission were held yesterday, with one in White Plains and another at Hofstra University.

Newsday reports on the latter:

Congestion pricing is a "sensible solution" to traffic tie-ups thatcost the region $13 billion and 52,000 jobs a year, said JoshKlainberg, deputy director of the New York League of ConservationVoters. "The technology exists today that will allow us to create acongestion pricing system that is fair, flexible and responsive toregional planning needs," Klainberg said.

Corey Bearak of KeepNYC Congestion Tax Free referred to Bloomberg's proposal as acongestion tax and said excessive traffic is caused partly by failureto enforce traffic laws.

But Weisenfeld and others saidBloomberg's proposal would be a hardship for people traveling intoManhattan. Robert Friedrich, president of the co-op board in Glen OaksVillage in Queens, said there is little public transportation in hisneighborhood.

"There are no subways there, and there aresporadic buses," he said. "This is an imposition of a lot of money onworking-class people."

Business owners said the proposal would hurt companies that must make multiple trips to Manhattan each day.

"Our industry is going to be majorly impacted," said Ron Billing, president of Ron's Rapid Delivery in Hicksville.

And here's the Journal News from White Plains:

"I represent a county with many commuters who are not rich," saidAssemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern. "I am proud to say that Rocklandis home to more New York City firefighters than any other countybesides Richmond. Not to mention teachers, court clerks, hospitalworkers - in short, the people who keep the city running. These workerscannot afford a tax on going to work."

Also in oppositionwas former New York City Council member Walter McCaffrey; John Corlett,director of government affairs for AAA in New York; and WestchesterCounty Commissioner of Transportation Lawrence Salley.

Salleystressed that the counties outside of Manhattan would have to pick upthe transportation slack of riders who could no longer afford to driveinto the city.

"(The numbers of diverted travelers) wouldinundate the existing access systems for Metro-North stations andoverwhelm the bus service provided by the Westchester Bee-Line toManhattan and to the Bronx subways," Salley said. "Without access toadditional operating assistance, from the congestion pricing revenuestream or from some other source, much of the cost of carrying divertedcommuters in Westchester will fall again on the most regressive oftaxes, the local property tax."

Those opposed to the feessaid the commission should look at other ways to alleviate congestion,such as getting people out of their cars and onto publictransportation, enforcing the traffic and parking laws already in placeand changing existing traffic patterns.

There will be another hearing tonight, in Manhattan:

Hunter College - Kaye Theater

Thursday, October 25, 2007

6:00 PM

East 68th Street Between Park & Lexington Avenue

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