Pricing Hearings Begin With Away Double-Header

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 that
cost the region $13 billion and 52,000 jobs a year, said Josh
Klainberg, deputy director of the New York League of Conservation
Voters. "The technology exists today that will allow us to create a
congestion pricing system that is fair, flexible and responsive to
regional planning needs," Klainberg said.

Corey Bearak of Keep
NYC Congestion Tax Free referred to Bloomberg’s proposal as a
congestion tax and said excessive traffic is caused partly by failure
to enforce traffic laws.

But Weisenfeld and others said
Bloomberg’s proposal would be a hardship for people traveling into
Manhattan. Robert Friedrich, president of the co-op board in Glen Oaks
Village in Queens
, said there is little public transportation in his
neighborhood.

"There are no subways there, and there are
sporadic buses," he said. "This is an imposition of a lot of money on
working-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," said
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern. "I am proud to say that Rockland
is home to more New York City firefighters than any other county
besides Richmond. Not to mention teachers, court clerks, hospital
workers – in short, the people who keep the city running. These workers
cannot afford a tax on going to work."

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

Salley
stressed that the counties outside of Manhattan would have to pick up
the transportation slack of riders who could no longer afford to drive
into the city.

"(The numbers of diverted travelers) would
inundate the existing access systems for Metro-North stations and
overwhelm the bus service provided by the Westchester Bee-Line to
Manhattan and to the Bronx subways," Salley said. "Without access to
additional operating assistance, from the congestion pricing revenue
stream or from some other source, much of the cost of carrying diverted
commuters in Westchester will fall again on the most regressive of
taxes, the local property tax."

Those opposed to the fees
said the commission should look at other ways to alleviate congestion,
such as getting people out of their cars and onto public
transportation, enforcing the traffic and parking laws already in place
and 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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