TSTC.org Would Be More Thankful If…

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s new Mobilizing the Region blog is really starting to come alive. If you haven’t added it to your daily news feed yet, it’s probably time to do it.

After giving thanks for the transportation policy advances of 2007 on Thursday, the TSTC staff, engorged with Tofurkey, went back to work on Friday and decided they’d be even more thankful if…

Congestion pricing opponents looked at the data instead of propagating myths.
When asked to back up assertions that congestion pricing will hurt
business, or that an alternative plan would do more to reduce traffic,
the best congestion pricing opponents can produce are slim,
un-footnoted reports premised on bad math and faulty assumptions. These
are, by and large, intelligent people who we happen to respectfully
disagree with. So why is it that so many of the reports backing up
their arguments wouldn’t pass muster in the average college class?

The MTA created a transit village program. MTA
representatives have said it’s too early for a transit village program
because transit-oriented development in the region is “at an embryonic
stage.” What we’ve seen on Long island and in the lower Hudson Valley
is plenty of smart projects completed and in planning, and a ton of
enthusiasm for smart growth. If that’s embryonic, it’s the most
precocious embryo we’ve ever seen.

The MTA enacted variable tolling on its bridges and tunnels.
Charging drivers more at peak hours has been proven to reduce peak-hour
congestion and is not a new concept. The Port Authority’s doing it. The
NJ Turnpike Authority is doing it. So, again… where’s the MTA?

The New York State Legislature stopped holding NYC back.
Congestion pricing. The solid waste management plan. Bus lane cameras
(and more red light cameras). All three would do wonders for New York
City, if only Albany would pass them.

The Sheridan Expressway was torn down and replaced with residences and parkland. Hopefuly
the long delay in the Bruckner-Sheridan Interchange environmental
review process is because NYSDOT has been giving hard thought to the
unconventional wisdom, as proven in Milwaukee and San Francisco, that
tearing down a highway can be a way to improve a community’s quality of
life — and won’t exacerbate traffic.

NYC got its parking policy straight. To its credit,
NYC replaced car parking with bike parking for the first time in its
history. But it also allowed the Yankees to build a stadium with more
parking than the old one (despite having less seats and a new
Metro-North station), and then tried to get NYSDEP to allow up to
40,000 more parking spaces in the far West Side. And the city would
gain a ton of street cred with advocates and the public if it would
only reform parking placard abuse.

  • Dave

    How about another easy fix….stop changing travel directions on bridges and tunnels for rush hours. With all the talk about congestion why don’t we stop facilitating more cars coming into the city during the morning rush. How much do we spend on traffic officers for this anyway?

  • If anything Dave, we could permanently make it easier for cars to leave the CBD at ALL time and make it harder to let them come back. After a few rounds of this people might start to get the hint.

    It would be pretty cool if some of the main in-bound Avenues like Second Ave and Columbus Ave could be made two way to alleviate the influx of automobiles every morning.

  • And the Transit Village program is a total no-brainer. Coordinate with Connecticut too, which should have a much better network of feeder buses built to increase ridership on MetroNorth.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I apologize a priori for the cynicism this will imply and I truly love the work TSTC does, so I’ll only focus on the first four:

    1) because we are not in a college class, or a corporate board room (someone should break the news to hizzoner). We are in the real world of urban politics in the largest most urban state working in the national political culture of Federalism where people have to get elected and some get turned out of office after two terms regardless of how good a job they did or what good policy they have proposed in good faith. The opponents of congestion pricing are not trying to win points in a debate class, there are no considerations of disjunctive syllogisms or post hoc fallacies, they are focused narrowly on defeating this plan and running their opposition up the flag pole in the next campaign. Facts, we don’t need no stinking facts, or to mangle Ed Koch, “facts don’t vote”.

    2) If the MTA proposed anything remotely like transit villages the Community Boards, the NIMBYs and the BANANAs would have Lee Sander tarred and feathered. Of the few supporters congestion pricing still has there are many who are also loud advocates of down-zoning in Brooklyn and Queens under the banner of neighborhood context. It is hard to be in favor of transit villages and to simultaneously be in favor of lower population densities near transit stops.

    3) Structured as it is the TBTA is the largest resource transfer from private automobiles and trucks to mass transit of any State or locality in the country. The MTA is reluctant to change the toll structure given the critical need the NYCTA, LIRR and Metro North have for that money. Sure we can envision incentives but we cannot really know the results. Look at the NYCTA fare incentives. The average fare has been driven down to $1.30 and the MTA can’t pull the political juice to increase it as a function of inflation. The system crowds beyond capacity as the fare falls and no more income comes in to support service increases. Then the riders won’t support a fare increase or congestion pricing because they can’t get a seat. No shit. Watch the MTA pull the variable pricing options off the table now, what other fate could possibly await variable tolls on the MTA crossings?

    4)”All three would do wonders for New York City, if only Albany would pass them.” They sure would, but would even the City Council pass them? I don’t think so. And if the City Council won’t do it, don’t look for the Assembly to. Because those City Council members are term limited and the Assemblypeople want protection from termed out politicians horny for another job.


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