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NYC Car Commuters Are Wealthier and Cops <i>All</i> Drive to Work

12:49 PM EST on December 11, 2007

Driver_Incomes.jpg

I'm not sure that this particular set of facts matters one bit to Traffic Mitigation Commission member Richard Brodsky, who claims to represent the little guy in the congestion pricing debate, but New York City's Independent Budget Office released a report today demolishing the argument that pricing is unfair to the poor and working class (download it here).

"Commuters who use private motor vehicles to commute to the congestion zone," the IBO found, "are generally better off than other commuters to the area." The median annual earnings of motor vehicle users exceeded median annual earnings of other commuters by 30 percent -- $51,021 for motorists versus $39,247 for other commuters.

Moreover, "Motor vehicle users were less likely to be in the lowest 10 percent of earners and more likely to be in the top 10 percent." Motor vehicle users also came from higher income households -- "The median annual household income was $97,136 for those who drove to work in the proposed congestion zone and $75,550 for other commuters to the zone."

"These findings largely counter concerns that congestion pricing would disproportionately affect workers less able to afford additional commuting costs," the report concludes.
A Drum Major Institute study made similar findings earlier this year.

And who are these motor vehicle users? IBO found "striking contrasts between private motor vehicle users and other commuters." Motorists are "twice as likely as other congestion zone commuters to hold government jobs" -- 19.5 percent versus 10.3 percent. About a quarter of these government motor vehicle users work in the police or fire departments. "Indeed, very few congestion zone commuters in these occupations took other forms of transportation," according to IBO. Educators represented another one-fourth of government employee car commuters, "although many other educators used alternative transportation."

Conclusion: "Commuters who use private motor vehicles to commute to the congestion zone are generally better off than other commuters to the area."

And in case you forgot, back in July, a Transportation Alternatives study found that Manhattan-bound
drive-to-work constituents in Brodsky's Westchester district earn on
average $176,231 annually -- the highest of any New York county in the metropolitan area. 

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