Testify! Public Hearings on Congestion Pricing Tonight

I’ve been accused of "droning on" about congestion pricing here on Streetsblog, and not just by hostile commenters. Even Mark Gorton, our publisher, has mentioned that he’s sick of reading about it.

Still, we continue to spill all of this ink over congestion pricing because it is far and away the most important game in town. If you want better, safer bicycling; faster more reliable buses; more honorable treatment of pedestrians and public spaces and a healthier, more pleasant and sustainable New York City — congestion pricing is the quickest, most effective way to make these changes happen.

That’s because congestion pricing is the only policy that simultaneously reduces the number of motor vehicles on New York City’s streets while raising money for transit and public space improvements. Typically, activists and change-makers deal in compromise and small incremental improvement. This moment is different. Congestion pricing creates an opportunity to make relatively revolutionary change happen relatively immediately. I don’t expect this sort of opportunity to come along again any time soon. Now is the time to do everything we can to try to help push congestion pricing through the City Council and State Legislature.

Tonight’s your chance to contribute. There will be six simultaneous public hearings held throughout the metropolitan region. Sign up ahead of time as a speaker and write up even just a paragraph or two of testimony. If you can go, go!

Here is a note from Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White with more details:

TONIGHT (Thursday, January 24), there will be public hearings on congestion pricing in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. I’m sure you can think of better ways to spend an hour or two tomorrow night, but this set of hearings will determine whether congestion pricing will go to a vote this spring, or if it winds up in the dustbin.

Go represent your borough. Hearings start at 6pm. You must sign up in advance to speak, so go to this website for hearing locations and fax or email in your RSVP (you don’t need to submit testimony online, you can just speak at the hearing).

All details are here:

Speak out for less traffic and better transit paid for by congestion pricing! Tell the commission about your transit, biking or walking commute and how you need safer streets and more reliable subways and buses.

Here are the details:

Thursday, January 24th

6 pm

Medgar Evers College

1650 Bedford Ave.

Brooklyn

Thursday, January 24th

6 pm

Hostos Community College

Savoy Multi-Purpose Room

Walton Ave. at 149th St.

The Bronx

Thursday, January 24th

6 pm

York College Performing Arts Center

94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.

Jamaica, Queens

Thursday, January 24th

6 pm

College of Staten Island

Center for the Arts, Recital Hall 1P

2800 Victory Blvd.

Staten Island

Thursday, January 24th

6 pm

Westchester County Center

198 Central Ave.

1st Floor Meeting Rooms A-B

White Plains

Thursday, January 24th

6 pm

Hofstra University

University Club

North of Main Gate

Hempstead

  • Heffron

    This is important, and we have to make sure to keep the momentum and stay on message, it will all pay off when CP passes and we start seeing improvements to our mass transit and in our public spaces.

    The TA Queens Committee will be at York College tonight for the hearing. Come out and join us!

  • I’ll be there at the Brooklyn hearing.

    There’s a lot to be learned from what Robert Moses did to this city. Mostly, these are lessons in what not to do.

    But one truly valuable lesson is that with money in hand, anything can be accomplished. This program would harness money to “get things done” . . . but this time, the right things.

    Personally, I favor a modified version of the bridge tolling plan, but I could also live with a tweaked congestion pricing plan. The only plan which is a non-starter is the license plate rationing, which is a joke.

  • I think Spitzer is sweetening the pot for the Assembly with offers of pay raises: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/24/nyregion/24raise.html?ref=nyregion

  • I think the Bloomberg Congestion Plan is too complex and requires way too many cameras to be abused by the police – with the bridge toll plan available as an option I am completely opposed to the Mayor’s plan. I favor the bridge-tunnel toll plan because its simple, the technology implementation and maintenance requirement is way less, and it leaves more money for public transit, and its not going to further empower the NYPD to further trash my civil rights.

  • rachael

    I think it’s going to take a lot more than congestion pricing to create safe streets in NYC. I used to be excited about the idea of congestion pricing in NYC until I rode my bike around London this past summer. It doesn’t feel safe there at all. The cars can drive at fast speeds because there is very little gridlock. Congestion pricing is one piece of a larger puzzle and, although I hope it passes, I worry that Streetsblog has unrealistic expectations for how it will change our streets.

  • Blog Fan

    Rachael,

    If you look at the Streetsblog archives down in the right-hand column there, you’ll see that bicycling and pedestrian issues, and safety issues in particular, have received far more coverage than congestion pricing or anything else.

    I think it goes without saying that, in and of itself, congestion pricing doesn’t necessarily make a city more bike-friendly. Copenhagen — also covered extensively on the blog and StreetFilms, is very bike- and ped-friendly and it didn’t take congestion pricing to get that way. There’s no reason to believe that simply implementing congestion pricing in NYC will suddenly make it a cyclists’ paradise. I don’t think I’ve ever ready anyone make that claim here on Streetsblog.

    As for London — yes, I agree. In many ways, London is behind NYC in terms of bike-friendliness (though I think the most dangerous thing about biking there is that everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road — seriously).

    But did you ever get the chance to visit London before congestion pricing to make a comparison? London has pedestrianized huge swaths of the center city since the start of pricing, Trafalgar Square most notably. There are many more buses than there used to be and they run faster and more reliably. The Tube is still a pain in the ass but it’s better funded. Cycling is up something like 400% over the last five years. There are so many more bikes on the street than there used to be.

    What’s allowing London to make all of these kinds of improvements is the fact that they’ve created a new, dedicated revenue stream and have freed up all of this street space using congestion pricing.

    Bottom line for me is any policy that can take 120,000 cars a day off the street while raising hundreds of millions of dollars a year for transit sounds pretty good. Hell, they could flush all the money down the toilet and it’ll be a boon to cyclists, pedestrians and bus riders to get rid of all of those car trips.

    So, I just don’t see what your gripe is. If you’re looking for a fight, I suggest you call your City Council member immediately…

  • JF

    London has pedestrianized huge swaths of the center city since the start of pricing, Trafalgar Square most notably. There are many more buses than there used to be and they run faster and more reliably. The Tube is still a pain in the ass but it’s better funded. Cycling is up something like 400% over the last five years. There are so many more bikes on the street than there used to be.

    What’s allowing London to make all of these kinds of improvements is the fact that they’ve created a new, dedicated revenue stream and have freed up all of this street space using congestion pricing.

    Which is why this New Scientist article completely misses the point:

    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg19726382.200-commentary-wouldbe-traffic-herders-beware.html

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