Lew Fidler’s 9 CARAT STONE Plan Lives!


Move over, Ted Kheel. On the eve of the Congestion Mitigation Commission deadline to sign off on some form of congestion pricing, Lew Fidler tells the Observer he will introduce his own 9 CARAT STONE plan to his colleagues on the City Council tomorrow.

The Fidler Tax’n’Tunnel proposal, for those who’ve somehow forgotten, would avoid congestion pricing by, among other measures, increasing parking rates and traffic violation fees, building $18 billion in tunnel infrastructure, removing one-way truck tolls, moving city agencies out of Manhattan’s Central Business District, and convincing the federal government and/or automakers to develop hydrogen cell vehicles. It would be paid for through a one-third of one percent regional payroll tax.

Fidler says his support is diverse. "I want to be very clear," he told me. "I have co-sponsors for elements of this plan that are ardently in favor of congestion pricing, ardently against it, and people who haven’t yet committed. But even if they’re in favor of congestion pricing, and they put their name next to one of my resolution points, they think that point is a good idea, and some of them [the resolutions] survive with or without congestion pricing."

Fidler said it’s not likely his proposal will go to a vote before congestion pricing, since in addition to the mayor, the City Council Speaker supports congestion pricing. "What’s wrong is my plan isn’t part of the debate," Fidler says.

Fidler’s plan was analyzed by Environmental Defense and the Pratt Center for Community Development last year, who concluded that it, along with proposals by Congressman Anthony Weiner and Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free, would promote driving.

Photo: Lila Glogowsky

  • If I was Lew I’d figure out some way to stop Streetsblog from using that photo.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    You of course neglected to mention that I have 11 resolutions for my plan and they are co-sponsored by an average of 24 members per resolution. That was the point.

    But as to the photo, my wife likes it, which is all that matters. The photographer, bless her, was LILA, not Lisa Glogowsky, and if you are going to use the photo, you should at least give the summer camp which was the subject of the reunion a shout out, none other than Camp Boiberik, now closed and on the premises of the Omega Institute.

    Much lebedik and freilach was had by all.

    Lew from Brooklyn and Boiberik

  • da

    Lew, would you care to respond to the charge that your plan would promote more driving?

  • Dave H.

    Why is Streetsblog spending so much time on Lew Fidley’s plan? Assemblyman Fidler seems like a genuinely well-meaning legislator, dedicated to his constituents and laudably open to dialogue. Yet most all readers agree that his plan is not only unlikely to reduce driving but also unlikely to be adopted by the City and State. So why keep returning to it?

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Dave, because it has 24 co-sponsors inthe City council. But thank you for your kind words.

    I never knew that the purpose of CP was to reduce driving. I thought it was to promote revenues for mass transit, reduce congestion and clean our air.

    I think I have explained why my plan does those three things. I know there are streetsbloggers who opppose the use of cards. We differ. Certainly, if cars no longer polluted [hydrogen fuel cells] one element of their obnoxiousness would be completely mitigated. I can never satisfy those who say cars kill.

    However, if traffic moved more quickly, didn’t pollute and we could raise added money for mass transit, would you still object?

    Lew from Brooklyn, still giddy from hearing of the Mets’ acquisition of Johan Santana for virtually nothing

  • Brad Aaron

    Councilman Fidler,

    The point was to get it out there that you would be bringing the plan before the council. The quote I pulled from the Observer piece indicates that you have co-sponsors, and of course there is a link to the original post.

    I actually did a bit of research on Ms. Glogowsky’s name before posting, and found her identified as “Lisa” on the Boiberik photo album page, though the photo link says “Lila.” I picked the wrong one, and have corrected my mistake. All apologies.

    Note that I also included a link to the Boiberik page where the pic — which I happen to think is a great shot, too — originally appeared.

  • Lew writes: “I never knew that the purpose of CP was to reduce driving. I thought it was to promote revenues for mass transit, reduce congestion and clean our air.”

    You can’t reduce congestion in a city as dense as New York without reducing driving. The problem is that a person driving a car takes about 10 times as much space as a person riding a train, bus, or bike – and there is not enough space in a dense city for all the cars.

    The only way to eliminate congestion is to charge a price for road space that makes demand equal to supply.

    It is generally true that, if you give away a scarce and valuable resource (such as roadspace) for free, you will create shortages.

    Lew’s tunnel would not reduce congestion any more than Robert Moses’s expressways reduced congestion. Provide the extra roadspace and tell people they can use it for free, and people will immediately fill up that extra roadspace.

    Likewise, if you told people they could go to Camp Boiberik for free, you would not have enough space for all the people who came.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Charles, you CAN reduce congestion but improving traffic flow, making alternatives to autos more attractive and available, managing traffic more efficiently, planning the City in a way to diverge traffic out of the CBD. My plan does all those things. It may well reduce drving, but it will surely reduce congestion.

    And enjoy the Boiberik link guys. It was a great summer camp.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    I will say if more Councilmembers had the guts to comment here, we’d all be better off. I may not agree with Lew, but do appreciate his presence here.

    Go Mets!

  • Hilary

    But you CAN reduce congestion without reducing driving – that’s what Iris Weinshall did so well, if by congestion you mean traffic that’s moving at less than optimum speed. She figured out ingenious ways to speed it up (often by increasing VMT, as one-way and no-turn thru streets do.) The result is that Manhattan is a grid of highways, sometimes crawling but more often rushing way above the speed limit. We need to have the courage to say that reduction of driving IS the goal – along with eliminating bottlenecks, which contribute disproportionately to pollution. Reduction of VMT is a criterion of the CP plans, but the public debate keeps avoiding being forthright about what this means: less driving.

  • George Foster


    Why would you move jobs out of the CBD – isn’t that where the subways take us?

  • Lew from Brooklyn


    The subways go both ways. During the morning rush, they are at less than capacity running out of the CBD. Vice Versa during the evening. Why not move those City agencies that do not NEED to be in the CBD to commercial strips in the outer boros along those emptier train runs?

    Makes for better utilization of the subways. Train ride is the same distance. Good for the economy of the outer boro commercial strips. Saves the City on the exorbitant CBD rents. Releases some pressure on the commercial rental market in the CBD.

    Whaddya think, George?

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Lew writes: “you CAN reduce congestion but improving traffic flow, making alternatives to autos more attractive and available, managing traffic more efficiently.”

    Many decades of experience proves otherwise. If you increase capacity, either by using traffic engineering methods to increase flow or by building new freeways, traffic increases to fill the new capacity.

    Lew, one study in California found that, within 5 years after a new freeway is built, 95% of its capacity fills up with traffic that would not have existed if the freeway had not been built. The same will happen with your tunnel, at much greater cost.

    The reason is obvious: if you give away a scarce and valuable commodity (such as urban road space) for free, you will create a shortage. Elementary economics tells us that the way to eliminate the shortage is to charge the right price.

    Lew, you might as way say that you want to give away gasoline for free – and that you think there won’t be a shortage, if you use engineering to produce gasoline to produce gasoline more efficiently and if you spend money to promote public transportation.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Why not move those City agencies that do not NEED to be in the CBD to commercial strips in the outer boros along those emptier train runs?)

    You know the answer. Because only the center –Manhattan — has transit access to the entire region. If you build a government complex in Coney Island, those living along the former BMT southern division might take the train, but everyone else will drive.

    That said, it makes sense to have installations attracting customers from limited areas in those areas. I never understood this idea of going to Manhattan for health care, another CP objection. People in Brooklyn insist on having babies in Manhattan, and have them on the Brooklyn Bridge instead.

    If you want to propose a government complex for Broadway Junction, East New York, it might make sense. At least those from north Brooklyn, south Queens, and Nassau and Suffolk could get there by train. I’m not sure civil servants would want to work there, however.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I find a lot of the outer borough opposition to congestion pricing counter productive. If the charge is so economically oppresive won’t it tend to drive business and employment to Kings Highway, Grand Concourse, Queens Boulevard as business seek to avoid the congestion charge in Manhattan? Isn’t that something good for the economies of those neighborhoods? Congestion Pricing could in that view be an economic stimulus for the outer boroughs.

  • Hilary

    Niccolo, It should help small businesses but hurt big box retailers and other businesses that draw (driving) customers from Manhattan. That, too, shouldn’t bother residents of those neighborhoods who can expect to see a significant drop in traffic on their streets.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Now you are onto senor Bloomberg’s contradictions, the Mayor of the Big Box store has discovered induced demand for driving space in his sunset years.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    The policy changes that enabled big-box stores to be built throughout the city happened under Giuliani. Of course it’s disappointing that Bloomberg didn’t reverse those changes, but it’s a stretch to call him “the Mayor of the Big Box Store.”

  • Bobby Bonilla


    It’s true that subways go both ways, but Manhattan is easier to reach for most commuters. Suppose you live in, say, Sheepshead Bay. Would you want to start commuting to the South Bronx or Long Island City by train? Probably not. This might even cause you to start driving.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Certainly true, in the same sense that “safe streets, safe cities” began under Dinkins. However, not only did the Big Boxes continue under Mayor Bloomberg but accelerated and he even encouraged the evil WalMart empire to move in.

  • Johan Santana

    The patina of green on EDC and DCP is about as deep as it is on the Statue of Liberty. But that’s OK, hybrid taxis will save the day.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Forgive my absence. I was at City Hall all day doing the job i get paid to do. Not ducking.

    It is true that the CBD is the CENTER of the City. And I guess you would be mighty pissed off if the agency that you work for moved to the other end of a subway line. You would surely have to make the choice of whether to take the commute or transfer to another location. I do not take that lightly, but surely after an initial adjustment period for existing workers—and I doubt it would affect that many—the situation would nrmalize. And yes, Larry, areas like Broadway Junction are what I have in mind. Rockaway Parkway in Canrsie at the end of th eL line as well.

    I do not accept the logic of build a new freeway exaample. One would HAVE to assume that if someone planned a freeway for a route, they built based upon projected need. If it wren’t being used to capacity, it would reflect awfully bad planning.

    That’s all I got for the end of this long day. By the time we get to the blogs tomorrow, the Sham Commission will have reported out the plan that the Bloomberg administration has told them to report. Fundamentally anyway. The issue will be finally engaged.

    All I ask—though I doubt it will resonate here—is that you keep an open mind. CP is not the holy grail. The objectives are the goal. Not the method.

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Corey Bearak

    Re: Charles Siegel’s comment. If Yellow Taxis were not permitted to cruise for riders but required to proceed to a nearby taxi stand if they existed, VMTs would decreased by more thatn double the Federal requirement to qualify for the grant (and the measure in the state law). So a reduction in the number of vehicles per se is not the issue, it is what the vehicles do when they are within the CBD or zone (or whatever name one chooses to give it.)
    (And I share the CM’s giddiness over the Santana acquisition.)
    An hour ago I came home from the Forest Hills Parking meeting organized by NYCDOT and their consultants; I am fascinated by the outreach or perhaps lack thereoff because I think there were less than 20 Forest Hills residents. CB6Q Joe Hennessy advised his board voted down the CP scheme. That brings it to at least six Queens boards taking a position and all opposed. What I found most interesting is something expected all along in Queens. 30% of the midday parking (presumed park and riders) have non-NYC license plates. Unless Forest Hills has a heck of a lot of residents with Florida plates or Long Island addresses (think auto insurance), the local congestion involves non-city residents. Yet all along the CP schemes target city residents and do so disproportionately when one looks at incomes of city and non-city residents who’d pay the tax.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Although Corey and Lew continue to flog long discredited positions there is not really any need for anyone to defend themselves on the “open minds” issue. It is a always a neat trick in forestalling debate to accuse your opponent of your own obvious flaws.

    One thing might be worth engaging Corey’s position on is the decongestion associated with better taxi organization (no reason not to do it anyway, just a little enforcement effort, speaking of enforcement, what are Lew Fidler and Corey Bearak doing to get more red light and speed cameras onto city streets, is there a bill I don’t know about?). Whatever decreased congestion associated with better taxi cues will only allow more cars to come fill up that space.

    That is one element of all of the anti-CP positions that never gets resolved. One of the largest costs of driving into the city is the time wasted in congestion. Remove that cost however with no congestion fee and more cars will drive in to fill up that space just vacated. That is true of the taxi alignments they present herein and any of the other (including Weiner’s truck program) of the non-CP alternatives.

    Lew will get his opportunity to vote. Yeah, he is doing his job in the City Council. That will last until the end of his term. After that, try to find another job, maybe in the Weiner administration. DOT Commish Fiedler? I’m sure we can expect a lot from that in terms of vibrant street life.

  • Corey Bearak

    Whatever decreased congestion associated with better taxi cues will only allow more cars to come fill up that space.” says the nom de pen of “The Prince.”
    So under under Niccolo’s scenario, what is to prevent the rather to super wealthy from filling up the space he projects to exist under a congestion tax with their luxury vehicles. Or is that outcome acceptable?
    The Congestion tax and its toll/tax variants represent nothing less than a gentrification of Midtown and downtown streets.

  • JF

    Corey, if you can afford to pay $10,000 a year to park a car in Midtown or Downtown…

    Congratulations, you’re gentry!

    (apologies to Eddie Hernandez)

  • JF

    Put another way, talking about “the gentrification of Midtown and Downtown driving” is like talking about the gentrification of Great Neck or Scarsdale. You can’t gentrify something that’s been the exclusive privilege of the wealthy for years.

    BTW, the streets will not be gentrified. The middle class and the poor will continue to have easy access to midtown and downtown streets – by subway, just as we have since 1904.

  • And as far as “filling up” is concerned, the nice thing about pricing resources is that the price can go up as supply runs out. The more it goes up, the more a limited number of super wealthy or occasional drivers pay to expand our subways and suface rail. Tragic!

  • “However, if traffic moved more quickly, didn’t pollute and we could raise added money for mass transit, would you still object?”


    Yes. The private auto, whether gasoline, electric, or hydrogren, is a threat to all life on earth. The subsidized auto promotes sprawl. Sprawl is unsustainable at current levels. The world population is growing at the rate of one New York City per month.

  • Transit Gentry

    Corey glad you’ve come clean and essentially admitted you are an advocate for the wealthy in what you frame as a struggle between the wealthy and super-wealthy. This deluded crock of shit about the poor not being able to drive into Manhattan was getting really tiresome.

    Now come all the way out of the closet and start letting us now about the hard lives and desperate struggles faced by your only wealthy constituents as they strive to climb the next rung to super-wealth. I’ll be down in the subway with all the people from Queens who will still be paying to get into Manhattan, whether or not congestion pricing happens.

    Incidentally, Niccolo Machiavelli was a political philosopher who espoused democracy and republican governance during a period of petty despotism. “The Prince” is an analysis of city state despots, not advocacy for them. Machiavelli was jailed and tortured for his democratic sentiments and political leadership.

  • Queens Bus Rider

    Corey Bearak asked:

    what is to prevent the rather to super wealthy from filling up the space he projects to exist under a congestion tax with their luxury vehicles.

    Same as in London, Corey: Using congestion pricing revenues, we will reallocate the newly freed up street space to buses, bikes and pedestrians.

    Have you ever experienced riding a bus on a dedicated bus lane, a lane totally free of single passenger vehicles, double parkers and yellow cabs? It’s pretty great. It actually makes the bus work, something most New Yorkers can hardly even imagine.

  • Felix

    Corey, If those luxury vehicles are subsidizing my mass transit ride I’m fully behind the “gentrification” of Manhattan streets.

  • Heffron

    Just b/c the CBs in Queens are against congestion pricing doesn’t mean they speak for everyone in Queens or even a majority. Those Community Boards are not elected and in fact when I tried to join my own I was told I would have to wait until someone died to get a spot. When we attended the CB1 meeting on CP we were shouted down, not allowed to speak as long as or ask as many questions as opponents of CP and fliers that had info about how CP would reduce traffic on the QBB were not allowed to be distributed b/c some members said they were “heinous lies”, despite the fact that all of our statistics were footnoted on the flier in question. They were removed from the table with all the other handouts on this classification without the members of CB1 having to prove their accusations that we were “lying”. Some representation for the community.

    And I don’t know about Forest Hills Parking Workshop, but the LIC one had about 40 people attending. Everyone at my table of 8 participants was from the LIC/Astoria area or owned a business in the area.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Dear Mr. Machiavelli,

    I have NO expectation of serving in the Weiner Administration. AND I assure you that I will serve as DOT Commissioner in NO Administration. [I am sure that is a relief to streetsbloggers] In fact, I believe on eneeds a certain educational/professional background to serve in that position.

    For the record, I did not support Mr. Weiner’s Mayoral ambitions lasst time. I was the first and last Freddy Ferrer supporter. And Freddy was RIGHT. We are creating two cities here…for the haves and have nots, and the may and may nots. We will rue the day that we go to residential parking schemes in this City.

    Grab a hold of yourselves and examine this divisive issue before you buy into to so you can sell CP.

    Lew from Brooklyn


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