“Lock Box” Provides $39M for Livable Streets, Ferries, BRT

Last week Streetsblog reported on the Traffic Commission’s proposal to create a "Livable Streets Lock Box" fund from parking revenue and taxi surcharges generated in the congestion pricing zone. If created, the fund could become a substantial new source of money for bicycle, pedestrian and public space projects in New York City. The fund would be controlled by the Department of Transportation per the approval of City Council. Its creation would mark the first time in the modern era that a dedicated transportation fund will be created in New York City. Currently, all parking revenue disappears into the City’s general fund.

Now, thanks to documents published by the Traffic Mitigation Commission, we have a better idea of how big this Livable Streets Lock Box fund will be: Roughly $39 million a year. As spelled out in the "Increase Cost of Parking" document in Appendix J of the Commission’s final report:

Annual Funding for NYC DOT Fund:
$22 million Eliminate Manhattan resident parking garage tax exemption:
$17 million
Increase rates for on-street parking (widely considered a low estimate).
Total: $39 million

Though perhaps modest by London standards where the Mayor just announced that the City would be spending $100 million a year on bicycle projects, the Fund could get bigger in the future if it also receives revenue from curbside parking reforms being contemplated by DOT. However, big questions about how the money will be spent remain. The Traffic Commission called for the fund to be spent on:

"transit, pedestrian, bicycle, and parking management improvements, including, but not limited to, expanded ferry service, bus signalization, BRT investments, bicycle facilities, and pedestrian enhancements."

Yet, in her State of the City address earlier this week, Council Speaker Christine Quinn called for the creation of a "comprehensive five-borough, year-round New York City Ferry System." Ferries require heavy subsidies. The Staten Island Ferry costs the city about $74 million a year to operate and New York Water Taxi is currently going bust. Quinn’s proposed ferry network will be expensive. And yet the city is entering a period of budget cuts.

The Speaker is in a powerful position right now. The Mayor is dependent on her to deliver congestion pricing in City Council. So, how will Quinn’s new ferries be paid for? Is she aiming to redirect the Livable Streets Lock Box funds to ferries?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Congestion Pricing Plan Includes a “Livable Streets Lock Box”

|
There is a nice surprise for City Council, neighborhood groups and transportation reformers in the congestion pricing plan approved by the Traffic Mitigation Commission yesterday. On page 8 of the plan, in a section called "Securing of parking revenues," the commission proposes dedicating all revenue raised within the congestion pricing zone from additional parking meter […]

Congestion Pricing Bill: Fun With Legalese

|
After months of following the step-by-step evolution of the congestion pricing proposal, there’s a certain satisfaction in seeing familiar concepts codified in legislative language. To wit, we hope readers who’ve been tracking Streetsblog’s coverage of this topic enjoy these excerpts from the bill. Parse away. On short-term transit improvements: The authority [MTA] shall provide for […]

Congestion Commission Recommendation: First Look

|
Streetsblog has gotten hold of the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission recommendation, which should be voted on this hour. According to the version we have (pdf), the commission’s alternative to Mayor Bloomberg’s plan is expected to exceed the 6.3% VMT reduction required by the federal government, and raise an estimated $491 million per year for mass […]

Weiner Imagines Paying for His Traffic Plan With a Gas Tax Raise

|
  Though reporters weren’t invited, Streetsblog managed to get a stringer into this morning’s On-and-Off-the-Record transportation policy talk with Congressman Anthony Weiner at Commerce Bank in Midtown. During the hour-long Q&A hosted by Edward Isaac-Dovere of City Hall News, Weiner hit on familiar themes: Something needs to be done about traffic but the mayor’s plan […]

Weiner on the Environment: Big Talk, Small Stick

|
Where’s the beef? Under Rep. Anthony Weiner’s plan, vehicles, like the one above, would not be charged a fee to use New York City’s most heavily congested streets On Monday evening, just hours before the federal government’s announcement that it would give New York City $354.5 million to kick-start Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, Rep. […]

Neighborhoods and Parking Reform: Show Them The Money

|
Now that the Legislature has said "no" to pricing streets, attention has turned to pricing curbside parking. It’s no secret that meter rates are ridiculously low. This is because the DOT has been told by generations of mayors to keep the price down in an effort to appease motorists. The cost of this ill-considered gesture […]