Brennan Introduces Alternative Pricing Bill in Assembly

044.jpgAssemblyman Jim Brennan, a Democrat from Brooklyn, has introduced a new congestion pricing bill, according to a statement released by his office. The bill contains some elements lifted from Mayor Bloomberg’s original proposal, including:

  • Re-instating the $4 intrazonal fee
  • Exempting drivers who cross into Manhattan below 60th Street but only drive on the periphery

If these changes were to be applied, against the recommendations of the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, it would result in higher administrative costs and more surveillance cameras. Although Brennan identified himself as a pricing supporter when the idea was first floated last summer, at this point his bill seems to undermine much of the approval process to date, including the contributions of the TCMC and the City Council’s vote on Monday in favor of a home rule message.

Brennan alerted his colleagues in the Assembly to the new bill this morning. His office told me it is too early to say whether the bill enjoys more support among Assembly Democrats, who are currently discussing pricing behind closed doors, than the version that the City Council approved. As of this writing, the bill has no co-sponsors.

UPDATE: The new bill would also require congestion pricing to come up for renewal in three years and prevent the MTA from issuing bonds backed by pricing revenue.

Brennan’s full press release:

Brennan Congestion Pricing Bill Authorizes Plan as an Experiment;

Exerts Full City Council Control over Residential Permit Parking;

Retains Elements of Original Proposal that Required Entrance into the Business District Before a Charge is Imposed

State Assemblymember Jim Brennan (D – Brooklyn) has introduced a congestion pricing bill. The new proposal takes a variety of ideas that have been advanced and blends them together to create a better plan, while dropping or changing several proposals advanced by the Traffic Mitigation Commission.

Key to this proposal involves authorizing congestion pricing as a three-year experiment, similar to the concept advanced by Mayor Bloomberg last summer. Authorizing the congestion pricing program as an experiment would assure that the MTA does not go into debt by selling bonds with congestion pricing revenue pledged toward the new debt, only to find that the program is unsuccessful in deterring traffic congestion. The congestion pricing revenue, estimated at $500 million per year, would still be directed to the MTA capital program.

The new bill retains two concepts advanced in the original Mayoral proposal from 2007. First, it would retain the $4 charge for auto trips originating within the zone. Short trips would be exempt. The proposal also only charges drivers crossing bridges and tunnels into Manhattan if they enter the zone. Under the Traffic Mitigation proposal just supported by the City Council, drivers who cross bridges and tunnels in to Manhattan but bypass the zone are still charged $8.

Another aspect of the Brennan bill would require full City Council approval of residential permit parking plans. This would assure that individual neighborhoods would not be able to create exclusive zones without the consent of all of the City government’s elected representatives. New aspects of the Council-supported program, such as a Port Authority contribution, a low-income tax credit, and prevailing wage, are included in the proposal, as well as a new compliance requirement for the MTA for the State’s MWBE program.

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