We Win!!!… a Trip to Albany?

This morning’s Crain’s Insider names Streetsblog one of the winners of Monday’s congestion pricing vote in City Council. While we’re honored, no one around here is spiking the ball or dancing in the end zone until New York’s famously dysfunctional state legislature is done doing whatever it is they’re going to do to the plan. Richard Brodksy is, for now, a loser who "overplayed his hand."

Crain’s also names Staten Island Councilman Mike McMahon one of the losers. They suggest that his support of congestion pricing has ruined any chance he has to win the Borough presidency. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Crain’s is wrong about that.

Only 5.8% of Staten Island’s Central Business District commuters travel by car. Most of these drivers already pay a toll. Since the toll is discounted, congestion pricing wouldn’t add all that much of a burden to all that many Staten Islanders. More significant, Staten Island is a big winner if congestion pricing passes. I’ve gotten a sneak peak at one of the new Bus Rapid Transit projects planned for the traffic-choked borough. I can’t say much about it except that it is outstanding and will be the most exemplary BRT line in New York City if it goes forward as planned. It’ll be a huge benefit in a borough where traffic congestion is the number one quality of life issue.

Thanks to his yes vote for congestion pricing, Mike McMahon is the guy who can say he brought this project home. Meanwhile, McMahon’s likely opponent Jimmy Oddo is the guy who turned his back on the best opportunity in a generation to solve Staten Island’s ever-worsening traffic problem.

  • Larry Littlefield

    They seem to be assuming passage. You can’t tally up the winner and loser ranks until the vote in the legsialture — and the later fallout in the city and state budgets.

    Let’s say CP goes down in Albany, and then due to accumulated debts and falling transfer taxes you get service cuts and more fare increases at the MTA. Not an unlikely scenario.

    People who might have been angry about the tolls will be fat and happy. But everyone else could end up furious at those who were against CP. That makes the Councilmembers voting yes winners, and their opponents losers.

    On the other hand, let’s say CP is approved in Albany, Silver (who knows better) says OK, we’ve done our part, and everything is the fault of the “unaccountable MTA.” And then due to those same broader budgetary factors fares go up and service is cut even so. Not an unlikely scenario. Then some of the winners could become losers.

    Again, the hand was tipped when Silver had the MTA release its next capital plan as part of this process. He knows the score, if he didn’t already. Now everyone can. The game is to avoid blame for what is coming, as a result of what has already been done. Silver is good at that game.

  • Shemp

    Larry, how about writing a column about your scenario for doomsday fare hikes and service cuts and letting it stand for a while, so you don’t have to post comments about it here 5 times a day?

  • Moser

    Agree with your thought on McMahon. What if pricing is approved and is a smashing success in its first year? Then McMahon looks smarter than the rest.

    Crain’s gets the margin of passage wrong here too in the comment about Queens groups.

  • Josh

    Well, let’s hope it is a smashing success then.

  • momos

    “Upon casting his nay vote, Councilman Lew Fidler, D-Brooklyn, thanked the website for indulging him and engaging in a meaningful debate on the issue.”

    That’s much appreciated. Lew’s position on CP has struck me as sincere and principled, and not a calculated ploy to play to the galleries. Honest, substantive debate is what democracy should be all about. Though I vehemently disagree with Lew’s position, hats off. Thanks Lew!

  • Hilary

    I find Larry Littlefield’s analyses particularly enlightening and hope they keep coming…

  • Larry Littlefield

    (I find Larry Littlefield’s analyses particularly enlightening and hope they keep coming…)

    Thanks, but Shemp is right. I’ve been in a bad mood since reading through the proposed MTA Capital plan. It’s worse if you see it coming — kind of like being tied to the tracks as a train approaches, rather than stepping off the curb and being hit by a bus.

    Shemp, I wrote three posts on that plan on Room 8. You can read those and the plan itself.

    There is one valid point made the Assemblyman in the post above — CP would not be an ongoing source of support for the transit program, because the proposed capital plan assumes it would be bonded against — so CP revenues after 2013 would be spent before 2013.

  • Josh

    “That’s much appreciated. Lew’s position on CP has struck me as sincere and principled, and not a calculated ploy to play to the galleries. Honest, substantive debate is what democracy should be all about. Though I vehemently disagree with Lew’s position, hats off. Thanks Lew!”

    Agreed. Lew goes out of his way to come here and discuss policy with people who he knows will, for the most part, disagree with him. (I mean, we won’t necessarily disagree with him about everything, but on this one particular point anyway.) The city needs its elected leaders to act more like this.

  • Spud Spudly

    Yes, I’d like to thank Lew for getting my back on this one, even if he does get all the credit. But would Josh vote for me if I ran for office? (I guess I’d have to use my real name then.)

    Anyway…..Hi Crain’s!!!


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