Jessica Lappin: Congestion Pricing Advocate

This recent constituent e-mail shows that Council Member Jessica Lappin’s lukewarm support for congestion pricing seems to have turned into full-fledged support now that the proposal has no chance of being implemented (taking a page out of Assemblywoman Joan Millman‘s book). In Lappin’s defense, she did vote for pricing when it came before the council. But it might have been helpful had she found her voice a few months — or even weeks — before the plan went to Albany.

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Thank you for contacting me in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal. As you probably are aware, on March 31, the City Council approved a home rule message authorizing the state to approve Mayor Bloomberg’s plan. The vote was 30 members in support and 20 against. I voted in support of the proposal. However, neither the State Assembly nor the State Senate acted in time to move this plan forward.

Anyone who drives in New York understands that congestion is a major problem, particularly in the Central Business District (CBD). Heavy traffic doesn’t just anger and inconvenience drivers. It impacts our economy and environment as well. It is estimated that congestion costs the city $11.6 billion worth of lost business revenue, productivity, operating costs, and fuel and vehicle costs. In addition, because of our poor air quality, New York City asthma hospitalization rates are more than twice the national average.

Congestion pricing was one significant way to address these issues. It would have reduced traffic, improved air quality and public health, and provided critically needed funding for mass transit. Currently, our public transportation system is stretched to the limit. Nowhere is this more evident than the East Side. The Lexington Avenue subway line is operating at 110% capacity and, with 65,000 riders daily, the M15 is the most heavily utilized bus line in the Western Hemisphere.

Congestion pricing would have allowed the city to receive a one-time federal grant of $354 million for short-term mass transit improvements and allowed the city to use the congestion pricing fees to bond out an estimated $4.5 billion for major transit projects. These funds would have gone towards critical capital projects like the Second Avenue Subway, Bus Rapid Transit on First and Second Avenues, and East River ferry service. In addition to these large scale projects, if congestion pricing has been implemented, my Council District will have benefitted immediately from these short term transportation improvements:

  • 46 new subway cars, primarily for the E & F lines
  • 5 additional buses on the M101/M102/M103 lines
  • 4 additional buses on the M86 line
  • 2 additional buses on M66 line
  • 3 additional buses on M31 line
  • 6 additional buses on M15 line
  • 10 additional buses on X90 line

Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing these short term transportation improvements any time soon. However, I remain committed to the long term goal of reducing traffic and improving air quality in our city and will continue to work with our city’s elected leadership to advance those goals.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me on this issue. I heavily weighed your views, and those of my other constituents, in formulating my position. As always, please feel free to contact me with any specific questions about this or any other issue facing our city.

Sincerely,

JESSICA LAPPIN

Council Member

5th District – Manhattan

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