The Move NY Fair Tolling Plan Is Polling Better Than Congestion Pricing

Toll reform is polling better in New York City than congestion pricing did, even when pollsters don’t mention that the Move NY plan would mean billions in transit revenue.

Capital New York’s Dana Rubinstein reports

“Would you support or oppose a plan to charge tolls on the East River bridges, which go into Manhattan, and at the same time reduce tolls on the bridges between the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island?” a Quinnipiac University pollster asked New York City voters earlier this month.

The voters were divided, 49 percent against, 41 percent in favor.

Support fluctuated by borough — it was strongest in Staten Island and the Bronx — and was about the same among voters who drive to work (51-43 percent opposed) and those who take transit (49-42 percent opposed).

These are stronger numbers than congestion pricing got in 2007 and 2008. The proposal for a road charge below 60th Street in Manhattan during rush hours polled in the 30s, generally, when transit revenue was not mentioned. Pricing polled in the high 50s and low 60s when it was framed as a way to keep fares low.

The Move NY plan, developed by transportation consultant “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, would establish a Central Business District cordon at 60th Street and add tolls to East River bridges, while tolls on outer-borough crossings would be reduced. The plan calls for removing the Manhattan parking tax rebate and adding a taxi trip surcharge. It would raise nearly $1.5 billion a year, with a quarter of revenue dedicated to road and bridge maintenance and the remainder to transit capital and operating funds.

Congestion pricing has risen in popularity in cities that have implemented it. Despite intense opposition beforehand, after three years 70 percent of Londoners said that city’s road pricing program was effective, and twice as many supported the charge as opposed it. Though it doesn’t yet have a champion in Albany, a coalition of interests, from the Straphangers Campaign to AAA New York, has coalesced behind the Move NY toll reform proposal. There’s room for its poll numbers to climb, if the upside for transit is part of the framing.

Here’s another figure for state lawmakers to consider: In 2007, 87 percent of voters said traffic congestion was a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem. This month it was essentially unchanged at 86 percent.

  • Bolwerk

    Demographic shifts perhaps? Every year that goes by, the number of transit-dependents goes up at least a little and the number of car-dependents stays flat or perhaps even declines.

    And the people who most fervantly oppose CP/trolling are the “Generation Greed” Larry Littlefield talks about. They’re older, and the ones who don’t die are the people who would take their plunder and migrate to Florida. Demographics are surely against them.

  • Komanoff

    Happening now: Crain’s on-line poll on the Move NY Fair Tolling plan: Vote!

  • armyvet05

    I would like to know at what amount the Move NY plan would price motorcycles and scooter. Any info appreciated. (Move NY has not responded to my request for such information).

  • Komanoff

    Fair question. I don’t know that we (at Move NY) have a position. What price do you think is appropriate?

  • armyvet05

    Thank you for the reply question! I think we could look to our European counterparts. From what I have read the toll for two wheel motor vehicles is often a substantial discount (half or less), or in cases where they want to mitigate traffic, zero. I think a fair measure would be to look to these countries and develop something similar based on type, wheels, and weight. Certainly the current Port Authority EZ Pass “discount” of one dollar is not what I would consider fair.

    I’d love to see responsible motorcycling encouraged in the US like it is in Europe.

  • Alec

    Indeed, one of the big problems with the original congestion pricing plan of 2007 was that motorcycles and scooters would have been charged at the same price as cars to enter the congestion zone. You can easily for 6-7 motorbikes into the space of one car, so frankly, even a 1/2-discount isn’t enough. In London, two-wheelers are simply exempt from tolls.

  • lop

    Make it free unless they don’t have a muffler. Then charge them double.

  • lop

    Motorcycles and scooters take up significantly less space than cars, and encouraging their use would seem on its face to be a good thing.

    However, other considerations should be taken into account.

    From the Move-NY page listing the groups guiding Principles:

    ‘Safer. Transit incidents and vehicle crashes must decrease; ditto for smog-related health problems.’

    Do motorcycles have to meet the same emissions standards as cars? I don’t mean CO2. Would an SULEV or PZEV car have greater NOx, VOC, CO emissions than a typical motorcycle? I wouldn’t want to see dirtier vehicles encouraged, even if they take up less space on the street.

  • PeterJavsicas

    The two-cycle engines of motorcycle and scooters are much more polluting – and way noisier than cars. If you’ve spent any time in European cities, you must remember the cacaphony.

  • breather

    By default charge full price. Vehicles with an EPA smog rating of 8 (SULEV) or higher should be encouraged. Allow them to register for a nominal fee to cover administrative costs, and then they either receive a discount, or if they are scooters/motorcycles (in addition to 8+ smog rating or equivalent emissions) or cars that have a smog rating of 10 they get to enter for free.

    Dirty motorcycles that contribute to smog as much as several modern cars should not be encouraged.

  • armyvet05

    Most newer street motorcycles meet California/EPA emissions standards.

  • Tyler

    I don’t think commercial traffic should be tolled heavily…. I get that trucks are an easy target because they *have to* use the bridges/tunnels/roads, but it just doesn’t strike me as appropriate. To me, the public roadways should be prioritized for the greatest social good. That is health and safety first, but then goods and commerce second. Mass transit is up there, but if there are no goods and services, there’s no real need for moving people around.

    Why do I have a feeling there would be exceptions for ambulettes (a profitable business model that happens to be related to healthcare), but not for the truck delivering drugs (and Doritos) to Duane Reade.

  • Flakker

    I agree except for the part about zero-emission cars entering for free. This will play into critics’ whine that congestion pricing favors the rich, and it will, in a few years, lead to just as many vehicles, albeit cleaner ones, clogging the roads.

  • lop

    California standards for motorcycles are much less stringent than they are for cars. For 10,001-14,000 lbs LEV requires less than 7.3 grams CO per mile. What I can find for motorcycles requires less than 20 grams per mile. By comparison SULEV requires those large trucks to emit less than 3.7 grams CO per mile, and cars 1.0 grams CO per mile. With a much longer emission durability than motorcycles. Meeting the bare minimum for motorcycles shouldn’t be enough for them to get a discount. The bigger issue with motorcycles is that many use two stroke engine cycles that emit significantly more PM than cars. I can’t find PM standards or emissions levels for motorcycles, do you have any handy?

  • lop

    Any discount would have to be phased out eventually as cleaner cars come on the road.

  • armyvet05

    I can’t speak to your numbers as being correct (can you provide the link where you got that information? It seems out of date), however VERY few motorcycles on the road are two strokes, the great majority are 4 stroke. Any two strokes will likely be older motorcycles or cheap scooters.

    Motorcycles could certainly be more smog efficient but manufacturers don’t sell those models in the US (profit margin) and I think manufacturers would bring those bikes to the US if there was increased demand- so lower the tolls (or make them free) and increase demand for motorcycles, and then increase regulations regarding smog/incentive for manufactures to bring European/Asian models to the US. Leaving tolls equal won’t increase demand. Increased motorcycling can lower fuel consumption, ease traffic and lead to lower emission from bikes. It is a win/win but there needs to be an incentive.

    Once again I think we can look to European standards for better answers. They include emissions standards.

  • PeterJavsicas

    In my view, a better alternative (and I think this will happen) is to incentivize electric scooters. New designs can even safely carry more freight. And with our ingenuity
    I’m sure there’s room for further improvement. Electric scooters can be much quieter and cleaner than motorcycles. I know this won’t satisfy motorcyclists, because they really seem to love those bikes!

  • Flakker

    It would have to be, yes. I’m talking about the immediate-term politics of getting this passed, though. I hope I’m wrong, but I anticipate massive hysterical resistance just like last time.

  • armyvet05

    Or, you can do both!

    Electric scooters are great for short city based travel, but they cannot get me through Manhattan and then out to Long Island. But if more people making that trek are on motorcycles there will be less traffic.

  • PeterJavsicas

    Sounds good to me!

  • lop

    Plenty of dirty scooters are running around NYC already. They shouldn’t be encouraged. Even four stroke engines are dirtier than cars if they don’t have the same emissions control technologies that clean cars have. At $10.66 per day, figure 250 days a year, it would be cheaper for someone to buy a dirty scooter than drive their car in, even before parking, if you let them in free. At a 50% discount $1250 a year would be enough to cover the premium on clean cars, I would assume the same for motorcycles as well.

    Lowering fuel consumption doesn’t necessarily do anything for local pollution. Especially with mopeds and scooters. Part of why they’re cheap is they don’t have to meet the stringent emissions requirements for new cars, or even the weaker ones for motorcycles in some cases, and emissions control technologies can be expensive.

    Since part of the goal is to reduce smog, some mechanism for encouraging cleaner vehicles seems necessary. That means there has to be a way to register an EZ-pass to a specific vehicle. There are going to be cameras to bill those without EZ-pass, so maybe it would be possible to spot check vehicles to see if they are the same make and model as the one registered, with significant fines if you use a discount EZ-pass on a dirtier vehicle, so it would be enforceable.

    Increase demand for clean motorcycles and cars. Not dirty ones. Fitting twice as many vehicles that each pollute several times as much would be a disaster.

  • armyvet05

    I don’ think it would be incorrect to say the great majority of the scooters you mention are delivery scooters- so it would be easier and more fair to target those scooters through business regulation rather than punish all motorcycles through tolls.

    I’ll take a look at the docs you provided.

  • armyvet05

    Not to mention- most of those scooters aren’t traveling toll roads!

  • WoodyinNYC

    Confiscate and melt them down if they don’t have a muffler.

  • PeterJavsicas

    On the other hand, Armyvet, how about this? I’m not saying go out and buy it, but it shows what could be feasible.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Communities near the “free bridges” are choking with congestion. We need some basic load balancing.

  • nycbikecommuter

    That makes a lot of sense to me: East River bridges should NOT be free during rush hours, but either free or reduced on nights and weekends. Bridges Between Queens and Bronx should be reduced or even free on weekends for 2+ HOVs since they’re pretty much the only way for families to get out of town on weekends.

  • lop

    Does London have incredibly lax standards for emissions from two wheeled vehicles? Because that’s the case here. Fitting 6-7 vehicles that each pollute as much as a dozen clean cars (Subaru Forester 2.5 for example) would be a disaster.

  • tachyonzero

    Raise the toll to a hundred, enough to pay MTA and Port Authority’s retirement plan, pension plan, college plan including Las Vegas vacation plan.
    Enough sugar coating, these are the things they really want to fund.

  • John

    Once the Tolls are on they will never come off and once one goes up they all go up. Don’t think it will lower the other bridges tolls. If the other bridges do go down it will be for 1 year and then the MTA and Port Authority will say will have to raise the tolls for something else

  • buck_mcqueen

    Are you simple? Most motorcycles and vespas are 4-stroke, pollute way less and take up less space than cars trucks and buses.


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