Today’s Headlines

  • NJ Transit Overrun By Patronage, Corruption, and Incompetence, Says Fired Agency Watchdog (Politico)
  • Queens Pols: In NYC, Only Transit Riders, Not Drivers, Should Pay for All Their Trips (News, AMNY)
  • It’s Easier to Do Congestion Pricing With Cashless Tolling, Which Is the New Normal in NYC (NYT)
  • Lewis Lehe Has the Authoritative Account of How Congestion Pricing Works in Other Cities
  • Driver Critically Injures 6-Year-Old Boy on E 33rd Street; Police Blame Victim (DNA)
  • 12 People Injured in Two Car Crashes in Queens Over the Weekend (Post)
  • Drunk SUV Driver Plows Into Backhoe on the Bruckner, Injuring Passenger (News)
  • One of America’s Top Dems Came Out to Mark the Installation of a Signalized Crossing in Flushing (TL)
  • EDC: Riders Satisfied With EDC Ferry Service (NY1)
  • Liam McCabe Campaigns for Mayor of Parkingtown (Eagle)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Fool

    Hm. I wonder if the PANYNJ and MTA are so distinct from NJT?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Those “Queens Pols” are actually “Generation Greed” pols.

    And while people like them have been in charge, not only was the MTA Capital plan defunded (and operating revenues diverted) leading to a massive debt that sucks up much of the MTA’s massive dedicated revenue base.

    Those SOB state legislators did the same thing to the “Transportation Trust Fund” for roads, starting at the same time, early 1990s. To the point where most of those tolls, gas taxes, sales taxes on autos, etc. are going to past debts not new road and bridge maintenance. Which is why Cuomo is searching the cushions for money for things such as the new Tappan Zee.

    Tribalism — us out borough people vs. those Manhattan people, us drivers vs. those transit people — is a great way to distract attention from the way Generation Greed has robbed those to follow no matter who they are and where they live. These are the people who did it. If they are reading this, I know what you did, and I know that you know.

  • Maggie

    At least give the pols in that photo, standing up to defend endless congestion and free driving while subway and bus riders suffer, credit for fully representing the vibrant diversity of Queens. So in-touch with the melting pot of their borough.

  • Joe R.

    Here we go again with the myth of the middle class outer borough resident who has no option but to drive into Manhattan. Shame on these people for playing this card yet again after the data tell us it’s a myth. The only outer borough residents who drive regularly into Manhattan are placard holders. Nobody with half a brain is driving in from eastern Queens. It’ll easily take you two hours each way during rush hour. As bad as the subways are, they’re usually faster than that.

  • sbauman

    As bad as the subways are,

    About 75% of all NYC residents live within 1/2 mile of a subway station. None of Mr. Grodenchik’s constituents does.

  • Joe R.

    No, but most of them live near regular bus service to a subway station which at least makes public transit viable for going into Manhattan. I’ll be the first to admit local public transit in places like eastern Queens sucks but it’s still the fastest way into Manhattan, other than late nights.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Here is what people should be talking about. We have a double-blind test of democracy right here in New York City.

    The City Council has term limits. The state legislature does not.

    Which organization is more in touch with the needs and opinions of the CURRENT residents of NYC? Which is more concerned with a better (or at least not worse) future, as opposed with primarily protecting the privileges of the past? Which is more or less corrupt?

    I won’t vote for any incumbent NY state legislator running for any office. Including the one they currently hold. On the topic of thieving from the future and the younger generations who will live in it, one thing the PTB made sure of is that their cronies hold the offices of city and state comptroller.

  • sbauman

    More than 50% of Mr. Grodenchik’s constituents live more than 2.46 miles from a subway stop. It’s more than 4 miles for 20%. The average bus trip for eastern Queens is 2.25 miles.

    Bus service isn’t that viable. The subway destinations are the most congested in the City. That’s followed by a long subway trip. A car offers a seat for the entire journey.

    N.B. I had the pleasure of voting against Mr. Grodenchik, when he was my assemblyman. This may be the single issue, where his concern for his constituents is genuine.

  • Joe R.

    Still, compare that to driving all the way into Manhattan, which is easily 2 hours each way during peak times. Seriously, the LIE is a parking lot by me in the AM and PM rush. And then you have the expense of parking in Manhattan. I don’t see how anyone working a middle class job can even afford a car, let alone $500 a month to park it in Manhattan. These people would have to be spending most of their take-home pay just on their vehicle.

  • Ian Turner

    Only 6% of his constituents drive alone to the CBD. Most who do commute to the CBD do so by transit.

  • Sarah Sikandar

    Hi Maggie! I’m a Journalism student/reporter at Columbia working on transit beat. Have been tracking your involvement in the issue for some time. Would love to talk to you further on this.

  • Vooch

    the war on cars video channel

  • They represent the entire spectrum ranging from Archie Bunker all the way to Edith Bunker.

    Damn, Queens can be so embarassing sometimes.

  • sbauman

    The data for your reference dates from the 2000 census, probably the journey to work data. That data is no longer part of the decennial census, starting in 2010. The data was based on answers to the long form and was resolved to census tracts.

    The congestion charge for this data extends to 86th St. This was the first congestion charging proposal. There have been many more since then. The current Move NY congestion charging zone is 60th St.

    The chart shows that 25.5% work within the congestion pricing zone and that 8.2% take a car to the congestion pricing zone. Move NY doesn’t give a carpool discount, which accounts for the difference between 6.0% and 8.2%.

    Tthe percentage of Grodenchik’s constituents who work in the CBD that would be subject to the congestion toll would be 8.2% of 25.5% or 32%. The 17 year old data tells us that 1 in every 3 of Grodenchik’s constituents who work in the CBD would be subject to the congestion toll. This is the same interpretation of the 17 year old data.

  • rao

    Re-reading Donald Shoup on parking benefit districts made me realize something. The bridge-toll idea has a poor alignment of costs and benefits. In Pasadena, Shoup realized that in order to support higher on-street parking charges, the people who would have to pay them (or who would change their behavior in response to the increased cost) needed to feel they were the prime beneficiaries of the revenue. Plans relying on bridge tolls fail that test. Rather than bridge tolls, a more focused plan targeting a smaller area
    of Manhattan would probably defuse opposition and stand a greater chance
    of both political and technical success.

    The proposals being floated charge people at a cordon line a relatively low toll in order to reduce congestion over a large area, while handing the revenue over to the MTA. Frankly, the benefits from this scheme would be so widely diffused that they might be unnoticeable to those who paid the charges. The crossings would still be congested yet would not get any of the revenue for improvements. There might be less congestion in some parts of Manhattan, but that would benefit many people who would not have to pay anything, not least Manhattan drivers who never cross a cordon line. Those who now drive across the bridges and would either pay the new tolls or take transit instead would feel they are being singled out unfairly and getting little in return.

    (I think that most of the political opposition is very skeptical of the idea that congestion at the crossings would actually be reduced much; they can see that the existing tolled facilities are congested despite the charge, suggesting that the true market-clearing price would be much higher than what is being proposed.)

    A charging zone encompassing a smaller congested district, such as the rectangle between 34th Street, 57th Street, and Third and Ninth avenues, would be fairer and more likely to succeed. Then the costs and the benefits would be in better alignment: almost every driver in that district would at some point cross the cordon and have to pay, while the benefits of reduced traffic would also be focused on the same area. The money could then be used for badly needed improvements within the district, including pedestrianization for those would would choose to walk in a more pleasant and lightly trafficked area rather than pay a toll or increased cabfare. Moreover, a successful demonstration there might also convince other parts of town that congestion charging could benefit them as well.

  • Sarah Sikandar


  • djx

    “Still, compare that to driving all the way into Manhattan, which is easily 2 hours each way during peak times.”

    You’re saying you know better than those commuters which is better for them. Typical of you.

    It’s fine to point out the societal cost they are imposing on others. But please stop pretending you know their own interest and experience better than they do. It’s know-it-all BS.

    “I don’t see how anyone working a middle class job can even afford a car,” You’re literally advertising your ignorance and using that as an argument that you’re right. W T F

  • Joe R.

    You’re literally advertising your ignorance and using that as an argument that you’re right.

    Do the math for owning a car. Average cost is about $9,000 annually according to AAA. Add in the cost of parking in Manhattan (easily $500 a month). That’s $15,000 a year in after tax expenses, which means probably $21K in earnings pre-tax. Add in just essentials like housing and food. Don’t see how you can afford a car on a middle class salary of $40K or so unless you’re living with your parents rent-free. I was making over $100K for the last few years and I couldn’t have afforded a car, not that I wanted or needed one.

    You’re saying you know better than those commuters which is better for them.

    I’m looking at the travel time. Usually shorter travel times are “better”. It’s rare for the subway to take longer than driving during peak hours. Off-peak is another story. Maybe some people can make a good case for driving if they have off-hours, make good enough money to afford a car, or are moving heavy loads. Those are the people who should welcome measures to reduce congestion given that they’ll be the primary beneficiaries.

    My main point is even looking at places like eastern Queens, less than 10% are going to be affected by a congestion charge. The idea that this is somehow a major burden on the poor working slob is a myth. Are there better ways to reduce congestion? Probably. I’d seriously consider bans on SOVs during peak times, perhaps even during part of the rest of the day. I’d eliminate curbside parking in Manhattan. I’d probably also pedestrianize minor cross streets so only those who live there or deliver there have access. In a way congestion charges rub me the wrong way because we’re letting those with money pay to do things which impose costs on everyone else. I’d rather in certain parts of the city we just tell everyone, rich included, that there’s no private car access here. I feel if the wealthy had to use the subways to get around, like they do in other countries, there might actually be real political pressure to improve them.

    It’s fine to point out the societal cost they are imposing on others. But please stop pretending you know their own interest and experience better than they do. It’s know-it-all BS.

    The problem here is most people couldn’t care less about the societal cost they impose. That’s why you have to resort to other tactics, like showing how an alternative could be better. You may not realize it, but some people are so wedded to their cars they don’t care if it takes twice as long and costs five times as much. Maybe they just need to be better educated on the alternatives. I’ve known a lot of stubborn people who insist the subway takes 5 hours every time you use it. They use that to not only justify always driving, but to tell me I’m nuts for not doing the same. I’ve been on the receiving end of know-it-all BS from friends, teachers, family, coworkers. At least my suggestions are usually somewhat fact-based. You can argue car travel times to Manhattan if you want, but in the end the data already shows driving is slower than the subway on average.

  • Joe R.

    The absolute number is still under 10%. Every policy is going to have winners or losers. With no congestion charges, less than 10% in Grodenchik’s district win. Well under that in other districts win. Everyone else loses with more pollution, slower buses, more MV related deaths and injuries. When a policy benefits upwards of 90% of the electorate, then to me implementing it seems like a no-brainer. Certainly we can tweak the idea, perhaps move the cordons, or take other measures to discourage driving, but the idea we should stick with the status quo which hurts a supermajority makes no sense.

  • vnm


  • vnm

    Excellent article by Lewis Lehe. My takeaways: 1) London’s Congestion Charge “has made inner London dramatically safer: it has reduced the number of car crashes, the number of fatalities and the rate at which cars crash.” Setting aside the benefits for transit riders and motorists that would result, the safety benefit is reason enough to at least try it here. 2) No one who thinks pricing is a good idea should ever use the word “scheme” on this side of the pond, even when giving the caveat that “it’s the British sense of the word.”

  • AnoNYC

    Don’t forget about toll shopping. Tolling the bridges would reduce usage of the free crossings (more drivers would opt to stay on the LIE and drive through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel rather than exit for the Queensboro for example). That alone is a huge benefit in itself.

  • Vooch

    might be a fun article

  • Ian Turner

    You can slice and dice the data however you like, but the bottom line is that only a tiny minority of his constituents would pay the charge; and the vast majority stand to benefit. I welcome a new analysis with more recent data; but I doubt much has changed.

  • djx

    “I’m looking at the travel time.”

    No, you’re guessing/BSing on travel time.

    “Add in the cost of parking in Manhattan ”

    Those people are not paying for parking. You can say they should (your prerogative, and I probably agree), but they’re not.

    “I’ve known a lot of stubborn people who insist the subway takes 5 hours every time you use it,”
    I see at least one stubborn person who insists driving from Queens to Manhattan typically takes 2 hours. LOL.

  • djx

    “It’s rare for the subway to take longer than driving during peak hours. ”

    The comparison is walking+bus+subway (because we’re talking about places not served well by subways) versus car. Please stop the sleight of hand.

    “My main point is even looking at places….”

    I don’t care about your main point. My main point is you just make shit up. Even if your main point is right, please stop just making shit up to back it up – that’s weak.

  • Joe R.

    Already figured the total time. I just should have been clearer. For me it takes 35 to 45 minutes door to door. At the height of peak hours that could exceed one hour. From the further out fringes it might take 15 or 20 minutes longer. You can get some idea of average travel times by looking at train/bus schedules, adding in average waiting times.

    It usually takes 30 minutes just to get across the Queensboro Bridge during peak hours (and I’ve been over by car enough to have some idea of average travel times). And then the LIE is a parking lot. I beat the pace of traffic on my bike during peak times. So do the math based on that plus the distance. Probably 40+ minutes drive time from eastern Queens to the bridge, 30 minutes over the bridge. Add in time to look for parking since you claim these people don’t pay for parking. Free curbside parking in Manhattan isn’t exactly abundant. You could be driving around many blocks to find a spot. With average Manhattan travel speeds in the single digits that’s not going to be quick. Now add the walk from wherever you parked to your final destination.

    Funny why you haven’t offered your own numbers. Probably you realize they’ll just be anecdotal stuff based on your own personal experience.

    Off-peak hours are another story but we’re talking about peak hours when the external costs of driving are highest. I frankly don’t care what someone does at 2 AM. They’re not delaying anybody by driving that time of night.

    This article just shows many drivers are a stubborn lot and nothing, including similar or lower travel times, would get them to switch:

    Manhattan to downtown Brooklyn 51 minutes by car: