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Congestion Pricing

Wednesday’s Headlines: Let’s Call Bullshit on This Edition

12:03 AM EDT on August 18, 2021

Canal Street. File photo: Joseph Tedeschi

Mayor de Blasio was right to call the 16-month environmental assessment of congestion pricing "ridiculous" — and most of the papers (including Streetsblog, but also the Post, amNY) played it to the hilt.

And why not? Sure, we all understand that major projects need proper analysis (lest the government not get the consent of the governed), but the fact that the MTA claims it needs 16 months to study congestion pricing — which is, at bottom, a pollution- and congestion-remediation plan — strikes most New Yorkers as absurd.

After all, cars have been choking our air, killing our kids and ruining our neighborhoods for more than 100 years — and our government never did an environmental impact statement before unleashing that horror, now did it? But taking our roads, lives and lungs back from cars requires one? Come on.

The MTA has defended the lengthy timeline because 22 million residents of 28 counties, plus five Native American tribes, need their hand held before having to pay a toll to drive somewhere.

Meanwhile, the actual victims of car culture — a kid in Corona with asthma, a bus rider who's delayed by traffic, an old lady run down by a reckless driver — never get asked if it's OK for suburban commuters to treat their neighborhoods like a highway. No, we never get the environmental assessment of car drivers being allowed to drive wherever they want, whenever they want because residents of those suburban counties (and Joe Borelli in Staten Island) are drowning out the discourse by screaming, “Regressive tax! Climate hoax! Bike lobby! Elitism!”

Oh, but we did get an environmental assessment last week — it came in the form of the United Nations' latest climate change report, which said we are all doomed. You would think, when faced with the annihilation of the human race, our leaders might figure out that whatever they've been doing for the past 100 years isn’t working so well, so maybe they could dispense with the 16 months of begging suburbanites to let them try something new (which isn't new at all).

OK, time to jump off the soapbox. In other news (actually there was not any other news yesterday):

    • We-a culpa! For some reason, we keep forgetting to hype a great Daily News op-ed on the need for congestion pricing by Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum and Kate Slevin of the Regional Plan Association. Please read it now.
    • None of the majors covered the e-scooter launch in The Bronx, but we did (and so did The Verge, focusing on the lack of protected infrastructure in the Boogie Down).
    • The MTA seems to want to do ADA on the cheap, using ramps instead of elevators to cut costs. (The City)

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