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Congestion Pricing

Wednesday’s Headlines: Fact-Free Editorial Board Edition

The Post glazes over congestion pricing's proven benefits to gin up outrage. Plus more news.

12:00 AM EST on February 7, 2024

Photo: Josh Katz

The New York Post Editorial Board has long been estranged from the truth, but its latest diatribe on congestion pricing is a full-on ugly divorce.

The tabloid — which backed congestion pricing until the tolls actually got in motion — now insists the tolling program "by most account ... won't actually reduce congestion."

Not true: The MTA's environmental review of the tolls forecasted 17 percent less congestion in the Central Business District tolling zone and 9 percent less congestion regionally. Congestion toll guru Charles Komanoff believes that will result in "a double-digit rise in average CBD travel speeds."

But The Post didn't stop there, suggesting that lower speed limits would lessen gridlock — never mind that average Manhattan travel speeds are far, far below the city's 25 mph limit (and that lower speed limits save lives). The board also inveighed against Gov. Hochul's plans to increase penalties for toll evasion in line with those for fare evasion and make it a felony to evade more than $1,000 worth of tolls — arguing that people who skip on the $2.90 subway fare should be punished "worse" than drivers who skirt much larger bridge and tunnel tolls.

Even if one accepts the NYPD's claim that 45 percent of farebeaters have open warrants for other crimes, that's not a reason not to cut slack to turnstile hoppers with otherwise clean records. A separate Hochul plan would give transit fare violators a warning for their first offense and a $50 fare card if they pay the $100 fine for their second. Fines would escalate $50 for each subsequent offense, with the fifth offense earning charges from the district attorney.

Worst of all, however, the Post editorial derided progressives for saddling the "hoi polloi" — drivers — with the toll, a premise that willfully ignores the hundreds of thousands more "common people" who ride packed buses at snail's-pace speeds on congested streets and subway lines plagued by years of under-funding and deferred maintenance. The MTA's toll review found just 5,200 city residents commute into the CBD and live more than a half-mile from high-speed public transit.

And, lest we forget, residents who commute into the central business district by car are on average wealthier than their transit-using neighbors. That's just the Census talking, not the "progs" that the Post wrongfully disdains in this case.

Millions of people ride the city's subway and buses each day; a few hundred thousand drive. The Post's "hoi polloi" is a straw man meant to gin up outrage, cut costs for the wealthy who choose to use cars to get to most transit-rich business district in the country — and screw the city and most commuters in the process.

That editorial was more death throes than death knell.

In other news:

  • New Jersey gets its day in court against congestion pricing on April 4 — and won't be able to raise new constitutional concerns it neglected to include in its original lawsuit. (Samantha Liebman via Twitter)
  • Mayor Adams was in Albany on Tuesday for his annual pitch for funding. Streetsblog's Dave Colon covered Hizzoner's easily debunked claim to have done an "amazing" job installing bus lanes. Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, meanwhile, pressed Adams on placard abuse in downtown Brooklyn. Watch the exchange below:
  • Both the mayor and Council speaker demurred when legislators asked if they supported congestion pricing (NY Post) — though the mayor also pointed out some of pricing's benefits, our own Kevin Duggan reported.
  • Anti-Vietnam War activist out to get food was killed by tow truck driver in Alphabet City. (NY Post)
  • The MTA continues to beat the drum on the negative impact of anti-congestion pricing lawsuits on sorely needed capital improvements. (CBS New York)
  • NJ Transit is not prepared for the 2026 World Cup, commuters warn. (Gothamist)
  • Today's ginormous SUVs can easily bust throw highway guardrails, and that's a problem for taxpayers. (Slate)
  • Read how one Queens activist went from COVID mutual aid to "open streets" organizing to aiding migrant newcomers. (NY Mag)

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