Monday, April 23, 2007

New York City's Moving Beyond Congestion Plan

The New York City area is wrestling with the same issues of congestion and population growth that face this region. An ambitious congestion relief plan for New York was released at about the same time that the RTA released its first draft of what became the Moving Beyond Congestion Plan.

On Sunday, Mayor Bloomberg announced New York City's somewhat awkwardly named PLANYC. It is an ambitious plan to Green and grow New York over the next 25 years. It makes every regional plan done for this region by our local public agencies seem positively antediluvian.

The Plan is very comprehensive, covering housing, air and water quality, open space, transportation, and the like. (Report is available here.) The non-transportation sections of the Plan are outside the scope of this blog, but well worth reading by anyone interested in urban issues.

The transportation section of the 2030 Plan is at least as creative as the other sections. Highlights include:

Congestion Pricing

The Plan proposes a three-year pilot congestion pricing program. Under the program autos driving into Manhattan south of 86th Street would pay $8 on weekdays (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The charge for travel by auto from points entirely within the zone would be $4. Trucks would pay $21 for travel into the zone and $5.50 for travel entirely within the zone.

The congestion charge would be collected through E-ZPass transponders (e.g., the Tollway's I-PASS) and through license plate photographs of vehicles lacking an E-ZPass.

New Regional Transit Financing Authority

The congestion pricing fees would fund a new Sustainable Mobility and Regional Transportation (SMART) Financing Authority. SMART would serve as the transportation infrastructure bank for the New York region, funding a wide variety of transportation-related projects, ranging from the Second Avenue subway to bike paths.

SMART will be governed jointly by the City and the State. It will be funded by the net proceeds from the congestion pricing program, estimated at $380 million in the first year, plus matching $220 million contributions from the City and the State. These contributions will be indexed to grow each year, helping to ensure a stable funding source to support bonds.

Moving People Not Vehicles

The Plan relies on a wide variety of strategies--e.g., bike lanes, ferries, improved connections between buses and subway stations, parking space pricing changes, bus rapid transit in some corridors--to accomplish its goal of improving mobility in New York. This is a welcome contrast to the Moving Beyond Congestion Report, which seems to view mainline mass transit as the solution to all transportation problems.

This Plan, and the willingness of Mayor Bloomberg to step up, take the lead on such an important and creative undertaking, and spend much political capital pushing useful but costly initiatives like congestion pricing makes me quite envious. Maybe Chicago gets the Olympics and New York gets a transportation system that ensures its long-term competitiveness in the global economy. Is is possible for Chicago to have both? It certainly risks getting neither.


Anonymous said...

Good for New York. Here in Chicago, the RTA always seems to look to Springfield and the state legislature when it wants more money, as if transit in the Chicago area is a state issue. The RTA is a municipal corporation created by referendum and should be operated by referendum. Meaning it should be required to put its funding and system expansion proposals to referendum so that voters in the RTA area can decide the size and scope of system they desire - and are willing to pay for directly. Transit bosses will not like this idea since they prefer to wheel and deal with legislators and lobbyists. Indeed, some of the bosses are former legislators, lobbyists or legislative staffers themselves. However, the RTA was created to guard the public fisc. It stands to reason that the RTA should ask the public what it wants to do with it.

PJS said...

Chicago can learn a lot from New York in this case. We should all be looking outside the region and state for the best new thinking to address our transportation problems. This is one area where NY has a leg up.

Little Blue PD said...

I think Mayor Nanny Bloomie is a very arrogant man. I also highly doubt he rides the subway that much. He's the mayor, I want someone driving him around so he can work and make calls and stuff. New Yorkers shouldn't want him wasting all that time on the subway.

We all have to wonder what Bloomberg is really thinking of with this congestion pricing tax scheme. Maybe he mostly just wants a new tax. Just wrap it up in ‘concern for the environment’, and then people can just demonize those who oppose it.

If he cares so much about traffic jams, congestion and air pollution, why does he let Park Avenue be blocked off? Why doesn’t he do anything about that?

It's true, Pershing Square Restaurant blocks Park Avenue going South at 42nd St. for about 12 hours a day/5 months of the year! This Causes Massive Congestion and Air Pollution!

But apparently it does not bother NYC’s Nanny-in-Chief Mike “Congestion Pricing Tax” Bloomberg?

It certainly supports his claim that the city is hugely congested.

Check out the map!

Check it out!


Little Blue PD