Congestion Charging Rumor Mill

kiley.jpgThree congestion charging rumors, all from excellent, though, un-named sources:

1. Bob Kiley, the Transport for London Commissioner who oversaw the design and implementation of that city’s successful congestion charging system is joining Parson’s Brinckerhoff in New York City. Parsons is the global engineering firm that has been leading the Partnership for New York City’s secretive, years-long congestion charging study. The move has not yet been announced publicly and it is not known what his specific title or role will be. Clearly, Kiley would be an ideal candidate to get a congestion charging system up and running in New York City. Before revamping London’s transportation system, he served as Chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and President of the Partnership for New York City. Word has it that Bob and his wife Rona are looking to move back to the United States from London within the next three to six months.

2. Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Michael Primeggia was in London last week to attend the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress meeting. At the conference Primeggia and other delegates were invited "to see first-hand innovative projects such as the Congestion Charging scheme and the cutting edge technology powering London’s Transport Control Centre and London Underground’s Network Operations Centre," according to London Mayor Ken Livingstone. My source speculates that Primeggia is charged with looking at how a congestion charging system might be applied to New York City (forgive the pun). The agency has not responded to queries on that.

3. Finally, a City Hall source says that after the 2012 Olympics bid died Mayor Bloomberg started looking for a significant transportation legacy to leave behind and his administration’s second term reorganization of DOT and the development of the City’s Office of Long-Term Planning are a part of that. But time is tight to do anything significant on the transportation front. Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff is really "breathing down the neck" of the Long-Term Planning Office to deliver a solid product within the next two months. In fact, Doctoroff often likes to remind his Long-Term Planners exactly how many hours they have left before their deadline. There is speculation that the Long-Term Plan will include discussion of congestion charging based on ongoing research by the Partnership for New York City.

At the end of her speech at the Manhattan Transportation Policy Conference yesterday, Commissioner Iris Weinshall referred to the new Long-Term Planning effort, saying, it is "considering a wide range of strategies to shift travel away from the automobile and onto transit" and she expects that it "will include some big ideas." Could one of those big ideas be congestion charging or is this all just wishful thinking based on hearsay? Borough President Stringer now refers to congestion charging as "an applause line" in Manhattan, at least. Clearly, it is no longer the political death trap that it once was. So, what are the odds that the Bloomberg Administration will put a serious congestion charging proposal on the table before the start of the ’09 campaign season?

I say, 2-to-1. It’s a little bit hard to imagine a Mayor putting such a big idea on the table right before the end of his second term. Then again, maybe that’s the best time to do something as politically treacherous as congestion charging…


DOT Commissioner Water Cooler Chatter

Sources say… Janette Sadik-Khan is a front-runner to take over as DOT Commissioner after Iris Weinshall leaves the job on April 13. "It’s her job. She just has to decide whether she wants it." Joan McDonald, senior vice president at the Economic Development Corporation, has been ruled out. She will not get the job. Dan […]

Congestion Pricing: The Public Conversation Begins

The New York Sun has the first of what will be a littany of congestion pricing stories coming out in the next few months. Finally, with city and state elections out of the way, New York City is about to embark on a substantive discussion of its transportation, traffic congestion and long-term sustainability issues. Some excerpts below: While Mayor […]

Rumor Confirmed

A couple of different sources tell me that Bob Kiley is moving back to New York City to take a position with Parsons Brinckerhoff, the global engineering firm with a lead role in Partnership for New York City’s secretive, long-delayed congestion pricing study. Kiley is generally credited as being the architect of the system that […]

Stockholm: Congestion Charging is Likely to Continue

Last month residents of Stockholm, Sweden voted in a citywide referendum to continue that city’s experiment with congestion charging. By charging motorists a fee to drive into the city center, congestion charging had successfully reduced the amount of time Stockholm motorists spent waiting in traffic by 30 to 50 percent while significantly reducing air pollution and providing […]

Congestion Charging on the Horizon for China’s Cities

Which Chinese city will be the first to try congestion pricing? Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai — megacities whose populations are on the scale of New York’s? Or second-tier but still mighty cities (think Chicago) like Hangzhou, Nanjing, or Xi’an? Road tolling à la American turnpikes and thruways is already extensive in China, as a means to […]

StreetFilm: Talking Transportation with Bob Kiley

Talking Transportation with Bob KileyProduced by Cicala FilmworksRunning Time: 13 minutes 7 seconds The debate over congestion pricing has been heating up in advance of Mayor Bloomberg’s big Earth Day speech tomorrow. What better time to get some talking points on the matter from Bob Kiley, who served as the Commissioner of Transport for London […]