112,000 Less Cars

Here are more points from Friday’s PlaNYC Hearing

  • Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff estimated congestion pricing would remove 112,000 cars from city streets on a daily basis, with 94,000 would-be drivers switching to transit, in what he said would be "Probably the single greatest mode shift anywhere."
  • DOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Schaller said that whatever edge effect might be felt would be countered by removing 112,000 cars from traffic.
  • Using existing E-ZPass technology, congestion pricing fees would be enforced by employing one camera per lane at 300 to 340 stations.
  • Assembly Member Richard Brodsky more than once referred to congestion pricing as a "regressive tax," and seemed fixated on what motorists would gain in speed inside the congestion pricing zone. Brodsky’s Friday line of questioning was encapsulated in one pre-hearing quote from the Daily News: "Why is this worth a regressive tax on the middle class and a new invasion of privacy to go only six-tenths of a mile further in an hour?"
  • Also said by Assemblyman Brodsky during the hearing: "privacy values"; "tremendously unpersuaded"; "I don’t have a plan, Mr. Doctoroff."
  • Queens Assembly Member Cathy Nolan leveled the mayor with a number
    of pointed questions and comments about the magnitude and efficacy of
    the pricing scheme. Nolan, a strong supporter of public transit who is
    considered a thoughtful lawmaker by many advocates, wondered why no
    Environmental Impact Statement was required and why the City Council
    did not need to pass a home rule message before the state legislature
    considered pricing. Deputy Mayor Doctoroff answered that pilot projects
    do not need an EIS. He added that a home rule message was not required.
    Nolan followed by asking why fees from residential parking would
    potentially go the city’s general fund and not a dedicated transit
    fund. She also asserted that the worst air pollution hotspot in Queens
    was at the tolled Queens Midtown Tunnel and not the untolled Queensboro
    Bridge. Implicit in Nolan’s remarks is that pricing does not work. She
    concluded by calling congestion pricing "extremely problematical" for
    areas outside Manhattan.

  • Responding
    to a query from Nolan, PlaNYC Director Rohit Aggarwala said that panel
    trucks, of the type owned and operated by many small businesses, would be
    subject to an $8 fee. The $21 charge would apply to large trucks, as
    defined by the MTA, exceeding a weight of 7,000 pounds.
  • Mayor Bloomberg said residential permit parking may or may not be established in conjunction with congestion pricing.
  • Assembly Member David Gantt, who chairs the Transportation Committee, worried about the burden of "poor" people who might drive into the city ignorant of the fact that there is a congestion charge, and who would end up owing exorbitant late fees. Bloomberg assured Gantt there would be plenty of publicity and signage.
  • James Brennan, assemblyman from Brooklyn, asked the mayor what would happen if transit trips take so long that outer borough residents make the "rational choice" and decide to drive anyway. Bloomberg replied that even if congestion were not reduced, the charge would still enable needed transit investments.
  • DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan was unable to attend due to previous plans to be out of the country.