Staten Islanders Keeping an Open Mind on Congestion Pricing

"Walking is Transportation" blogger Dan Icolari has extensive coverage of last night’s seventh and final Traffic Mitigation Commission hearing on Staten Island. He reports "a notable unanimity" among Staten Island’s elected representatives. "Even South
Shore Republican Councilman Vincent Ignizio — a reliable foe of
government whose salary is paid by government — said that despite great
skepticism, he was determined to keep an open mind."

All elected officials who attended (Borough President James Molinaro
sent a representative) declared their support for some sort of
congestion mitigation program––but only if Staten Island’s share of the
dollars on offer from the Feds were made commensurate with the problems
of a borough whose average commute is acknowledged to be the longest in
the entire country.

Staten Island may be New York City’s most car-oriented borough, but Icolari notes that many of those who testified at last night’s hearing advocated for improving mass transit:

Patrick Hyland of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce expressed
his organization’s support for Congestion Pricing, provided five
thoughtful recommendations that address a range of transit-related
problems experienced island-wide are implemented. Significantly, every
recommendation involves mass transit.

•Reinstitution of rail service (roadbeds are deteriorated but right-of-way is intact)
•Increase in the number of Bus Rapid Transit routes (the first and so
far the only such route was instituted earlier this year; ridership was
surprisingly strong from the beginning and continues to grow)
•Fast ferry service to and from the South Shore–the most remote and
least well served by mass transit of the island’s three community board
•Full extension of the currently limited-distance express bus lane on the Staten Island Expressway, and
•A fourth bus depot (the third, already in the MTA capital budget, has already been outpaced by demand for express bus service)

The hearing, amazingly, adjourned 10 minutes early, at 8:50 pm. Icolari writes:

I took the bus
home. No one else from the hearing joined me. We’ve obviously got a lot
of work to do on Staten Island.
But the (very) conditional willingness
of many Staten Islanders to at least consider some sort of pricing
scheme to reduce traffic and improve local mass transit services was


The Perfect Argument for Congestion Pricing

The Staten Island Advance ran an article last Thursday about a "perfect storm" of crushing Staten Island-bound traffic on the Gowanus Expressway and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. To give you a sense of the frustrated tone of the article, it was entitled "21-Month Nightmare: Agency Offers Zero Solutions for Verrazano Lane Mess." Here’s how it began: […]

Ignizio: NYC Should Tell Drivers Where It’s OK to Run Reds

You’ve got to hand it to City Council Member Vincent Ignizio: If nothing else, the man is consistent. Ignizio has a long history of opposing measures to make streets safer and improve transit. The Staten Island rep’s greatest hits include a proposal to subject NYC bike lanes to environmental review, killing the bike lane on Father Capodanno […]

We Win!!!… a Trip to Albany?

This morning’s Crain’s Insider names Streetsblog one of the winners of Monday’s congestion pricing vote in City Council. While we’re honored, no one around here is spiking the ball or dancing in the end zone until New York’s famously dysfunctional state legislature is done doing whatever it is they’re going to do to the plan. […]

Gridlock Sam’s Compromise Plan

As if we didn’t already know it, last week’s Traffic Mitigation Commission hearings revealed that opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan among outer borough and suburban legislators may very well be intractable. Even in traffic-crushed districts where one would almost certainly find a majority in favor of some form of congestion pricing, we didn’t […]