Highlights of Yesterday’s Traffic Commission Meeting

Deputy Commissioner Bruce Schaller’s team at the Department of Transportation has been taking ideas offered up by Traffic Mitigation Commission members and running them through NYMTC’s regional traffic model. Schaller’s job is to help the Commission determine how effective each of these ideas will be in cutting traffic and reducing total vehicle miles traveled in New York City. To keep its $354.5 million federal transportation grant, the City must reduce VMT 6.3 percent using road pricing.

Schaller presented his findings at yesterday’s Commission meeting. You can flip through his presentation above (though, I recommend clicking through to the Slideshare web site and viewing the larger version). Since the first and most important slide is too small to read, here is the list of the traffic reduction ideas that Schaller’s team has been modeling either as alternatives, supplements or modifications to Mayor Bloomberg’s original proposal (you’ll note that Lew Fidler Tax’n’Tunnel plan didn’t make the cut):

  • Night delivery incentives
  • Telecommuting incentives
  • Increasing the cost of parking in the CBD
  • Taxi stands
  • Surcharge on taxi and livery fares
  • East River Bridge tolls
  • License plate rationing
  • Required carpooling
  • Creation of High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes
  • Changing the northern boundary
  • Charging to drive on the FDR and West Street
  • Changing the hours / variable charges
  • Changes to the toll credit policy
  • Exempt hybrids.

Aside from Assembly member Richard Brodsky’s continued treatment of the scrupulous, forthright Schaller as the quintessential evil government bureaucrat (Brodsky knows exactly how important it is to attack the credibility of the "Keeper of the 6.3%"), the highlight of yesterday’s hearing, for me, was an exchange towards the end on government employee parking permits.

GaryLabarbera.jpgBrodsky was pressing Schaller for more detailed modeling of the VMT impact of reducing the number of government-issued parking placards when Teamsters president Gary LaBarbera, pictured right, cut in with strong objections. LaBarbera didn’t want Schaller or anyone to do any additional modeling — or talking — about government-issued parking permits. I couldn’t quite type fast enough to keep up with him, but this is pretty close to exactly what he said:

Parking permits are a form of compensation for teachers, firefighters and police officers. I don’t believe in employees losing benefits or compensation. We’ve got to think seriously before we talk about taking away this benefit from one segment of our community; teachers, firefighters and police officers.

So, there you have it. Though you won’t find it accounted for in any City budget, spelled out in any City employee contract, or fought over in any recent negotiation, union leadership believes government-issued parking permits are "a form of compensation." Now that LaBarbera’s put it on the table, the City and the unions can finally begin to account for this "form of compensation" and talk about exactly how much of it New York City’s hard-working civil servants are actually owed.