Congestion Pricing Bill: Fun With Legalese

After months of following the step-by-step evolution of the congestion pricing proposal, there’s a certain satisfaction in seeing familiar concepts codified in legislative language. To wit, we hope readers who’ve been tracking Streetsblog’s coverage of this topic enjoy these excerpts from the bill. Parse away.

On short-term transit improvements:

The authority [MTA] shall provide for transit projects designed to mitigate projected immediate effects on ridership occasioned by the imposition of congestion pricing fees prior to the operation date.

On the transit lock box:

The authority shall establish a fund to be known as the “traffic congestion mitigation fund” which shall be kept separate from and not commingled with any other moneys of the authority…

[The fund reimburses the City and MTA for capital costs and administrative costs of pricing, and for the initial short-term transit improvements. The rest is for payment of bonds and capital projects.]

Such projects may include, but are not limited to, new buses and bus facilities, bus rapid transit routes, park-and-ride facilities, commuter rail improvements and subway expansion and rehabilitation. Congestion pricing revenues shall not be used for any other purpose. Priority in the distribution of funding shall be given to those areas in need of additional transit investments.

On the “livable streets lock box”:

There is hereby established a special fund to be known as the “transit enhancement fund” [financed by parking fees in the congestion zone]…  The revenues of such fund… shall be used solely to provide additional transit, pedestrian, bicycle, and parking management improvements, including, but not limited to, expanded ferry service, bus signalization, bus rapid transit investments, bicycle facilities and pedestrian enhancements.

On residential parking permits:

The city shall
complete the community planning process already underway with respect
to a citywide parking policy and a residential parking program prior to
the operation date. The city shall ensure that neighborhoods adjacent
to the congestion pricing zone are provided an opportunity to opt into
the residential parking permit program.

As expected, the bill goes on the describe RPP quite thoroughly. The details match what we heard from Mayor Bloomberg and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan at last week’s unveiling of the RPP proposal. But there is one surprise:

Fees collected pursuant to regulations authorized by this section shall be credited to the transit enhancement fund of the City of New York.

This means that fees collected from RPP would go towards the “livable streets lock box,” but before you get too excited, it’s worth noting that residents would not have to pay a fee to get a permit (they just have to prove residency). So would any revenue actually come from this provision? We consulted a source experienced in interpreting legislation, who said this language leaves the door open for RPP to serve as a dedicated “transit enhancement” funding stream, should fees be collected at some future time.

By the way, have we mentioned what DC is doing with parking revenues these days?