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Thread: Congestion charging in Manhattan: Bloomberg proposal

  1. #1

    Congestion charging in Manhattan: Bloomberg proposal

    So just a few days before this announcement, Mayor Bloomberg called the idea of congestion charging a "nonstarter" due to huge political opposition. On Earth Day, he proposed a three year pilot to charge cars $8 and trucks $21 for entering the busiest parts of Manhattan. By "busiest parts," he seems to mean everything below 86th street. Apparently any tolls on bridges and tunnels would be credited toward the daily charge.

    I agree that it's probably a "nonstarter" due to political opposition not only in Albany but also in NYC. I for one think it is a great idea, and hope something comes of it.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    All of the Hudson River crossings already have variable tolls.

    The Throgs Neck Bridge and the Brooklyn Battery and Queens Midtown Tunnels are already tolled. Essentially you're talking about tolling 3 bridges and traffic crossing 86th St.

    The only new toll collection infrastructure that should be added is to those bridges and to 86th St. The rest of the congestion charge should be applied to the tolls collected at the existing crossings and passed onto the city or to the MTA via EZ-Pass, which is the way the system is already set up.

    There's no need to make it complicated and while their may be some vocal opposition in parts of B'lkyn and Queens they number of people in favor of it vastly outnumbers them . . . and unless politicians are ready to grab sack and raise state-wide taxes for additional MTA funding they're going to have a hard time telling New Yorkers that they can't tax themselves.

    That's a political potato so hot that no one in Albany is going to touch.

    Edited to add: I think they've got the car/truck thing backwards. No truck driver comes into Manhattan because he things it might be fun. It's for deliveries. Trucks should pay $8 cars should be $20.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post
    All of the Hudson River crossings already have variable tolls.

    The Throgs Neck Bridge and the Brooklyn Battery and Queens Midtown Tunnels are already tolled. Essentially you're talking about tolling 3 bridges and traffic crossing 86th St.

    The only new toll collection infrastructure that should be added is to those bridges and to 86th St. The rest of the congestion charge should be applied to the tolls collected at the existing crossings and passed onto the city or to the MTA via EZ-Pass, which is the way the system is already set up.

    There's no need to make it complicated and while their may be some vocal opposition in parts of B'lkyn and Queens they number of people in favor of it vastly outnumbers them . . . and unless politicians are ready to grab sack and raise state-wide taxes for additional MTA funding they're going to have a hard time telling New Yorkers that they can't tax themselves.

    That's a political potato so hot that no one in Albany is going to touch.

    Edited to add: I think they've got the car/truck thing backwards. No truck driver comes into Manhattan because he things it might be fun. It's for deliveries. Trucks should pay $8 cars should be $20.
    Well, here's the catch with the "just toll the bridges" idea: MOST of the vehicle traffic in Manhattan originates in Manhattan (according to page 142 of the plan's Transportation Tech Report). They've crunched the numbers on congestion pricing, and it would make a pretty big hit on VMTs and total vehicles--especially on SOVs (14% SOV VMT reduction in zone).

    Tolling more bridges might be more palatable and could be a decent compromise. As it is now, even Manhattanites are split on congestion charging and every other borough is overwhelmingly opposed to congestion pricing. Albany doesn't have veto power, they actually have to authorize congestion pricing before it can get off the ground. Like you said, the "hot potatoness" of it might motivate them to just do nothing (which means nothing would change).

    You raise a good point about the truck charge. But it could incentivize off-peak deliveries as well as encouraging the consolidation of routes and trips. These would be good things. Since trucks have a bigger impact than cars and are probably more financially able to take a congestion charge hit before modifying their behavior, it sounds reasonable to charge them more. Remember, part of this is to raise revenue for mass transit improvements, so even if it doesn't change truck behavior as much it is still reasonable.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by brandonmason View post
    Well, here's the catch with the "just toll the bridges" idea: MOST of the vehicle traffic in Manhattan originates in Manhattan (according to page 142 of the plan's Transportation Tech Report). They've crunched the numbers on congestion pricing, and it would make a pretty big hit on VMTs and total vehicles--especially on SOVs (14% SOV VMT reduction in zone).
    What "just toll the bridges" idea are you talking about. I've been following this story for 5 years and i've never heard of that. In any case, i certainly didn't bring it up. I said that the only things left to set up toll infrastructure on are 86th St. (or 60th St) and three East River bridges and because of that the logistics of it shouldn't be that big of a deal. You can still charge everyone $8 - you just don't need an entirely new system to do it.

    most of the traffic originates in Manhattan? because what, you're counting taxi trips? Where are you getting that from?

    A total of 814,000 vehicles enter the area on an average weekday.
    If you look at work-based trips 263,000 people drive regularly to jobs in Manhattan.
    53 percent, or 141,000, live in the five boroughs.
    Queens, with 51,300.
    Brooklyn, with 33,400.
    Manhattan with 23,900
    Bronx with 17,400
    Staten Island with 15,200 .
    Nassau County with 22,091
    Bergen County, with 19,975.

    326,000, or 40 percent of vehicles come over the East River with their drivers coming from Long Island (B'klyn & Queens incl.)

    About 142,000 are coming from New Jersey

    20% of the drivers, or about 156,000 are "just passing through" and Manhatttan is not their destination.

    Most of the rest of the trips are coming from the Bronx, CT, and NY counties north of the Bronx.

    source


    Tolling more bridges might be more palatable and could be a decent compromise. As it is now, even Manhattanites are split on congestion charging and every other borough is overwhelmingly opposed to congestion pricing. Albany doesn't have veto power, they actually have to authorize congestion pricing before it can get off the ground. Like you said, the "hot potatoness" of it might motivate them to just do nothing (which means nothing would change).
    Manhattanites aren't really "split" on the idea. 49% think it's a good idea and 39% think it's a bad idea. New Yorkers in general are split on the idea. B'klyn and Bronx residents think it's bad. Queens residents are split evenly. Manhattan and Staten Island residents think it's a good thing. source
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Oh yeah.....

    Has anyone seen any solid numbers from London, showing an increase in ridership (bus, train,taxi,horse, rickshaw...)? as a direct result of the congestion pricing scheme...or recent increases?

    I think the taxi owners would love this idea....also the City transit folks....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post
    What "just toll the bridges" idea are you talking about. I've been following this story for 5 years and i've never heard of that. In any case, i certainly didn't bring it up. I said that the only things left to set up toll infrastructure on are 86th St. (or 60th St) and three East River bridges and because of that the logistics of it shouldn't be that big of a deal. You can still charge everyone $8 - you just don't need an entirely new system to do it.
    Sorry, I misspoke. I meant the idea to only toll entries into the zone, rather than all traffic into or within the zone. I know you weren't proposing just the bridges. You're right that just charging for entires into the zone would probably be easier and would still make a big improvement. But I think it is worth it to toll the in-zone trips as well.

    most of the traffic originates in Manhattan? because what, you're counting taxi trips? Where are you getting that from?
    I'm not counting anything--the city is. As for where I'm getting it from, I included the source earlier--page 142 of the transportation tech report from the city analyzing the feasibility. I didn't think of it before, but it probably does include taxis (although it doesn't specify whether it does or not). Regardless, there are still a lot of private car trips originating in Manhattan (23,900 in your article).

    If you look at the numbers they've got in the tech report (p.144), it appears that charging only at the entrances would eliminate 79,000 vehicle trips but charging for driving within the zone will reduce a further 33,000. If these numbers are right, including in-zone trips is 40% more effective than simply tolling at the entrances to the zone. It will also raise more revenue for transit improvements.

    Manhattanites aren't really "split" on the idea. 49% think it's a good idea and 39% think it's a bad idea. New Yorkers in general are split on the idea. B'klyn and Bronx residents think it's bad. Queens residents are split evenly. Manhattan and Staten Island residents think it's a good thing. source
    The survey I linked to suggested that Staten Island is 62% against (36% for). Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx are even more opposed than that. Manhattan is 48% for to 43% against, which is more or less even when you factor in the 3% margin of error. The poll I linked to is more recent and has a larger sample size, so perhaps the tides are turning against congestion charging? Or maybe all polls are inherently unreliable (this is probably the real explanation). I think the polls are only a barrier to getting the politicians to act. I'm sure residents would come around after implementation, since the numbers are like early polls in London and Stockholm.

    I haven't seen any information on whether a plan would be more palatable including or excluding in-zone trips. Nor have I seen data on whether the extra revenue from tolling in-zone trips would offset the extra expense. My sense is that the residents of outer-boroughs would me more willing to go along with the scheme if the Manhattanites had to pay too and if bridges weren't tolled. I also imagine that the extra revenue would more than offset the extra expenses. Either idea would be an improvement and I support any improvement, but my hunch is that charging in-zone trips would be drastically more effective, more politically palatable, and better budget wise.

    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Has anyone seen any solid numbers from London, showing an increase in ridership (bus, train,taxi,horse, rickshaw...)? as a direct result of the congestion pricing scheme...or recent increases?

    I think the taxi owners would love this idea....also the City transit folks....
    This report says London bus ridership increased 14% and subway ridership about 1%. On an interesting sidenote, it said reduced travel time decreased the average taxi fare by 20-40%! Nonetheless, taxi drivers would still stand to benefit since there would be more people choosing a taxi over their private automobile and time for more fares in a shift (since each trip is shorter). Of course, we don't need to just look at London. The tech assessment for NYC suggests that taxis in Manhattan will drive 2.30% more miles and citywide transit ridership will increase by 94,000 people.
    Last edited by brandonmason; 30 Apr 2007 at 2:23 PM.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Has anyone seen any solid numbers from London, showing an increase in ridership (bus, train,taxi,horse, rickshaw...)? as a direct result of the congestion pricing scheme...or recent increases?
    Bus ridership increased significantly, but both bus and auto numbers are massively dwarfed by the train numbers, which didn't seem to change by a statistically meaningful number.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by brandonmason View post
    This article is incorrect in its assessment of Stockholm. While informal polls may say that Stockholmers were significantly in favor, the REAL POLL (that is, the referendum in September 2006) was ony 51.5% for, 45.8% against with ~75% voter turnout. IN STOCKHOLM CITY. When you include the remainder of Stockholm Län (Greater Stockholm), the total was 52.5% against and 47.5% for.

    This was AFTER a 7 month trial in which traffic into and out of the city was reduced by some 25% at peak hours.

    The congestion tax will be returned, possibly at the expense of the Legistlative Alliance's mandate in the next election (they promised to use the referendum from the entire region as a guide in whether or not to reinstate the tax.) Furthermore, 100% of the income from the congestion tax will be used for ROAD CONSTRUCTION--they will be constructing the Northern Link and Förbifart Stockholm (a shortcut from Uppland to Sörmland to the west of Stockholm), both of which will be roads outside of the taxing zone. The proposal of the previous government had been a 50/50 transit/roads split, which probably is why it received a majority in Stockholm City. With the current situation, I wouldn't be surprised if a minority supported it within the city now, too.

    I'm not saying I'm against it in NYC; I am saying that the popularity of Stockholm's congestion pricing is debatable, and one should be very cautious in using it as a template. Had the resolution been binding, it's very likely that it wouldn't be returning this August.

    In English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_congestion_tax
    The version I used: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tr%C3%A...tt_i_Stockholm (more detailed, but in Swedish.)

    I'm surprised that no one has discussed (or even mentioned) congestion pricing in Bergen or Oslo. Bergen was the first European city to have it, starting in 1986. Surprising considering that it is a small city with much more limited mass transit options (diesel and trolleybusses).

    Interesting note: the only city that has ever had congestion pricing and then terminated it (well, so far) is Trondheim, Norway. They had it for 14 years, and discontinued it in December 2005. Traffic has increased 3% since.

    Refernce: http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bomring (in Norwegian)

    Edits: added Norwegian info.
    Last edited by njm; 01 May 2007 at 3:50 AM.
    What luck! A random assemblage of words never sounded less intelligent.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    I've taken the time to read most of that report. I'm very skeptical.

    It doesn't include ped or bicycle trips?!? I've never understood how you can accurately model an urban transportation scenario without including bike or ped counts. Especially in a place like Manhattan.

    It doesn't tell us what an internal trip is. When someone who lives in the zone leaves it does it count as an internal trip? If someone comes in from outside of the zone and has multiple destinations within the zone do those trips count as internal? Are they counting each destination as a trip?

    How do they break down taxi trips?
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by jresta View post
    I've taken the time to read most of that report. I'm very skeptical.

    It doesn't include ped or bicycle trips?!? I've never understood how you can accurately model an urban transportation scenario without including bike or ped counts. Especially in a place like Manhattan.

    It doesn't tell us what an internal trip is. When someone who lives in the zone leaves it does it count as an internal trip? If someone comes in from outside of the zone and has multiple destinations within the zone do those trips count as internal? Are they counting each destination as a trip?

    How do they break down taxi trips?
    It would be interesting to see the answers to all of these questions. I imagine the city has a lot more statistics available than they included in the public report, but I haven't found anything with more depth than the tech assessment from any source. I imagine we'll get more details if the idea gets debated and discussed more.

  11. #11
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    I think this is a good idea. I read a story on Yahoo news about this. A poll showed that over 60% of the people who drive to Manhattan said that mass transit would've been either just as fast or faster than their car. For respondents in Queens and Brooklyn, it was 66%. Basically, they have access to mass transit but they just don't want to use it. So all that talk about 'hurting the poor people' and limited mass transit can go out the window now.

    In another question, 60% (probably the same people) said they'd choose an alternative if the $8 charge was in place. That'd be a 10% increase...does nyc have the capacity for this??

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070504/...y_traffic_dc_2

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I was on overheardintheoffice.com and I saw this in the margin:

    http://ga3.org/campaign/congestionpricing_blogads

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