Congestion pricing is a controversial issue with common, laudable goals- reducing traffic congestion and reducing pollution. There have been so many ideas floated, and most of them are just plain bad. So, after much thinking I have put together a couple of proposals of my own, which I believe reflect common sense and are more palatable to all New Yorkers.
First, we live on an island and there is no better border than the rivers that surround us. A border in the middle of Manhattan, whether on 86th Street or 60th Street makes no sense. Such borders would divide neighborhoods and create a mangle of traffic at the border. This would cause vehicles to idle or circle pointlessly and would be counter-productive to the goals of reducing emissions and traffic. So, the borders should be the rivers. Not only could this reduce traffic in all of Manhattan, it also make sense from a logistical standpoint, as there are limited access points to our island, and this would make charging far more efficient. Of course, we would have to start charging at East River bridges which are now free, but no plan of this magnitude is pain free.
Second, charge all cars that enter Manhattan between 6am and 7pm $5, with no credit for other tolls as currently suggested. Although the fee is less than the $8 suggested by the city, the fact that everyone entering Manhattan would have to pay it would bring in far greater revenue. Plans suggested by the Mayor's office have called for a credit for tolls paid by tri-state commuters. Under current plans commuters from outside of the city, who are the vast majority of cars driving around Manhattan, get a virtual free ride, while City residents pay for the vast majority of the costs of congestion pricing. This charge will be one way, there should be no disincentive to leave the city. Additionally, cars registered to a city address should be exempt for the first 5 trips per month back into the zone.
Third, since trucks are largely responsible for both congestion and pollution on our island, a number of steps should be taken:
A- Trucks wishing to make deliveries into Manhattan should do so between 7pm and 7 am. In order to compel this behavior, a $40 fee should be enacted for trucks that wish to deliver during peak hours (7am-7pm).
B- The equivalent to 4 parking spaces on every Avenue block should be dedicated to truck loading and unloading between 7pm and 7 am. 2 of the 4 spaces should be dedicated for the same purpose during peak hours. Such an arrangement would greatly reduce double parking, idling, and congestion. The same spot, when available should also be utilized by taxis dropping off passengers. If a spot is available in the zone and the taxi does not drop off in that zone, the taxi driver will be subject to a fine. If all the spots are taken, no fine will be imposed.
C- Triple the fines for double parking and unnecessary idling and should be rigorously enforced. Again, this will help both pollution and congestion.
Fourth, A 50% discount should be offered to both cars and trucks which are hybrid. Every couple of years the fuel efficiency standard required to qualify for the discount should be reviewed and increased.
Fifth, the city must dedicate itself to the use of bicycles in the city. Real, safe, and segregated bike lanes should be established throughout the city. The city should also provide a tax incentive for it's citizens to purchase bicycles.
Finally, the city should accelerate mass transit projects like the 2nd Avenue subway and improve the service and capacity of our mass transit system.
So, that's the plan. It is a plan that I believe makes a great deal more sense and takes the burden from being solely on the backs of City residents. I also believe that this plan will have result in a greater reduction of traffic and pollution than the City's plan, while also garnering higher revenues to improve our mass transit system.
Comments and suggestions encouraged.