Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Bad Ideas For Congestion Pricing

The Traffic Mitigation Commission claims that new ideas have surfaced for congestion pricing that were brought to them either by the commission, or good ideas that have come from the public. Well, I made it to one of those meetings 2 weeks back, and I highly doubt that these, even worse ideas, have come from the public. Rather, I think the Commission, largely appointed by the Mayor, is floating even more draconian proposals to make their already poorly conceived ideas seem more palatable. Here is just a sample of these new ideas:
1- Not allowing people to drive on days that end in the same number of their license plates.
2- Color coding license plates and not allowing drivers to drive on every 5th day.
3- Making metered parking as expensive as garage parking.
4- Making it illegal to hail a cab below 86th Street. You will only be allowed to get a cab at a taxi stand.
These are all awful ideas. Is it really worth turning NYC into a fascist state in order to reduce traffic by 3-5%? Here is what is wrong with these ideas by number:
1 and 2- Why? Why should a New Yorker or outsider be barred from driving in the city on arbitrary days, when business, both economic and personal, does not run on such a schedule. Should we keep our kids home from school every 5 days? Should we not go to work on every 5th day? What if you have alternate side of the street parking on the day that your plate ends in? Ideas 1 and 2 are ludicrous!
3- Why? New York is expensive enough for both New Yorkers and those that do business in New York? Don't you think this would dramatically increase double parking? Wouldn't this hurt the small businesses that benefit from inexpensive parking in front of their stores?
4- The idea of a taxi is that it gets you from door to door. Suppose again that you have small children and it's a cold and stormy night. Would you and the cab driver get a ticket for picking you up at your door? Should you be forced to walk through the elements and then wait for a cab in the elements? Isn't the act of hailing a cab part of our culture? Another bad idea.
I want to make clear that I am not against congestion pricing. The idea of reducing traffic and reducing pollution is laudable. At the same time many of the proposals being floated are draconian and result in New Yorkers assuming most of the burden in a regressive fashion that hurts and alienates lower income New Yorkers the most. It is easy to shoot down these ideas as most of them make little or no sense. More difficult is crafting a plan that is sensible and actually works. Check back soon, as I plan to do just that, propose a plan that is fair and that works.


  1. Amen. Some of those ideas are positively ludicrous. I don't have the solution myself, so maybe I shouldn't criticize, but... New York is full of intelligent people - someone should be able to come up with something better.

  2. Hi Anonymous-
    I just put up some of my best ideas on the blog for CG. Some may be better than others, but I think they make more sense.