The price of progress
For more than a decade now, the
movement to institute congestion pricing
in New York City has been proposed,
debated and ultimately killed
over and over again.
But this time, it appears that the
controversial proposal is fi nally going
to become a reality.
As we went to press this week, it was
reported that Democrats in the state
legislature appeared to have enough
votes in favor of congestion pricing to
include it in the budget that’s still being
Lawmakers have until April 1 to
get a budget deal done.
What this means is that very soon,
anyone crossing an East River bridge
into Manhattan, or traveling south
of 60th Street in Manhattan, will be
charged a toll.
The revenue generated from this
plan will be used to fund much-needed
public transit improvements, even
though it’s hoped that congestion pricing
will encourage more people to
leave their cars at home when traveling
to Manhattan, thereby reducing
traffi c volume.
Assembly members Michael Benedetto and Jeffrey Dinowitz would like to see elevators at all Bronx elevated train stations if congestion
pricing is approved. Schneps Media/Alex Mitchell
Bronx residents have long fought
congestion pricing. Opponents say it’s
just another undue expense that would
drain more money out of middle class
Skepticism abounds over whether
the state government will allow these
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funds to truly be used for public transit
projects, or whether this becomes
just another revenue stream from
which to pilfer.
The woeful state of the city’s public
transit system, combined with the
stark increase in traffi c volume in
recent years, have made congestion
pricing a necessary evil in the eyes of
But it needs to come with changes
for the MTA and for Bronx commuters
For one thing, the MTA must do
more to trim the fat from its corporate
The overhead in the MTA is staggering;
more than a quarter of all employees
earns in excess of $100,000 a
year at a time that the authority faces
an unprecedented defi cit. Leadership
must be held accountable to cut costs
as the public is asked to pay more for
For this plan to be truly palatable to
all Bronx residents, the city and state
must follow through with its promise
to use that revenue solely on public
transportation improvements — and
those improvements must begin almost
There is concern that travellers
from our neighbors north of the city
will transfer to one of the borough’s
many Manhattan-bound trains, hence
commandeering limited neighborhood
street parking, in an effort to avoid the
congestive pricing tolls.
Senator Alessandra Biaggi
broached the idea of residential permit
parking for the Woodlawn community
during a town hall on Tuesday February
Citing specifi c success seen in areas
like Cambridge, MA, she believes
areas like the northwest Bronx could
benefi t from permit parking on residential
Assemblyman Jeffery Dinowitz has
his own list of transit cures that address
his constituency’s needs in the
result of congestion pricing.
One of which would be to relocate
the Henry Hudson Parkway toll from
the Bronx-Manhattan border to the
The plan would relieve Bronxites
from being subject to as many as four
tolls on a round trip to Manhattan.
Also on the Riverdale legislator’s
agenda would be for all the IRT and
Metro North stations in his district
to have elevator accessible, specifi -
cally the #4 IRT Moshulu Parkway
stop, which is currently in the design
Community Board 12 would lobby
for increased east-west bus service.
Currently no MTA bus line provides
Co-op City to Riverdale direct service.
Throggs Neck/Co-op City state legislator
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto
supports a sliding pricing plan
that would reduce the fee during evenings
and weekends so that outer borough
residents are not penalized when
frequenting Manhattan for a theater
show, dining, sports or any other activity.
Biaggi stated her support for a similar
deal for senior and fi xed income
residents during her February town
Benedetto also wants a guarantee
to improve mass transportation to
transit deserts such as Co-op City and
Throggs Neck, backed by a measurable
schedule of progress; and also the
installation of elevators at all the elevated
train stations in his district.
If congestion pricing is going to
work for New York City, then the city
and state must keep their promise,
and it must be an unshakable, unconditional
pact: For this ‘tax’ on drivers,
the city must fi nally provide all New
Yorkers with a modern, effi cient public