Kremer's Corner: Congestion pricing is an MTA nightmare

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Kremer's Corner:  Congestion pricing is an MTA nightmare

I don’t like to rock the boat, unless I think it is absolutely necessary. But there are few subjects that get under my skin as much as congestion pricing. I know that good government and environmental advocates are keen on this historic program moving forward. Everyone wants less air pollution and fewer traffic jams in New York City. But I just feel that the MTA is hell bent on moving ahead come June, with little concern for the people who have to pay the price.

Those of us who drive in the city have been forced to deal with mile long traffic jams, often on some of our most urgent trips.

The MTA maintains that charging people tolls to get into parts of the city will cure any and all evils caused by the excess car traffic. But before we pat the bureaucrats on the back for good conduct, let’s talk a little bit about what is causing these horrific backups.

I haven’t had any dealings with the New York City Department of Transportation in years, but I can attest to the fact that they are a bunch of people who are indifferent to the dumb decisions that they make.

Since early in the Bloomberg administration the city has had a fixation with bicycle lanes. Every time I drive on a street that has fast moving traffic, within weeks the traffic is stalled due to new bike lanes,

A typical case in point is Lexington Avenue. It was always a two-lane street, with parking on each side of the road. Despite large numbers of school buses, traffic moved pretty smoothly.

Obviously, that caught the attention of the DOT officials. Low and behold within a few months, the city created a bus lane, which limits most traffic to one lane. If a commercial truck is double parked, Lexington Avenue grinds to a halt.

Because of the city’s love affair with bicycles, many of the parking spots have been moved away from the curb, creating confusion and a danger to the innocent souls who park in this more centered lane. I don’t consider myself a suspicious person, but I could almost bet that the DOT people make these traffic changes, to create a justification for congestion pricing.

The next issue that I am vexed by is the lack of transparency of the entire program. In order to show that they were totally open, the MTA held hearings to hear the complaints of drivers who face this dramatic change in city policy.

Citizens were invited to call a set of telephone numbers and had three minutes to explain their reactions to the toll changes. Callers never had a chance to see the faces of the listeners. They could have been dozing or doing crossword puzzles, and the caller would not know.

Prior to putting the toll plan into place, the MTA had spent millions of dollars installing toll stations at the various entrances to the toll zone, below 60th Street. How much has been spent to date to create this program?

Many of those electronic toll arms have been installed since early 2023. By now the MTA knows exactly what the cost is, and the public is entitled to know what they have spent.

I raise this issue because the first revenue from the tolls goes to paying off the bond interest. If the tolls don’t cover the interest costs, then the toll structure is distorted and the MTA is getting much less in revenue.

As each day goes by and the June kickoff approaches, story after story emerges about glitches in the plan.

One has pointed out that motorists leaving the Brooklyn Bridge who wish to drive onto the FDR Drive, and have no intention of entering the toll zone, will be forced to pay a toll. Those stories may be far from correct, but the congestion pricing plan is far from perfect.

Do we need a solution to the city’s gridlock? Yes! Do we need to cut back on air pollution levels?

Yes! But we need the MTA bureaucrats to show a little more concern about the travails of the people who are forced to travel by car to the city. Even motorists deserve a little more love.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I can not thank you enough for this article. Not only are “they” the DOT and the mulitimillion dollar lobby Transportation Alternatives invested in eliminating the use of private cars in the cities across the U.S., they want to make us dependent on for profit rental cars & bikes (owned by Lyft).
    W103rd St where I live was “redesigned” eliminating 15 parking spaces under the Open Streets program. I was arrested trying to stop DOT from redesigning the block between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.
    Currently this lobby has its own streetfilms, streetsblog (media), Families for Safe Streets, Streetslab and an infusion of Bloomberg Philanthropy money for Asphalt Art.
    Lyft gives $100,000 to TA. StreetsPAC the donation arm of TA gives “donations” to all our politicians.

  2. Another glitch of congestion pricing: Those of us who drive uptown after crossing the Queensborough bridge get docked for driving a couple blocks to 58th or 57th to drive back east again on the Queensborough. We get docked $15 and have no alternative. Shame on them. I'm not paying $15 just to visit Central Park. It's not fair.

  3. Indeed. They create the problem and then figure out how to punish those not responsible for creating the problem with a tax. Transportation Alternatives now owns the City government along with the big developers destroying our neighborhoods. Everyone else has no voice.
    See https://stopcongestionpricing.com/

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