One more reason to love New York

Ever since my little brother moved to New York, I’ve started paying closer attention to what goes on there. What’s going on right now is worth sharing.

Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a series of measures that would accommodate growth (a million more people expected by 2030) and reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The most promising of the measures? A congestion charge.

Under the plan, the city would charge $8 for cars and $21 for commercial trucks that enter Manhattan below 86th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. The charge would be $4 for drivers within Manhattan, and several exemptions would apply. No one would be charged on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive or the West Side Highway. There would be no charge for moving cars to comply with alternate side parking, and there would be no charge for taxis.

[…]

Later, Mary E. Peters, the United States secretary of transportation, issued a statement praising the plan as “the kind of bold thinking leaders across the country need to embrace if we hope to win the battle against traffic congestion.” The Nassau County executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, who has many constituents who commute by car to Manhattan, also was enthusiastic. “People’s first reaction is they don’t want to pay,” he said. “But getting them to switch to mass transit benefits us all.”

(Source: New York Times)

The congestion charge is also, for obvious reasons, the most controversial of the measures. NYC’s Streetsblog (easily my favorite transit blog) details some of the objections:

Representative Anthony Weiner:

While I applaud the mayor for focusing on a long-term sustainability plan for the city, in this case the cure seems to be worse than the disease. We must look at innovative ways to face the challenges created by the city’s own success, but a regressive tax on working middle-class families and small-business owners shouldn’t be one of them.

My take: The fact that this conversation is taking place at all is huge. If New York manages to move the issue beyond conversation, my Christmas wish might come true sooner than I expected.

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