Rail and other Alternatives to Improving New York City's Tranportation Other Than Congestion Pricing" Rail and Other Alternatives to Improve New York City's Transportation Other Than Congestion Pricing

Originally posted to newsgroups during July 2007.

(C)opyright 2007 Interpage Network Services Inc.

+1 (510) 315-2750

After years of trying to place tolls on the remaining free bridges into 
and out of Manhattan by previous Mayoral administrations up to and 
including the current one, Mayor Bloomberg has come up with a (in his 
mind?)clever way to circumvent legislative objections to such tolls: 
Congestion Pricing. 

From my understanding, tolls paid to enter or leave the City on a given 
day will be DEDUCTED from the $8 charge for automobiles. 

Thus, someone entering via ANY of the TBTA (MTA) facilities, namely, the 
Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the Queens-Midtown tunnel, or the Triboro 
Bridge, which charge $4 EACH WAY, and leaving via any of those 
facilities, will pay NOTHING in terms of a "congestion pricing" charge 
($4 to enter + $4 to leave = $8, which is to be deducted from the $8 
congestion charge, to leave a total charge of $0!).

(Traffic entering/leaving via the High Bridge (which I believe costs $2 
each way) will thus pay a $4 charge if they travel below 86th St.) 

And I am not sure if the plan calls for this or not, but cars leaving via 
the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island and Beyond (the toll for which is 
at least $8 now) will also pay nothing. 

Finally, people using the free bridges, namely, the Brooklyn, Manhattan, 
Williamsburg, Qeensboro, Third Ave/Willis Ave, and upper Bronx-Manhattan 
bridges will be forced, for the first time, to pay EFFECTIVELY what 
people who pay for the tolled bridges will pay, e.g., $8.  

Although not -directly- a toll on the the free facilities, the net effect 
is to "even out" the disparity between the TBTA facilities (which if used 
both ways, (with the exception of the High Bridge) amazingly cost the 
same $8 as the congestion pricing fee...) and the free facilities.

Perhaps this was done to nullify TBTA/MTA opposition to the plan, but in 
effect this plan will require ALL ACCESS to/from Kings, Queens, Nassau 
and Suffolk Counties to be tolled during the plan's hours. 

Thus, it seems likely, that as all this does is effectively toll 
commuters who use the free bridges, and as it costs commuters who use 
Queens/Brooklyn TBTA facilities NOTHING extra, that it will modify 
existing driving patterns somewhat so that some motorists will take a 
more direct TBTA Bridge or Tunnel to work (most of which are already well 
above design capacity) rather than the free bridges. 

Other than make it more expensive for people who use the free bridges out 
of economic necessity to enter and leave the city (as those who can 
afford the TBTA facilities do so at a cost of $8 per day mitigating any 
extra cost of congestion pricing), the plan seems that it will have 
little effect other than to finally obtain tolling facilities on 
structures which have been free for over 100 years in some cases as yet 
another tax on those who can least afford it.

If the Mayor and the City were truly in favor of mitigating congestion 
through the central business district, here are some ideas which are so 
obvious one wonders why they have not been tried IF this were truly an 
effort to reduce congestion:

1. Remove tolls from TBTA and facilities which do not lead into and out 
of Manhattan: The Whitestone, Throgs Neck, Verrazano, and Broad Channel 
Bridges should be made toll-free. This is one city -- why charge people 
who want to go from Brooklyn to Staten Island, or segregate those who 
want to travel from Queens to the Bronx and beyond. I for one regularly 
go through Manhattan to avoid the tolls and the delays on TBTA facilities 
as it is often cheaper(gas vs. tolls) and faster (due to delays on major 
Holidays when many non-EZ pass users jam up the limited cash lanes 
backing up bridges for miles. If there were no tolls on these facilities, 
many of my and I suspect other trips through Manhattan would be avoided.

2. Make the current (tolled) Manhattan and PA/NY&NJ facilities free at 
night or during off-peak periods, giving drivers and incentive to come in 
later or at staggered hours and encouraging time-shifted work patterns 
rather than penalizing those who can not change their schedules.

This may also be an economic boon to the City as, similar to the 
Unlimited Ride MetroCard, it will promote more inter-boro traveling, 
shopping, and commerce during off-peak hours. 

(This of course will never be done since it means the PA and the TBTA will
lose revenue, which goes to show that this is really all about money and
has very little relevance to actual congestion relief.)

3. Improve bus service: Currently, if I take the subway into Manhattan, 
the last bus from the subway station to my house leaves at 11PM. If I 
wanted to stay later in Manhattan, I'd have no way home other than a long 
30-minute walk, which is no pleasant in inclement weather. There should 
be 24 hour, regular bus service on all routes which service subway 
stations and service as a distributor to surrounding neighborhoods.

4. Improve subway express service: There are MANY facilities currently in 
place on the subway system for at the very least peak direction express 
service, namely: The "F"/Culver line (2-way express service until Church, 
then peak direction service southwards),  "N"/Sea Beach Express Service 
(2-way service), "D"/West End service (peak direction), "J" peak 
direction express tracks east of Myrtle Ave., "1" service north of 96th 
St. (peak direction), "2" Service north of 180th St. (peak direction), 
"W" and "N" Astoria line (peak direction), "F" service east of Van Wyck 
(2-way express). These are in place and would require little or no work 
to restore or provide express service, yet the Mayor, the City, and the 
TA are silent on the issue. Indeed, recent community-based petitions 
signed by 3000 residents in Brooklyn to restore "F" express service are 
being ignored by TA officials as not currently practicable even though 
the tracks exist and express service was run as recently as the 

5. Improve subway nighttime service: It is ridiculous to have to wait 20 
to 30 minutes for some trains at night; it is much faster in many cases 
to just drive home, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when so many 
people are waiting for a late night train that they are often too crowded 
to and require a wait for the next train.

6. Add more subway routes on existing track: There are a number of 
connections not currently in use which will facilitate improved service 
to areas where commuters currently save time by driving, including J/M 
service to midtown and uptown locations, G service at all times on the 
Queens Blvd. segment (with somewhat more limited service during rush 
hours to accommodate "V" service), and "V" service extended during rush 
hours to Brooklyn (in conjunction with "F" express service.

Do not dispose of refurbished, older subway rolling stock (R-32, R-38, 
R-40, and R-42) when newer cars arrive but use these cars for added 
service and new routes. 

7. Build new connections between existing routes: Instead of using $500 
Million in Federal Funds and spending money on pandering ads featuring 
asthmatics, spend some money to build a connection between the "G" and 
"L" lines in Brooklyn, and between the "L" and Broadway and/or 6th Ave 
and/or 8TH Ave lines in Manhattan, providing additional Queens Blvd. 
service to downtown Manhattan (and possibly "loop service" if uptown 
connections are made) as well as direct service to Williamsburg and 
Canarsie residents downtown and to areas in northern/western Brooklyn.

8. Utilize little used/disused facilities: Build high level, handicapped 
access platforms along the LIRR LIC/Montauk Branch (which had limited 
service up until the late 1990s), re-construct the LIRR 
Rockaway/Woodhaven Branch with stations service central-eastern Queens 
and a direct, one-seat ride to JFK, utilize the LIRR "Garden City" branch 
for a large Park and Ride facility along the Meadowbrook Parkway and 
concomitant one-seat ride into New York, and re-build the Putnam Division 
in Westchester and Putnam Counties to provide additional service into 
either Grand Central or Penn.

9. Fix the current roads so that they are passable: New York City has 
some of the worst roads in the developed world, and does little to fix 
potholes, degraded road surfaces, and road hazards, causing drivers to 
slow down, wear and breakdowns on City buses and other vehicles, and 
generally adds to the overall level of congestion. 

10. Build Safe and Patrolled Park and Rides at outer subway line stations 
and LIRR stations in NYC: If the Washington Metro can do it, and Boston's 
"T" can do it, and BART can do it, why can't New York build a series of 
safe, secure, well-lit, patrolled, modestly priced commuter garages at 
the periphery of the current subway system and along LIRR stations were 
feasible to allow people who would otherwise drive a means whereby they 
can drive to a parking lot where they can be assured of a safe spot, and 
take the train or express bus into the Manhattan. 

11. And yes -- build some new roads to keep up the the growth of the City 
and surrounding areas. 

Most of the ideas are not expensive or grandiose projects, but graduated, 
easily accomplished means to mitigate the current state of congestion. 

The City of New York should not -- nor should any municipality -- be in 
the business of "punishing" commuters who opt for a given modality of 
transportation by driving when they City, the TA, and the MTA fail them 
so miserably. If the Mayor were truly interested in reducing congestion 
and making mass transit more attractive for those who choose to drive, he 
would use his political prowess and expend his energies to break down the 
barriers imposed by the long-standing satrapies of various agencies and 
interests involved in New York City's and the region's transit and 
traffic planning and management, and implement these and other less 
onerous proposals which have been suggested over the years. 

Instead, the Mayor coyly and cynically calls for "cleaner, better air" 
and "less congestion" when in fact he really just wants to toll the free 
bridges in a manner that is least offensive to the TBTA and those who can 
afford to/wish to pay their tolls, and burdensome and unfair to the many 
under-represented commuters who have for years been ignored by the TA and 
the MTA and who will have no other choice but to pay for the Mayor's 
self-serving pet-project. 

Interpage Main Page
Contact Us
Fax to Elected Officials
LobbyByFax System
Back to WirelessNotes Main Page

Last Update: 04/10/2009