New York was recently offered $354 million dollars for it's congestion pricing scheme. Sort of. The city gets $1.6 million to study the plan and $10.4 million for implementation with the rest of the money going to New York State D.O.T., the M.T.A. and N.Y.C. D.O.T. to pay for improved transit. Implementing the congestion charge will cost around $230 million. The State of New York has until March to sign on to the plan. Still as the article notes
the substantial federal support for the project gives enormous leverage to the mayor as he continues to press for his proposal.
The $354 million is considerably less than the $536 million the Bloomberg administration had requested from the federal government, but it is well over the $200 million minimum federal commitment that the Legislature had set as a precondition for the 17-member commission to move forward.
Meanwhile, here in D.C. there is already a backlash.
The chorus of calls to forget about a congestion tax in the District is growing louder.
The American Automobile Association is the latest to weigh in on the idea.
The main argument - what about the tourists?
When told about the possible plan, Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., shot it down.
"That is not a good idea," Wolf said. "Every day you walk across the Mall, you always see a mom a dad and a couple of kids, it's the first time they've come into the city. To put a tax on a driver for coming into D.C.? The District of Columbia is the Nation's Capital."
Rep. Wolf, they already pay a tax - several actually - on the gas and the car and their license and registration and parking. In addition they are welcome - encouraged even - to ride a bike, take metro or wait until rush hour is over. Besides, what portion of the fee payers will be tourists and what percentage of tourists park and drive downtown? It's disingenuous. Yes, D.C. is the Nation's Capital and it should be an example of what a post-peak-oil city should be. As CommuterPage Blog duly notes, congestion pricing isn't that radical an idea. Isn't a parking meter just a form of congestion pricing?
Limiting the use of a public good with a fee for the benefit of all is similar to the congestion charging schemes of today in practice in London and Stockholm, who charge a fee to enter downtown.
One might argue, Rep. Wolf, that charging for street use is capitalist in nature - free streets, hell, that's communism. Are you saying the Nation's Capital should be a bastion of communism. I'm shocked.
Congestion pricing in London, btw, caused bike use to go up 43%.