In what appears to be a Marx Brother's-like response to the latest Q-Poll, the mayor and some of his supporters seem to be saying, much like Chico said when the husband of the woman he was in bed with suddenly burst into the room; "Who're going to believe, me or your own lying eyes?" So we have with the just released poll results, which showed once again that the great majority of New Yorkers think that the congestion tax idea stinks.
The funniest response, besides the one from the mayor's office which sounds just as if it were scripted by Baghdad Bob, comes from the group Transportation Alternatives. This organization, the strident leader of the bicycle brigade, attacks the poll itself and complains about the "biased" wording of the questions; "Paul Steely White, the group's executive director, thought the questions had 'loaded language,' such as the 'federal meddling question,' and criticized the poll for not specifying times that vehicles will be charged for driving south of 86th Street."
As far as the "meddling" question is concerned, we think that it was inspired. It gave respondents the opportunity to think about the nature of the funding source, the sum of money involved, and the strings that were attached to the allocation. It's not as if New Yorkers were knee-jerk conservatives suspicious about the role of the federal government in their lives.
The problem with ideologically inspired groups like TA, is that they are forever running up against the recalcitrance of the "masses," and the inability of the people to understand the righteousness of the cause. All of this comes out of the Marxist false consciousness play book, and it denigrates the innate ability of the folks to understand what is really good for them. It is the mindset that led Rousseau to observe that sometimes, "You have to force people to be free."
Which gets us to the mayor's position that the poll, because it says that 57% of New Yorkers would support a congestion tax if "is used to prevent an increase in mass transit fares and bridge and tunnel tolls," actually demonstrates that people really support his plan. The NY Post's take-"Bronx Jeer for Traffic Fee"-is more to the point.
This is strictly Wonderland stuff since it is clear that the funds are not going to be used for that purpose, and even if they were there's not enough revenue being generated-especially after the administrative costs are applied-to hold the fares or tolls down. As Crain's points out, "That’s an unlikely scenario as proceeds from the proposal, which aims to reduce traffic in the city by 6.3%, are earmarked for transit improvement projects, such as the Second Avenue subway and new bus facilities, and not to offset fare hikes." So if you want to take a shot at the poll, you could say that it was this question that was misleading.
And how about the press reports today about the great response rides have to the "already overcrowded" 7 Line? The Times headline-"More Trains..." Here's TA president Roberts' candid admission: "Mr. Roberts said that he could not add more trains during the busiest period in the morning and evening, which lasts roughly an hour, because the line was already running at capacity then. But by adding trains before and after, he said, he hoped to be able to “spread the peak” and change the habits of some riders.Mr. Roberts said that he could not add more trains during the busiest period in the morning and evening, which lasts roughly an hour, because the line was already running at capacity then. But by adding trains before and after, he said, he hoped to be able to “spread the peak” and change the habits of some riders."
Is there a clearer demonstration of the cart-before-the-horse nature of the congestion tax then this statement from the head of the city's transit system? The Posts' take on the 7 Line could be applied to the entire system: "The No. 7 isn't in danger of flunking out, but could probably use a tutor." Let's scrap the congestion tax folly and get a grip on a comprehensive transit plan, one that benefits all New Yorkers, and not just some consultants who are planning to milk the new technology.