Friday, May 18, 2007

Beyond Congested Thinking

We're definitely sorry that we're unable to attend this morning's round table on congestion pricing that is being sponsored by the DMI. Whatever our disagreements are with DMI, we think that the round table is a public service, and that more such discussions should be held because the issues raised by this policy initiative need to be fully debated.

Along these lines there is an insightful column this morning in the NY Post by Manhattan BP Scott Stringer. In his piece Stringer outlines some of the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the current formulation of congestion pricing. His most important point from our perspective: "If we are serious about changing the status quo, our work must start by acknowledging that there can be no transit solution for New York City except for a five borough solution."

Stringer point, one we have alluded to previously, is that the administration's plan is much to Manhattan-centric, and ignores some serious outer borough traffic issues. In addition, Stringer points out that we need to examine the cart and horse nature of the current plan, to the extent that the pricing scheme long precedes any mass transit improvements for folks who now are forced into their cars because of inadequacies in the current system.

In our view we need to also examine the current congestion pricing tax in the context of the overall tax burden that New Yorkers are subjected to. As the Post discusses this morning, this tax burden is a challenge to the preservation of the middle class and small business in the city.

All of which will be coming to the fore as we come on board to assist the opposition to the congestion pricing scheme. Next week we will join with other opponents in a press conference that will emphasize some of the negative tax consequences of the congestion plan. AS Scott Stringer underscores, the mayor has highlighted some serious environmental issues that need to be addressed. Well meaning people can disagree on the proper approach to solving traffic congestion, and as far as the mayor's plan is concerned we respectfully disagree.