Saturday, June 30, 2007

Congestion Tax: Got You Coming and Going

The more the details of the mayor's congestion tax scheme are revealed the less appetizing the whole idea becomes. This can be seen clearly from this morning's piece in the NY Times. What the Times reveals is the fact that the new tax will not only target incoming motorists but will also be applied to folks who live in the congestion zone who want to visit their aunt in the Bronx, or shop for groceries up at Fairway on 129th Street.

As the Times points out, this aspect of the plan "has not been widely mentioned... {and}... It might seem that anyone taking a car out of the congestion zone ought to be rewarded instead of penalized, but officials disagreed" There's a good reason for the lack of candor, it runs against the advertised rationale that the plan is designed to cut traffic, "chiefly by persuading people from the other boroughs and beyond to leave their cars behind..."

This lack of candor is no accident because, as the Times indicates, "But city officials also appear aware of the political sensitivity of the plan, and are counting on support from people residing inside of the zone, who would be expected to benefit from the drop in traffic." And what happens when people are told of this feature of the plan? They are no longer knee-jerk supporters of the idea: "'I don't think it's fair,' said Jose Hernandez, 60, a parking lot attendant who lives on West 57th Street, 'I've got family uptown, and my son lives in the Bronx.'"

What else aren't we being told? All of which makes it clear that this scheme needs a full, thorough, and independent review-and not a "wham!, bam!, thank you ma'am" approach that the mayor and his minions seem to favor in all things large and small.