Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pressing Congestion

The Committee for a Congestion Tax-Free NYC will be holding a press conference today at 11:00 AM on the steps of City Hall. Joining the group, made up of scores of local civic and small business groups, will be a number of city and state law makers who are concerned about the impact that a congestion tax would have on middle class commuters from Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx-as well as small distributors and contractors who make a living within the CBD.

The law makers, led by State Senator Carl Kruger and Assemblyman Rory Lancman-along with council members Melinda Katz, David Weprin, Vinnie Gentile, Mike Nelson and Tony Avella-are deeply concerned, and press reports confirm these fears, that the current transit infrastructure is unable to handle the additional 90,000 or so riders who will be forced to shift to the trains and buses should the tax be adopted.

In addition, law makers are worried that the full consequences of the plan-its costs as well as its benefits-have not been adequately evaluated since the proposal has not undergone any independent review. Also, proponents of the plan such as the Straphangers Gene Russianoff are arguing that the money generated will be essential for keeping the fare at the current $2.

There is, however, only a finite amount of money here, and with the mayor championing expansion of services and Russianoff promoting the fare subsidy, it's hard to see how the tax could accomplish both tasks. In the end it is simply a tax, and any expanded transit service would only be available for the grandchildren of the current riders.