Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cabbie Knows Best

In an Op-ed piece done for the Sunday Daily News, cab driver Nick Stern demonstrated that it's so often the folks on the ground who are able to see things most clearly-rather than the philosophic elites ensconced in the municipal Thinkery. As Stern rightly observed: "I drive a yellow cab on the night shift, and let me assure you that Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing proposal is a cynical game of three-card monte that unfairly targets working people who can least afford it."

What Stern points out, is that the city could achieve considerable congestion relief without any congestion tax if it only enforced the law: "Because, Mr. Mayor, if you really want to reduce congestion, you should start by enforcing existing traffic and parking laws and dealing with major headaches that, by my lights, are the real reason congestion is intolerable."

Indeed that's true, but why hasn't the city gone the enforcement route first? The reason, it appears to us, lies with the fact that a zero tolerance policy on double parking and No Standing zones would affect the city's elites. As Stern says; "First, No Standing laws are being abused left and right. Go ahead, drive down 50th or 52nd Sts. heading east between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. any weekday. What do you see? Rows of black cars and limos parked and double-parked all along the street, reducing traffic to a single lane. When cars try to make a turn onto the avenues, there is no room for other cars to pass as pedestrian density prevents vehicles from quickly going left or right. Where are the tow trucks?"

So instead we have a Tax First policy that unfairly targets the city's middle class, while the CEOs and the swells from the exclusive clubs are given a free ride to congest to their hearts content. In fact, it appears that the entire object of congestion taxing is to make midtown safe for the limos.


In this morning's Insider, the newsletter reports on one consultant's view that the mayor's complex monitoring system is just too complex and expensive-and it won't ease congestion for very long: "Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan gets a harsh dose of reality from a transportation technology company offering to build the system. Skymeter, a Toronto firm
that uses GPS to track and charge vehicles, says the E-ZPass-based system proposed by
the mayor would be too complex and “prohibitively expensive” to modify, and would not ease traffic for long. Chief Executive Bern Grush concludes that the proposal—which
grew from the mayor’s sustainability initiative—is “unsustainable.”

Which is exactly what we have been saying all along-and the reason why we've called for the forensic accounting on the entire scheme; from revenues to mitigation analysis. It simply won't withstand any independent review.