Monday, November 12, 2007

Can the Plan on Traffic

Our favorite traffic analyst, Brian Ketcham, holds court today in the NY Daily News with a trenchant critique of the mayor's congestion tax plan. That's not to say that we agree with Ketcham's own conclusions, but his analysis of the mayor's overly complex and costly scheme is right on target.

The key point of attack is on the expensive grid system that the mayor's plan proposes: "Charging cars and trucks to get into the central business district makes perfect sense - but the rest of this scheme would be a logistical nightmare. All trips would be screened and photographed, some many times, and payments and locations recorded, producing a database of great concern to the American Civil Liberties Union - but adding little revenue."

Ketcham also feels strongly that until the current mass transit funding system is fixed, the fare shouldn't be raised: "Across the city, people are fed up with traffic. And they don't want to pay more for transit until it gets better. That's why we should immediately halt the MTA fare and toll hike process so we can determine whether a simpler congestion charging plan could net a reliable $500 million a year for fares and capital improvements."

Brian's solution, the tolling of the East River bridges, is something that we believe is also unacceptable-the mass transit fix, think Rockland as well, needs to come before any new tax scheme is put in place. And any system where wealthy New Jersey commuters are paying less than middle income New Yorkers is simply not a good plan.

So when Ketcham says; "New York needs congestion pricing. But to succeed, congestion pricing itself needs to be transformed into a more sensible version of the mayor's costly, headache-prone proposal."-we say let's improve the system before the taxers are let loose.