Friday, November 02, 2007

Crying Wolf on Congestion Plan

In today's NY Sun, the paper's Andrew Wolf calls out the mayor on the congestion tax plan in a column appropriately titled, "In Praise of Congestion." In the piece Wolf, who we have disagreed with on some of our box store fights, but who we acknowledge as one of the shrewdest political observers around, questions whether the plan to charge commuters a $8 tax will have any impact on the congestion in the CBD.

He goes on to point out, that the mayor's claims that the congestion relief idea will reduce asthma and other related health conditions is, well frankly, not credible, and will likely exacerbate conditions in neighborhoods that are suffering the most: "The mayor uses images of children suffering from asthma to promote his scheme. Those children don't live in the areas that will supposedly "benefit" from his scheme. They do live in areas of the Bronx that could experience increases in congestion — and presumably asthma rates — as drivers and truckers seek to avoid the tax by using roads such as the Major Deegan, the Bruckner and the Cross Bronx to avoid the congestion levy."

Wolf also details that in so many cases the drive into Manhattan from Riverdale-or from any other of the less accessible nabes-is much more convenient and quicker than the available mass transit alternatives-and that these trips are so often good for the city's economy (hence the title of the piece). In addition, the current proposed tax is one that he sees as likely to rise because of the minuscule impact the $8 fee will have on traffic reduction.

And in the end, the tax on commuters will also fail to generate the needed dollars for mass transit improvement; "There will be virtually no improvement in mass transit that to accommodate extra riders. The Daily News suggested last week that after expenses there will hardly be any extra funds generated by the Bloomberg scheme to improve subways and buses." This whole scheme, in other words, is a tax and spend, without the mend.