Monday, December 17, 2007

Bridges Don't Toll for the Times

In yesterday's NY Times, the paper editorialized against any tolling of the East River bridges as part of the mayor's congestion pricing plan. As the paper said, and as we've commented before, the idea could only further galvanize opponents: "For much of the last century, the idea of charging tolls on four bridges over the East River has been political hemlock."

The Times does admit that the plan has some merit, given the complexity of the mayor's taxing scheme, but it points out that Brooklyn and Queens commuters are only a small part of the problem: "A study from the Independent Budget Office last week showed that commuters who drive into Manhattan’s main business district come mainly from outside of the city. Fewer than 19 percent of drivers were from Queens, and only about 11 percent started their drives in Brooklyn. That means the vast majority who crowd the business district are not regular users of East River bridges."

It goes on to point out that the vast majority of those coming in to the city are not New Yorkers, and that New Jersey residents are effectively not charged, given the fact that their tolls off set the congestion tax. It also indicates that cabs are also an issue-as we have also pointed out in the past. The Times' solution? "Taxi drivers would be exempted, and so, in effect, would be drivers from New Jersey, who would be able to deduct the fee for crossing the Hudson River, which is being raised to $8. As it tweaks the mayor’s plan, the panel might reconsider these exceptions."

As usual, the Times leans in the direction of even greater tax levies on folks living and working in the city. It even goes on to adopt some of the opponents suggestions about government placards and on-street parking. Talk about piling on!

The reality here, as we've said, is that all of this tinkering is little more than the congestion tax's death rattle. or as the philosopher once said: "He seeks synthesis, yet all he achieves is composite error." Yet, in spite of this the NY Sun observes this morning, and we've not seen this anywhere else, that Shelly Silver has thrown the mayor a life raft of support on his congestion tax. The plot definitely thickens here.