Thursday, December 13, 2007

For Whom the Bridge Tolls

As we expected, the congestnoscenti, seeing all else falling apart, are looking to toll the bridges. As the NY Times reports this morning: "The chairman of the state commission studying ways to reduce traffic in Manhattan is increasingly pushing a measure certain to prompt opposition in the rest of the city: charging tolls on the four East River Bridges..."I’ve made it pretty clear that I think the bridge tolls proposals might be part of a solution that this commission’s going to look at before it’s over,” said Marc V. Shaw, the commission chairman, after a meeting of the panel on Monday."

Shaw, a long time advocate of bridge tolls and a revenue enhancer from way back, is apparently looking to throw a hail mary here and see if he can get his pet idea into the mix. Of course, this is exactly the proposal that Konheim and Ketcham have been promoting as a much less unwieldy and more cost-effective alternative to the mayor's plan.

But, as we have said before, the call for tolls is the last gasp of an expiring policy proposal. As the Times tells us: "A public official who helped develop the mayor’s congestion plan questioned the wisdom of trading it for something equally controversial. “I feel like its Groundhog Day,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak for the administration and asked not to be named. “We’re back to where we were during the Koch years. Is that sort of the death knell for congestion pricing?”

So, as entropy is about to envelop the entire congestion tax scheme, we are back to the "good old days" of Koch and Dinkins, with bureaucrats promoting tax raising schemes to mitigate financial chaos. This is one back to the future scenario we can live without. But we'll leave you with a quote from Shaw that underscores the mentality behind the permanent government scheming that is the foundation for the congestion tax concept: “Last time I checked, nobody likes to have revenues raised,” he said. “People like to have spending done, and that’s the tension of government.” Time to release the tension.