2008-02-29 / Community

Addabbo: Look At Alternatives To Pricing Plan

Anumber of supporters of the city administration's congestion pricing plan have stated that the opponents of the proposal really can't complain, because they have offered no alternatives to address the city's traffic woes.

Councilman Joseph Addabbo, an outspoken critic of congestion pricing, has supported alternatives to what he called the "Manhattan car tax plan," which he said will have a negative impact on the outer boroughs, namely Queens. "There are other alternatives than to tax city residents," said Addabbo.

Congestion pricing is the concept of charging commuters to enter certain areas of Manhattan with their cars, often mentioned in the City Council as a method of reducing traffic and pollution citywide, but which has never been implemented.

The Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission has recently recommended a scaled-back version of the city administration's congestion pricing plan which would charge cars $8 and trucks $21 to enter Manhattan south of 60 Street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

"I don't believe we've exhausted every alternative before charging residents to drive into the city," said Addabbo. "We need to do a better job of enforcing the traffic and pedestrian laws we already have. This would reduce congestion in the city without charging law-abiding individuals to enter the city. We should also consider early morning and late evening delivery hours for businesses."

Addabbo recently cosponsored four Resolutions in the Council as alternatives to congestion pricing:

Resolution 1223 calls on the United States Congress to fully explore adopting legislation and/or regulatory measures to promote the immediate marketing and use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, to develop the re-fueling infrastructure to support these vehicles and to consider making the manufacture and importation of gasoline combustion vehicles unlawful by a certain date.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which create electricity using a chemical reaction involving hydrogen and oxygen, are zero emissions vehicles and the use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would help to wean the United States off dependence on expensive and dwindling foreign oil. "One reason I have not embraced the congestion pricing proposal is the lack of environmental and health data for both Manhattan and Queens if the pricing proposal was implemented." Addabbo stated.

Resolution 1225 calls on the Mayor of the City of New York, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission to significantly increase the number of taxi stands within the central business district of Manhattan and to equip such stands with all-weather furniture and shelter that would attract passengers to use such stands.

The regular use of such additional taxi stands by cab drivers to pick up passengers instead of cruising for fares, would significantly reduce vehicle miles traveled in the central business district and result in an improvement in the flow of other vehicular traffic.

Resolution 1216 calls on the Mayor of the City of New York, the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Planning Commission to increase the number of commercial loading zones within the central business district of Manhattan and to lawfully require off-street loading docks to be built when any new commercial buildings are constructed or substantially renovated within the central business district of Manhattan.

While trucks are a necessary and important part of commerce in the City, double-parked commercial vehicles that engage in the loading and unloading of deliveries block lanes of traffic flow throughout the central business district of Manhattan. There is concern that many commercial delivery trucks simply absorb double parking tickets as a cost of doing business.

Creating additional truck loading zones in appropriate locations in the central business district would have the dual benefit of assisting commerce and improving traffic flow and reducing air pollution. Off-street loading docks should alleviate the need for trucks to load and unload on streets and could be required in all new commercial construction or substantial renovation within the central business district.

Resolution 1226 calls on the Mayor of the City of New York, the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Bureau of Traffic Enforcement to significantly increase fines and step up enforcement efforts for all traffic violations within the central business district of Manhattan, in order to deter violators and help to effectively relieve traffic congestion and reduce air pollution.

Congestion and pollution are undesirable consequences of automobiles in the City.

In order to effectively reduce congestion and pollution, a multi-faceted approach to the problem is necessary.

Although current plans are focused mainly in Manhattan, congestion and transportation affect all areas of New York City, and any solutions should consider the spillover effects to the entire region.

Imposing additional traffic and institutional remedies targeted throughout the central business district of Manhattan and the surrounding region could help to address the problems of congestion and air pollution.

However, violations of any proposed regulations would effectively negate any beneficial effects that could have otherwise been brought about by such lawful remedies.

In addition to imposing new regulations, stricter enforcement of existing laws such as overstaying a meter; parking unlawfully in a taxi stand, bus stop, or loading zone; and blocking the box or driving in a bus lane, would also help to improve traffic flow in the central business district and result in an improvement in air quality.

Significantly increasing fines for such violations, if committed in the central business district, would also serve as a deterrent and aid in the plans to improve traffic flow in the central business district.

"Government must be sure to have examined all possible ways to address congestion in Manhattan and the other boroughs before having people pay an additional fee to travel anywhere," concluded Addabbo.

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