If the goal is to clear the air as the mayor
says other mechanisms of the plan should address
this. Taxis are a sensible place to start. We
think it borders on lunacy that in 2007 the
vehicles that we use as Taxis are predominately
Ford Crown Victoria's equipped with gas guzzling
and emission spewing V8 engines. These vehicles
are dinosaurs that have no place in New York-or
any city for that matter. The average life of
a NYC taxi is 5 years and the Mayor has already
required that all taxis be hybrids by 2012.
We are suggestion that we jump-start this conversion
by requiring that any exempt taxi vehicle be
a hybrid vehicle. Furthermore we see no reason
why Black Cars (radio cars) should be exempted
from congestion charges. They should either
be merged with the Yellow Fleet so that the
public can benefit from their presence and have
the ability to hail them or be treated as the
private cars that they are.
We also think that delivery companies such as FedEx, UPS & DHL, etc should be exempt from charges for delivering packages within the zone. These companies are crucial for large and small business and although they are private companies, in many ways they play the public role of mail carrier and this should be recognized. ConEd vehicles should also be exempt for obvious reasons.
Car sharing companies such as Zip Car, and rental companies such as Hertz, Avis, etc, having vehicles starting trips within the zone should also be exempt. The reason for this is that these services decrease the need for car ownership while increasing mobility options and thus deserve preferential treatment.
Another exemption we think is worth suggesting
is for local farmers coming to farmers markets
or making deliveries. The connection between
food and the environment and living more sustainably
is an obvious one that isn't made often enough.
New York is surrounded by farms that are under
severe pressure from low cost overseas producers,
difficult growing conditions, and land development
pressure. Our thinking is that anything that
can be done to help the people that grow food
we eat near us should be done.
Speaking of exemptions the city should use
Congestion Pricing to not only reduce cars but
also reduce dangerous drivers from our streets.
It's not a secret that two demographics are
responsible for a disproportionate amount of
fatal crashes. Elderly drivers and younger drivers.
So we propose that any resident over the age
of 60 and all full time students be given free
transit passes which when coupled with the congestion
charges, will act to further incentivize these
two groups to leave their cars at home.
Not all congestors are created equal. Let's
close the SUV loophole.
Another issue that we think needs clarification
is the term "automobiles" and "trucks".
The plan as we all know calls for charging cars
$8 dollars and trucks $21 but yet doesn't define
cars or trucks.
All SUV's are classified as trucks to benefit
from a federal loophole that exempts them from
fuel and emissions standards. While we see a
need for some cars in our city, we don't see
a need for 8,000 lb. behemoths that guzzle gasoline
and spew emissions. There is no reason for SUV's
to be driven in Manhattan and thus we think
congestion pricing is an opportunity to close
this loophole that has a negative impact on
NY. Since SUV's are legally classified as trucks
we think they should be charged the higher truck
rate, even if their steering wheels and cup
holders are padded with leather.
And what about trucks carrying goods? Why is
a gasoline sipping Sprinter van with a modern
exhaust system and car like handling abilities
considered the same as a diesel-belching semi
pulling a tractor? They are not the same thing
and should not be classed the same way. If the
goal is to clear the air then lets adjust congestion
charges of trucks to include, size, weight,
engine type, emissions system. The range of
possible trucks is just too large for them to
fall under one classification so we need more
This is good opportunity to get the ridiculous super stretch limousines that have started proliferating in recent years off our streets too. We suggest charging those by the inch.
One thing we can learn from London: a plan for the people has to include the people.
With any policy there are winners and losers.
The winners out number the users and if possible
the losers should somehow be made whole for
their losses. Three obvious losers of the plan
are Manhattan residents who own cars, businesses
owners that keep delivery vehicles in Manhattan,
and owners of parking garages. The residents
lose because they have to pay to be in the zone
even if they are just leaving New York, as they
live here and have no choice so this just doesn't
seem fair. The business owners in Manhattan
already have much higher operating costs and
are already paying a premium to be in Manhattan.
And as so few Manhattan residents own cars and
as Manhattan residents and business owners are
not the cause of congestion, rather the cause
is the vehicles that pour into the city everyday
we think that they should be exempt. Exempting
Manhattan residents an business owners who keep
vehicles in the zone will benefit garage owners.
What we do like very much about the London
plan has unfortunately not been included in
our plan. Recently, at a talk titled "Learning
Lessons from London on Congestion Pricing"
At the Rudin Center for Transportation sponsored
by The Drum Major Institute I heard first hand
Nicky Gavon the Deputy Mayor of London and the
Point Person on Londonís plan speak talk about
Londons comprehensive, transparent and public
London recognized that there are winners and losers took a bottoms up approach to talking to people. What that means is that met with people, in an organized planning process to learn what different constituents needs where and then they tried to address them in the fairest way possible to all people. The New York approach on the other hand has been a top down approach, with no public dialogue or input. New York really needs to have that dialogue before we move forward.
Congestion Pricing is a good idea, the Mayor is right the time is now, The plan however needs work.
Overall we're pleased with the proposal to
try a pilot of Congestion Pricing and are excited
to see ideas that can reduce the negative impacts
of automobiles in our city implemented. We however
think that as the plan was funded by powerful
business interests that there are some built
in biases and the plan should be adjusted to
benefit the most amount of New Yorkers as possible.
Congestion pricing is a sophisticated policy
tool and this plan feels more like a hammer
to us than a precise instrument. We have offered
a number of suggestions that we think can improve
the plan and also think that there needs to
be an open and inclusive planning process so
that all stake holders can have a voice in shaping
the plan prior to it being implemented. We fully
agree with the mayor that time is now for Congestion
Pricing is now and are also cognizant that a
larger setback to not than not having a plan
to reduce congestion would be to implement the
wrong plan. And whether the plan is approved
in Albany or not, we should move forward with
clarity, purpose and urgency to achieve the
goals of congestion pricing. As part of the
next phase we would like to see thinking that
goes beyond limiting cars by thinking about
our infrastructure in new ways to encourage
and incubate new mobility ideas. It's important
to realize that our goal is not to just limit
cars but to design a modern mobility system
that allows us move around in a way that is
healthier for environment, that is also safe,
affordable, easy, reliable-and of course
the envy of the world.
Contact: [email protected]