CONGESTED THINKING

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WPCNR THE SUNDAY BAILEY. News & Comment by John F. Bailey. March 20, 2022:

WORK CONTINUES ON CONGESTION PRICING, THE PLAN TO CHARGE VEHICLES THAT ENTER MID- AND LOWER MANHATTAN DURING PEAK TRAFFIC HOURS.

THE MTA AGENCY IS IN THE MIDDLE OF A FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TOLLING INFRASTRUCTURE IS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN IN 2023.

Why in the world does this plan, to make New York City a place nobody nowhere will want to  drive into– need an environmental review?

I can tell you what no environmental review can ever predict is the attitude of the people that will perhaps contribute more to polluting the environment than the present situation.

First, if more people do not come back to riding trains to  fund the MTA “dartboard budgeting” plans to  help the MTA (now filling trains at 50% capacity) and continue to drive in despite the tolls, this is going to pollute the atmosphere more. How much more? No one can predict that. I am coughing already in the neighborhoods above 60th Street where the exhaust fumes of cars will congest-up at the tolls

You have no way of judging whether this astounding plan will get people out of their cars, especially with the MTA admission in a cheerful press release last week that the subways need cleaning up and better security. I  thought they were cleaning the trains nightly the last two years, didn’t you?

But consider what has happened since masks came off in the schools when the winter break ended and masks could come off in restaurants and businesses. New York City Boroughs have gone up to 1,023 new covid infections in 6 days since we returned to “normal”.  

If the new variants spoke of in the New York Times today, come into New York, this will create a new factor. Persons will be highly reluctant to take trains and expose their faces to anyone possibly maskless rider. Will there be mask enforcement if someone gets on and takes the mask off? There has never been mask enforcement anywhere I have seen in Westchester County.

Why should we believe the MTA in saying this congestion tolling starting at 60th Street all the way to the battery, effectively cutting off half of Manhattan to drivers, inflating can even begin in 2023. We have not seen a plan of where the tolls will go, that I know of.

BUT TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT THIS GRAPHIC demonstrating the areas where entry into the city with your car will be subject to a toll.

 THIS SAYS TO ME THE ENTIRE SOUTH HALF OF MANHATTAN IS GOING TO BE TOLLED. This will be unbelievable to see. One way streets eastbound coming off the West Side Highway and one-way westbound streets accessible from the FDR Drive via Triboro Bridge (I refuse to call it the RFK Bridge) and of course the two way main crosstown conduits,Canal Street, 14th Street, 23rd Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street, 59th Street , (I think 52nd Street is two-way, too), would have to be tolled two-way (what a decision!)

Now the other decision: how many toll gantries or whetever will be placed on the one-ways? Every one? Otherwise you have discretion tolling. If you do not toll every one-way street south of 60th Street, you will have so much congestion from 60TH you will have to hire humans to direct the turns onto the North South bound avenues.

There are 12 North South avenues in Manhattan. I believe six are one way North, or South, and Broadway, Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue Broadway, 8th Avenue are two way North and South. They would have to be considered for tolls at where they end in the north and the south. What backups!

 HOW MANY AND WHAT KIND OF AUTOMATIC TOLLING GANTRYS OR CAMERAS or EZ PASS READERS ARE GOING TO BE NEEDED. I asked the source of the MTA press release what kind of tolling apparatus would be installed, and if they had been ordered yet and how many? I am still waiting for an answer.

IT HAS TO BE EASILY 200 EAST WEST STREETS DEVICES AT EITHER END; AND IF YOU DO NOT HAVE EZ PASS YOU HAVE TO PHOTOGRAPH LOG AND MAIL THE TOLL TO THEM.

IS THIS CRAZY OR WHAT. AND SINCE THEY HAVE NOT ORDERED THE DEVICES, TO MY KNOWLEDGE, THEY ONLY HAVE 9 MONTHS. THIS IS UNBELIEVABLY NAÏVE PLANNING.

 FORGET ABOUT DRIVING IN FOR OFFBROADWAY PRODUCTIONS IN THE VILLAGE; DRIVING IN TO STROLL THE HIGH LINE, SHOP MIDTOWN, LET ALONE BROADWAY SHOWS. At perhaps $9 a car plus the parking garage, it will cost perhaps $40 just to get in and park.

For me to take Brenda Starr and I into Manhattan under congestion pricing, adding $9 to the parking garage fee of $30 (at a discount garage), I’d say to make congestion pricing get people to switch to the trains, in theory you should charge the cars more than $9 to make taking the trains the more affordable alternative. They have to charge $10 more than a Roundtrip train ticket, perhaps $20 more. There is no understanding or thinking in structuring this pricing, that I can see, (it’s too low).

WE ARE SEEING EXTREMELY STRONG RIDERSHIP EAST OF THE HUDSON OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS,”  said the MTA in its press release two weeks ago.

The reason for congestion pricing? The press release (you can read it on this website) said:

THE CONGESTION (in midtown) IS HARMING OUR ABILITY TO DELIVER KEY SERVICES…WE HAVE TO HAVE BUSES. WE HAVE TO HAVE AMBULANCES AND OTHER EMERGENCY VEHICLES BE ABLE TO GET AROUND…WE HAVE TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR ALL THE DELIVERY TRUCKS THAT ARE NOW THE REALITY OF OUR MODERN ECONOMY TO MAKE THEIR WAY AROUND. THAT IS WHAT, AMONG OTHER THINGS, IS PRESSING US TO ADOPT A CONGESTION-PRICING SYSTEM.”

People like driving in because they do not like riding the trains. They never have. They use them because they can drive their cars to the station park and avoid the higher price of paid monthly parking in the city. Congestion pricing will not make New York City more attractive to companies considering Manhattan. 

Now, if the environmental review has still yet to be completed, and when it is completed they conclude the effects of congestion pricing will not create adverse impacts on the environment, it is poppycock.

 Any environmental decision based on optimistic predictions not based on performances in the past, and Pollyanna outcomes you want to happen is an enablement. Often careless environmental reviews will create unanticipated, perhaps disastrous consequences.

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