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Congestion pricing will improve commutes for Bklyn cyclists and straphangers, analysts say

Lit: Congestion pricing got the green light on Sunday as the state Legislature and Gov. Cuomo passed the initiative as part of the state’s $175 billion budget.
Brooklyn Paper
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The state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed congestion pricing on Sunday as part of the state’s $175 billion budget.

Analysts say the move will only affect between one and two percent of the Kings Countians who drive cars into the distant isle of Manhattan below 60th Street, but local cyclists say the scheme will also transform the commutes of thousands of Brooklynites who commute on two wheels, by reducing the number of overall cars on the roadways and leaving more room for alternative forms of transportation.

“Brooklyn drivers will barely be impacted by congestion pricing, according to some recent studies, and it will greatly improve the overall streetscape south of 60th Street to the benefit of thousands upon thousands of Brooklyn cyclists and pedestrians that commute into Manhattan daily,” said Ridgite Dan Hetteix, a member of the newly-formed cycling advocacy group Bike South Brooklyn.

City data shows that the amount of cyclists who ride from the Borough of Churches into the distant isle has grown exponentially within the past decade: an average of 10,429 cyclists per day rode into Lower Manhattan over the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges during the seven-month period of April – October 2017 — nearly forty percent more than the number of cyclists who rode over those bridges during the same period nine years earlier.

The Big Apple is now the first city in the nation to implement congestion pricing, which will charge a yet-to-be-determined fee to drivers entering Manhattan within the affected boundary at peak times beginning in 2021, according to the governor’s office, which added that drivers of passenger vehicles will not be charged more than once per day.

The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and a new traffic mobility review board will determine the cost of the toll and which drivers will receive exemptions, according to a report in the New York Times, which added that 80 percent of the toll revenue will be directed to the subway and bus systems, while the last 20 percent will be evenly split between the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad.

Proponents of the decades-old idea have said the pricing will provide about $1 billion annually to the MTA, which the agency could use to secure bonds for up to $15 billion to fund improvements to the city’s beleaguered subway system, according to AM New York. And analysts say that the tolls will impact a marginal number of Brooklynites: a rep for the independent Regional Plan Association said on the Brooklyn Paper Radio Show last month that the pricing scheme will impact only 1.3 percent of Kings Countians.

And data compiled by pro-congestion pricing organization Tri-State Transportation Campaign predicted a slightly higher impact on the Borough of Churches, estimating that 2.4 percent of its commuters will regularly pay the charge, and adding that more than 60 percent of its residents take public transit and would benefit from transit improvements.

Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed on April 1 that congestion pricing will help fix what he called the “broken subway system,” and called the tolls “our best hope at getting the trains moving and ending the suffering our riders face every day.”

Those who oppose the measure, including Kings County’s own Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush), charge that the pricing amounts to an unfair burden on the poor.

Other local pols — including Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus (D-Coney Island) and state Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge) — signaled their lukewarm support for the plan’s potential to improve the subways, but said they also worried about the impact the fares could have on the less than four percent of their constituents who commute into the distant isle by car.

Gounardes — who represents the transit-starved district of Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach — called himself “cautiously supportive” of the plan, but said he would withhold his full support until the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority released more details on the fares and which, if any, drivers would be exempt from paying them.

“Congestion pricing, as a means to fund critical infrastructure improvement, is a start, but the devil is in the details,” Gounardes told this newspaper. “Southern Brooklyn elected me to fight for desperately needed transit upgrades and protect their bottom line, not the MTA’s.”

Other cities that already use the tolling scheme — including London and Stockholm — have seen environmentally beneficial results, according to pro-congestion pricing campaign Fix Our Transit. In London, the measure has reduced traffic by 15 percent and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, and in Stockholm, congestion pricing has cut in half the number of children who sought treatment for asthma at local hospitals, according to Fix Our Transit. A rep for the national Environmental Defense Fund advocacy organization said the Big Apple’s new tolling plan will set a precedent for other cities across the nation by improving air quality and encouraging alternative forms of transportation.

“As the first place in the United States to implement congestion pricing, New York will help lead the way for other cities and states that are serious about tackling pollution from transporta­tion,” said New York regional director Andy Darrell. “New Yorkers everywhere can finally celebrate this win, with fewer cars on the road and cleaner air for all.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 9:47 am, April 2, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Everyone wins, bring it on!
April 1, 4:52 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Congestion pricing will not eliminate congestion. But it will make everything you buy cost more. Why are pedalists exempted from the charge?
April 1, 10:20 pm
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
Those hardworking taxpayers, tollpayers and fare payers in NYS need ultimate accountability towards the MTA through a series of thorough audits on how these cronies are properly spent on our money and Governor Cuomo got their word by deeply reforming the MTA from within.
April 2, 6:50 am
Lieberman from Midwood Park says:
How will this affect already scarce parking in Brooklyn Heights and other neighborhoods on the "right" side of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges? (For that matter, parking on the Queens dies of the 59th St bridge and QMT may also be aggravated.) Consequences!
April 2, 9:05 am
Mustafa Khant from Atlantic Ave says:
Brooklyn needs congestion pricing too. We need to charge people to drive in downtown Brooklyn. We will have pots and pots of money!
April 2, 9:42 am
Slow Walker from Trans-River says:
NOTHING and NO AMOUNT OF NEW FUNDING will satisfy the bottomless maw of the historically featherbedded MTA and PA BRIDGES AND TUNNELS. BOHICA!
April 2, 10:25 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Nothing will change except richer people taking advantage of less comgestion to drive more. This is a middle class smack in the face.
April 2, 10:50 am
Tyler from pps says:
It's almost like congestion pricing is brand new and it's never been successfully implemented in major cities around the globe...
April 2, 11:12 am
Joe from Brooklyn from Midwood says:
This is a tax purely to extort money and it has little to do with health, it is a money maker. The major congestion in Manhattan is caused by double parked cars and truck, taxis drivers who refuse to pull to the curb for passengers, construction blocking the streets and sidewalks and construction vehicle drivers that refuse to be considerate of any bodies right to use the street. The Mayor and the Building Department allow developers free reign of the streets in NYC. One block can have several construction sites on it making those streets almost impassable. This is not driven by the will of the many, it is driven by the will of the Manhattan residents who are the wealthiest people in NYC. Are Manhattan residents going to pay this tax when they drive in and out Manhattan? It is also driven by politicians wanting to get more money and to satisfy their rich Manhattan donors. How about those people who cannot take the train or the bus for physical reasons? This places an unfair financial burden on the handicap. A cab which costs over $35.00 plus tip from where I live to get into midtown which is more costly than the toll and this unfair tax put together. If the Mayor is truly worried about the environment, will electric cars enter without this tax? No because it is only about money. The premise for congestion pricing is a lie.
April 2, 11:18 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Nothing is set in stone here. All that was done was get the idea to be included in the budget for further discussion and nothing else. Until they can get it finalized at the end of 2020, this can be still be stopped. Keep in mind that there are still some politicians from the outer boroughs and suburbs that are still not very keen on congestion pricing while others say they will only support it hence carve outs for them. Meanwhile, NJ politicians oppose the idea because they feel that those from their areas who are driving will be paying a double toll in which they feel right now they are already paying a form of congestion pricing to enter. Please at the upcoming hearings mention this, "Don't amend it, end it!" Overall, this is nothing more than a regressive tax to those who can't afford it while being a punishment to those who have little to no alternatives to driving. I won't be surprised if those who support the idea either don't drive on a regular basis to understand what some of motorists go through or can easily afford it on their income and won't be deterred by it.
April 2, 11:59 am
Guest from NYC says:
Congestion pricing is a great policy that should have been implemented years ago. With less cars in the core the city could use the streets for other uses. Even a small decline could mean space for more bus lanes, expanded sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian only streets. This benefits a lot more people. The money for transit is a bonus.
April 2, 11:39 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Math matters. To raise a billion dollars at lets say an average of $20 per vehicle would require over 200.000 vehicles per business day...
April 3, 5:49 am
Cost more says:
Everything will cost more. Some people won't be satisfied till all deliveries of goods are done on those lousy citi bikes.
April 3, 8:17 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
"Cities around the world. . . " Yep - Andy, Bloomberg, de Blasio would really really like to be just like Europe. It would be a lot easier to be Mayor or Governor there- they have no Bill of Rights.
April 3, 3:03 pm
P.i.t.a. from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Do you really think people will drive into Downtown Brooklyn looking for a spot when there are so few? And when they don't find any, they'll just drive home? Every day? Just put on your big girl panties and take the subway like everyone else. And imagine driving in Manhattan when the traffic actually moves ... I've been to Singapore, and driving in the city (in a cab) is easy ...
April 4, 2:35 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I wonder which one of the NYC bridges are those supporters trying to sell by claiming that congestion pricing will work and go where it's supposed to as opposed to so many other funds making similar claims.
April 4, 2:53 pm

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