AUG 16, 2017
Create transit alternatives
Between 2007 and 2008, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a specially appointed state commission pushed to create an $8 fee for inbound car trips into the Manhattan core between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays. It was projected to produce $491 million annually for transit improvements, cut driving time spent in standstill traffic by 30 percent, and slash emissions.
Crucially, the plan also included a transit build-out. Expanded local and express bus and subway service was called for, in order to prove transit as a viable alternative for an even greater share of commuters and show the congestion fees weren’t meant to be punitive. With the MTA, the city secured $354 million in federal funds for these improvements, contingent on the passage of the plan. But the plan got blocked in the state legislature—more on that in a moment—and the improvements didn’t come to fruition.
These days, it’s going to be harder to convince New York City car commuters who balk at congestion fees that great transit alternatives exist. On-time performance on the subways is tanking, and the buses are even worse.