NYC's farsighted congestion pricing plan dead

As you may have read this morning in numerous other outlets, New York City’s plan to implement congestion pricing in Manhattan was defeated last night without reaching a vote on the floor. [NYT] The plan would have charged most cars $8 and trucks $21 to enter traffic-choked Midtown and Lower Manhattan during busy hours on weekdays, with the majority of the funds raised for improving transit service and access in the city. It died an unceremonious death behind closed doors, with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver deciding to keep it from going to the floor for a vote.

Along with the projected $500 million that was to be raised annually by congestion pricing that would have improved transit service and air quality, New York loses out on $354 million dollars from the federal government that would have provided money for new buses, routes, and transit improvements, as well as funding the implementation of the program.

You may recall that the $354 million for transit, with the caveat that congestion pricing be implemented, was part of the Department of Transportation’s plan to test out several new programs to alleviate congestion in cities across the U.S. Secretary Mary Peters has already made a statement that the money will now be going elsewhere.

In a city with the highest transit ridership in the country; where large percentages of people in neighborhoods across the city don’t own a car, it’s unfortunate that the political leadership in several boroughs were able to kill this visionary plan behind closed doors.

Mayor Bloomberg was disappointed — and angry:

Today is a sad day for New Yorkers and a sad day for New York City. Not only won’t we see the realization of a plan that would have cut traffic, spurred our economy, reduced pollution and improved public health, we will also lose out on nearly $500 million annually for mass transit improvements and $354 million in immediate federal funds.

The New York Times called out Sheldon Silver for his failure to lead; failure to improve transit, and failure to clean up the air in New York City. For more information, detailed reaction, as well as the facts about congestion pricing in New York, check out Streetsblog today for their full post-mortem.