Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Congestion Price Legislation Gets Green Light

Congestion Price Legislation Gets Green Light
By Maggie Astor

City Council passed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial congestion pricing plan Monday by an unusually close vote of 30-20.

The approval of the plan—which would charge an additional $8 toll for cars and $21 for trucks entering Manhattan below 60th Street on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.—comes at a time when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority also finds itself low on funds. An unexpected shortage in revenue recently led the MTA to postpone promised service upgrades, including increased evening service on the 1 train. This follows the March implementation of a $360 million MetroCard fare hike, which was expected to produce a 3.85 percent increase in earnings.

Local council members Robert Jackson (D-West Harlem) and Inez Dickens (D-Harlem and Morningside Heights) both voted in favor of the plan.

Jackson voiced his support of the proposal at a Community Board 12 meeting on March 25, saying, “If I had to vote right now, I would probably vote yes.”

Senator Bill Perkins (D-West Harlem) also announced his backing of the policy.
But Council member and 2009 mayoral candidate Tony Avella (D-Queens) spoke sharply against the plan shortly before the vote.

“It [congestion pricing] is not going to solve the traffic problem,” Avella said. “People don’t drive into Manhattan because they like it, they do it because they have to ... I certainly understand the problem with this, but we have to do something for all the boroughs and not hurt the people who are already being heavily taxed.”

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is widely expected to run for mayor, voted in favor of the plan.

The New York State Legislature will vote on the plan, after which Governor David Paterson, CC ’77, must approve it. Paterson recently declared his support for the proposal.

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