April 8, 2008 By Wayne Hanson
New York Gov. David A. Paterson yesterday acknowledged that the New York City congestion pricing plan he submitted to the state Legislature had failed, saying: "Earlier today congestion pricing failed to achieve the consensus necessary to move forward on the state level. As I've said all along, this is an important program to reduce congestion and pollution in New York City while raising vitally needed funds for mass transit."
The plan would have levied an $8 fee on vehicles entering the congested area south of 60th street in Manhattan. Opponents in the Legislature, however, termed it "elitist" and cited it as an obstacle to free movement about the city.
"Now we need to come up with innovative approaches to the challenge of funding mass transit," continued Paterson. "Over the next several days I will be working closely with my colleagues in the Legislature and experts both in and outside of government to arrive at such solutions."
New York City Mayor Bloomberg, who included the congestion pricing plan in his PlaNYC, and was supported by the City Council, was clearly miffed by the failure, saying today that it was a "market-based solution to unsnarling the traffic tie-ups that sap $13 billion a year from our regional economy and foul the air we breathe. And in the bargain, it also could create a dedicated fund for mass transit improvements."
Forwarding the proposal were what Bloomberg termed "a coalition of liberals and conservatives; environmentalists and business leaders; developers and preservationists: People who in the past haven't been able to agree on the time of day. But unfortunately," continued Bloomberg in a release, "as most of you know, yesterday the majority caucus in the Assembly chose not to bring the governor's congestion pricing bill to a vote -- effectively killing it. They complained about the inconvenience -- even though most New Yorkers don't drive. They said it hadn't been studied enough -- despite an entire years' worth of analysis, following a process they had established. And ultimately, they didn't even have the courage to vote on it -- they just killed it in a back room."
Bloomberg continued, saying congestion pricing was one of only 127 items in the PlaNYC agenda and many of them require no approval from other branches of government. "One thing that I've learned in government is that there's always a good reason to do nothing. But business -- and government, too -- both increasingly recognize that going green is the best -- indeed the only -- pro-growth strategy, not just for the long term, but in the short run as well."