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Old 02-05-2012, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
10,752 posts, read 25,531,740 times
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The danger with the MTA is that under the current structure, once they get a certain level of funding, they want that to be maintained. They cannot profit from the tax on automobile travel if people stop driving, not to mention taxing the agency's limited transportation resources, should everyone eschew any other sort of transit than that which is run by the MTA. So, when the revenues dip from Manhattan, the congestion pricing model could be easily extended to other areas, avenues, transportation corridors, using the existing congestion model as a means to grab even more power to tax.

The other issue is that the original congestion pricing model includeed the UES and UWS, which are overwhelmingly residential in character, so it is not a proposal for just a central business district. It was subsequently amended to below 60th Street, where there are areas that are not as residential in character, but it depends upon where below 60th as Sutton Place, Beekman, parts of Midtown East, etc. fall in the zone, yet are not commercial districts. I have no doubt that the amended plan was to create the tax below 60th and then implement extensions to go back to 86th, which was in the original proposal. And, then, based upon that "success," the tax would be rolled out to include up to 110th/96th, encompassing all of the UES/UWS, and could then be exported to the other boroughs, if not encompassing all of Manhattan.

I also do not believe in the altruistic motives of reducing vehicular travel as an improvement in the quality of life, since it's a tax, and the goal of a tax is revenue. When revenue dips, the tax rate increases, or the jurisdiction of the tax expands to at least maintain, if not grow, the source of funding. It can also be argued that one of the largest contributors to asthma is the MTA, itself, as there are proportionally higher rates of asthma in areas closer to the bus garages. Furthermore, there is a general trend of increased asthma rates in the US, but the CDC is at a loss to explain how cleaner air and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, have been on the decrease, while asthma is on the increase, but the application of the definition of asthma covers more today than it did in previous generations, including allergen-induced asthma that is not reflective of overall general air quality.

If the goal is to improve air quality, than the tax cannot be levied merely because of the presence fo a vehicle, but should be proportionally assessed to reflect the particulate emissions that a particular vehicle emits within a zone. A ZEV, PZEV, ULEV, and LEV should not be assessed at the same rates as higher contributors to pollutants, if air quality is an argument against private vehicles. London has reductions and exemptions by vehicle, up to 100% of the use tax, which allows said vehicles to operate within the congestion zones.

It's en vogue to vilify private vehicle transportation, and I agree that people should explore transportation alternatives, but not through a tax levied on one group of drivers that may or may not be one of the larger contributors to the issues that come along with congestion. Where has it been proven that privately-operated vehicles are the cause of all of these problems in the city? I say that they are the cause of all problems, because those are the vehicles that will have to bear the costs of such a plan, given the exemptions for some of the largest polluters, some of which still idle by the curb.
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:09 PM
 
4,911 posts, read 6,821,171 times
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As bmwguy continues to steal everyone in the thread's girlfriends while they weep in the corner...
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Planet Earth
3,849 posts, read 7,296,286 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by availableusername View Post
As bmwguy continues to steal everyone in the thread's girlfriends while they weep in the corner...
*Cracks knuckles*

Let me handle this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwguydc View Post
1) Congestion pricing is another tax on vehicle owners to fund the MTA, which seemingly wants an unlimited budget. Don't delude yourselves into thinking that this will increase mass transit options in the city because it will be just another funding source that the agency uses to get its way while still providing a deteriorating level of service, especially with all the riders such a plan would force into the system.

2) If the city wants to look into HOT lanes whereby one could elect to pay a toll to drive in a free-er lane (since I doubt it would be free-flowing) to get around some of the traffic on the avenues, that's one thing, since there is a choice involved. However, it's not feasible as there is no way that I know of to expand the roadways for such use, without destroying large swaths of the city. Eliminating on-street parking on some avenues might help to create enough room for such a lane, but why not build a bicycle expressway instead?

3) There are people who own property in Manhattan, yet have vehicles that are registered to another house, or may use a rental car, yet they have to pay a tax to get to their own house?

4) Furthermore, one who lives in Queens or Brooklyn, yet has a need to drive downtown has to pay congestion pricing when they are already city residents?

5) Who determines the level of congestion when pricing comes into play, and is it a set toll/tax, for entering the zone, or is it pro-rated by how long one is in the zone? What about carpools? Do they get to drive for free within the zone, or at reduced tax rates? If they city were designed with a truly central business district, i.e., no residential/medical/or other uses in the same zone, then sure, said tax could be imposed within that district; but, that is not Manhattan.

6) Many other transit systems use zone pricing by ridership distance, so that those who use more of the system's resources pay proportionally more than those who use the system for shorter rides.

7) Manhattan already has fire lanes and bus lanes that allow for transport of emergency vehicles, and mass transit vehicles, so perhaps better lane descriptions and an electronic toll collection service for vehicles that "stray" into those lanes for travel, not to make a turn, would be a more productive means of enforcement. People who were hit with a $250 toll for driving in the bus lane, for example, during peak hours, from 86th Street to 59th Street, would most likely not do it again, but with little chance of real enforcement, people may drive in the lanes when they should not do so.

8) And, when the MTA exhausts Manhattan, I could easily foresee special transportation corridor pricing introduced on other roadways in the outer boroughs, so that there would be even more money to waste, especially if congestion revenues dip in Manhattan because people are forced to take public transit. Perhaps then, bicycles would have to be licensed as well, so that registration taxes, and perhaps even tolls could be collected from those who choose to ride their bicycle, and not patronize the MTA. What's next? Walkers being charged for excessive sidewalk wear because their municipally-issued pedometers reported that they had walked 50 more miles than the average citizen in their zone did during the same period? Yes, I am being extreme, but it's very easy to point the finger at another who commutes differently, i.e., the characterization that all auto trips are frivolous, and that nobody "needs" a car in the city.
1) That's because the state insists on cutting the MTA's budget. The last round of service reductions saved $93 million, and meanwhile the state voted to take $143 million from the MTA for use in the general fund. That means that every single service reduction could've been avoided and there would be a $50 million surplus, which could be used for a variety of things (paying down debt, holding off another fare hike, expanding service, etc)

Plus, you have a bunch of other agencies that are freeloading off the MTA. I'm the biggest supporter of the Student MetroCard program there is, but the Department of Education should've covered every cent of the program. Instead, the city paid $25 million, the state paid $45 million, and the MTA was left with $144 million in costs. And then you had the whole thing with Long Island Bus, which the MTA finally cut off at the beginning of this year. And I'm sure there's a bunch of other agencies taking advantage of the MTA that haven't made it to the news.

2) The problem with that is that it doesn't address the issues of bad air quality, since you'd still have congestion but it would just be distributed differently.

3) Well, that's the price you pay for living near the Central Business District. Plus, there are a bunch of other costs associated with driving into Manhattan: Namely gas and wear-and-tear from sitting in traffic (or even if you're not sitting in traffic, you still incur those costs).

Plus, the transit system could expand to accomodate them. Express buses often deadhead back to the outer boroughs (they carry a busload of passengers into Manhattan, and then run completely empty back to either the garage or to begin another trip). If those buses ran in service, people would have a viable option for reverse-commuting. If their destination isn't directly served by the express bus, they could park by an express bus stop in the outer boroughs and take the express bus to/from their home in Manhattan.

4) The fact that they're city residents doesn't stop them from polluting the air.

5) If you're in a carpool, you're already getting a reduced toll because the per-person rate is less.

6) We're not "other systems". Seriously: The socioeconomic distribution of NYC makes a zone-fare system hard to implement. The neighborhoods right by the city's core are the wealthiest, and often the neighborhoods towards the end of subway lines tend to be poor or working-class (Coney Island, Far Rockaway, Jamaica, East NY, etc). I mean, there are plenty of middle-class areas near the end of subway lines (Riverdale, Bay Ridge, etc), but even they aren't as wealthy as the neighborhoods right by the CBD.

7) Well, can't argue with that.

8) Walking doesn't cause any real environmental or economic impact (congestion does cost money in the form of delayed deliveries and things like that). Aside from that, if there was a stipulation that the MTA would have to improve the transit lines paralleling the roads they want to toll, then I wouldn't have a problem with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwguydc View Post
1) The danger with the MTA is that under the current structure, once they get a certain level of funding, they want that to be maintained. They cannot profit from the tax on automobile travel if people stop driving, not to mention taxing the agency's limited transportation resources, should everyone eschew any other sort of transit than that which is run by the MTA.

2) If the goal is to improve air quality, than the tax cannot be levied merely because of the presence of a vehicle, but should be proportionally assessed to reflect the particulate emissions that a particular vehicle emits within a zone. A ZEV, PZEV, ULEV, and LEV should not be assessed at the same rates as higher contributors to pollutants, if air quality is an argument against private vehicles. London has reductions and exemptions by vehicle, up to 100% of the use tax, which allows said vehicles to operate within the congestion zones.
1) There are always going to be people who drive into the CBD and pay the fee. Not to mention that if they switch to transit, they're still paying the MTA money.

And like I said, even if the rail system is at capacity, they could still accomodate the excess riders by making buses more attractive. Express buses and BRT can definitely take some of the strain of the trains.

2) Sure, why not?
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:38 AM
 
Location: Manhattan
20,144 posts, read 26,425,454 times
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Quote:
1) That's because the state insists on cutting the MTA's budget. The last round of service reductions saved $93 million, and meanwhile the state voted to take $143 million from the MTA for use in the general fund. That means that every single service reduction could've been avoided and there would be a $50 million surplus, which could be used for a variety of things (paying down debt, holding off another fare hike, expanding service, etc)

So then in essence this is yet another REGRESSIVE tax that straphangers must pay into the general fund so that the upper tax brackets can be kept lower than they need to be.
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:11 PM
 
8,750 posts, read 15,555,711 times
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Congestion pricing doesn't work without the investment/expansion/upgrade of public transportation alternatives, including protected bike lanes, increased buses, light rail systems (did you know they are planning one for the 42nd St corridor..east to west?), expanded train lines, etc.

And the benefits of congestion pricing are not just increased funding for public transportation, it is to reduce CONGESTION, ease traffic, decrease pollutants, wear and tear on the roads/infrastructure, and promote alternate forms of more environmentally friendly transportation = everyone is better off.

But it only works with an equal investment and expansion in public transportation. If it is just money diverted to other uses, then it would be a waste on not accomplish anything but make the MTA fat.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:00 PM
 
Location: Planet Earth
3,849 posts, read 7,296,286 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SobroGuy View Post
Congestion pricing doesn't work without the investment/expansion/upgrade of public transportation alternatives, including protected bike lanes, increased buses, light rail systems (did you know they are planning one for the 42nd St corridor..east to west?), expanded train lines, etc.

But it only works with an equal investment and expansion in public transportation. If it is just money diverted to other uses, then it would be a waste on not accomplish anything but make the MTA fat.
They're not planning anything for 42nd Street. They're just throwing around the idea, but it's not going to get anywhere.

In any case, the fees should definitely be used to fund better service to accomodate the riders who will switch to transit. Subways take years to build, but in the short term they could always add more buses.
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:52 AM
 
8,750 posts, read 15,555,711 times
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What insight do you have that it is not going anywhere? Are you privy to the meetings? Insider info? It may not be a light rail, it may be express buses, but 42nd will be closed to cars..that is the end goal, and will be an expanded pedestrian area.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:49 PM
 
Location: London, NYC, DC
1,118 posts, read 1,906,558 times
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@bmwguydc:

The MTA can't profit because it will never make a profit, in the same way that no mass transport system in the world apart from Hong Kong's MTR does, or in the same way that the Interstate Highway System is a fiscal loss worse than almost any piece of infrastructure in the US. Then why do we have it? Because infrastructure funds an intrinsic good. If you were to simply take the subway out of service tomorrow, NYC's economy would grind to a halt. Thus, we need to keep funding it or else we fall even further behind. No one said that single-occupant drivers are the cause of all congestion in NYC, but they contribute to a significant portion of it, and as a result should pay for the damage that they cause.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
10,752 posts, read 25,531,740 times
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I am not for abolishing the MTA or actually raising prices to where it could break even, as that could be $10 each way for some commutes, but there are alternatives to the assault on motor vehicles that is a political issue in the city. It can be argued that one who lives in Manhattan already pays higher taxes, in the form of property tax on a higher value property, parking tax, etc. such that it's lunacy to force this on residents, since the proposal floated encompassed large swaths of residential real estate.

I would actually favor a separate use tax for dedicated MTA funding, pulling all the hidden taxes out of the system, and then allowing for funding that cannot be siphoned off to the general fund, unless the MTA turned a profit.
__________________
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
~William Shakespeare
(As You Like It Act II, Scene VII)

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Old 02-08-2012, 11:52 AM
 
142 posts, read 218,949 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by citylove101 View Post
This isn't anything even close to socialism or comminuism. It's the exact opposite -- hard -core capitalism at its most extreme. Why? Because you must pay for what you use. I don't pay fopr it and neither does anyone else but you-- who has to pay for the right to drive downtown at a certain time.

Economists talk about "the tragedy of the commons" Establishing a common area in a town where everyone could let their cattle graze seemed like a great idea. Until everyone did it and soon there was no commons left because everyone boight more and more cattle. the grass was gone. Its the same idea here. Everybody can drive in Midtown because we all paid for the roads with our taxes --until things become so congested NOBODY can drive at all. Same Principle. So you have to ration who gets to drive there at some point. In a capitalist society that rationing is done by price.

You can make arguments about whether we need it or not, how it might affect mass transit, how to handle delivery trucks and cabs, and the like. But essentially its a pretty hard core capitalist way to allocate who gets to drive in Midtown and who doesn't. Whoever can pay the price can drive wherever and whenever he wants.
I don't necesarily disagree with you, but it's worth mentioning that "the tragedy of the commons" was initially invoked to justify the enclosure acts, which basically turned public grazing land over to rich landowners. Whether or not those pastures were always so degraded probably depended on one's vested interest and point of view.
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