City Council Member David Yassky has come out in favor of congestion pricing, with the caveat that "many features of the Mayor’s proposal will need to be reworked." Yassky’s Brooklyn district, it’s worth noting, encompasses three East River bridges, the Battery Tunnel and a seemingly endless number of of honking, spewing, frustrated motorists. Until last week, Yassky had been a long-time fence-sitter on the congestion pricing issue. Why did he finally commit? Last week Mayor Bloomberg announced that New York City’s taxi fleet would be converted to all-hybrid vehicles by 2012. The Mayor was notably generous in crediting Yassky (twice, on national television, in the presence of Al Roker, no less) for conceiving of and fighting for the hybrid taxi initiative in City Council. Here’s what Yassky wrote in an e-mail announcement to constituents:
I want you to know that I have decided to support the Mayor’s congestion pricing proposal. I firmly believe that the ever more pressing danger of climate change, and the immediate threat to the City’s economic and respiratory health posed by excessive traffic, require a serious response.
I recognize that many features of the Mayor’s proposal will need to be reworked. In particular, the boundaries of the "charge zone" and the pricing of the tunnels need further thought. Fuel-efficient cars and trucks should be exempt from the charge. Most important, I have insisted that our neighborhoods in northwest Brooklyn must be protected by residential parking permits, and that the whole City must see a significant improvement in bus service (through more express bus lines and dedicated bus lanes on major arteries) before any congestion charge goes into effect. But looking at the entire picture, I believe the right thing is to join the Mayor’s effort.