David Yassky Supports Congestion Pricing

Yassky2.jpgCity 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.

12 thoughts on David Yassky Supports Congestion Pricing

  1. I’m not sure I agree that “fuel-efficient” cars and trucks should be exempt. The point is to reduce traffic, not just reduce pollution. Let’s say most new cars in ten years will qualify under his “fuel efficient” moniker…won’t that put as back to square one?

  2. There could easily be a trial period for fuel-efficient cars which gives hybrid owners two or three years of free rides. As long as people know there is an end date to such a trial, they will not be upset when the day comes for everyone to pay the charge.

  3. there should be at least a 75% discount for alternative fuel cars (and especially diesel-electric or gasoline-electric hybrids). the best part of this is that it will help clean up some of the trucks in this city.

  4. What’s the argument against residential parking permits? As a resident local to West 86th, I’d be perfectly happy if they restricted parking from 86th up to the top of the Manhattan during the work week. Not having accessible free parking would have the added benefit of dissuading incoming drivers, regardless of congestion pricing. If they’re worried about keeping out transient shoppers/visitors, perhaps non-permitted vehicles can be given a three hour window? Something not long enough for a CBD worker to exploit. Perhaps even more parking meters would help limit all-day parkers?

  5. to be truly fair, the “fuel-efficient” category should include non-hybrid models that are simply small enough to get over 35mpg. a hybrid SUV that gets 20mpg is still not truly “fuel-efficient”. somehow, some way, our society needs to be weaned off of its addiction to behemoth-sized vehicles.

  6. #2, agreed. Adding that in opens a whole can of worms, in my opinion.

    #4, maybe a better answer would be increased emissions standards for trucks in NYC. The green taxi initiative will have phased out all non-hybrids after a few years. Higher standards for delivery trucks also makes sense.

  7. The talk about fuel-efficient vehicles seems to be a minor issue that he won’t fight for. The major issue is: “Most important, I have insisted that our neighborhoods in northwest Brooklyn must be protected by residential parking permits.” I think parking permits are a useful addition to congestion pricing: they make it less likely that people will use adjoining neighborhoods as their park-and-ride lot, and more likely that people will do all or most of their commute using transit.

  8. Since all the resonses are in the subjunctive could or should sense how about congestion pricing for the neighborhoods abutting the bridges in Brooklyn and Queens?

  9. It makes a lot of sense, Niccolo, but then you lose the convenience of having only six entry points on the south and east sides of the zone. There’s no good barrier between the more congested parts of Brooklyn and Queens and the less congested parts. There are some natural boundaries, like the Sunnyside Yards, Flushing Meadows and the cemetaries, but they don’t correspond to any meaningful zone boundary, so you’re forced to copy the London system fairly closely.

    Plus if you believe there’s an edge effect (and from what I’ve heard about London there isn’t), then expanding the zone just moves the edge effect somewhere else.

  10. NO to any significant discount for hybrids.

    Hybrids can still kill, or at least bully, pedestrians, the real engines of the City’s economy.

  11. Thank you David Yassky. I’m a commuter from Queens who wants mass transit improvements, less congestion, and less pollution.
    I support the Mayors plan.

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