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New York City Moves to Congestion Tax
Congestion taxing and speed cameras are part of a New York City, New York plan to generate a billion in revenue from drivers.

Mayor Bloomberg
In a speech yesterday, New York City, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg openly embraced the concept of the congestion tax that city transportation officials have been working on quietly for more than a year. Under the proposal, the city will charge motorists an initial fee of $8 and truckers $21 to enter the city between 6am and 6pm on weekdays. A massive infrastructure of surveillance cameras and electronic tag readers will be installed to collect the revenue. The proposal was one of dozens of ideas designed to raise more than a billion dollars annually from the driving public.

"The question is not whether we want to pay but how do we want to pay," Bloomberg said.

The mayor is counting on "hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding" to bankroll the cameras and RFID tag readers needed to collect the commuter tax. The plan will be introduced as part of a three-year pilot project, after which time the initial charge is likely to increase significantly, as happened with the London charging scheme.

"In setting the fee, there's no magic number, but it has to be high enough to encourage more people to switch to mass transit and low enough not to break the bank -- for businesses and for those who have to drive," Bloomberg said.

Last year, the Queens Chamber of Commerce issued a report showing the city would lose $1.89 billion a year in business as motorists choose to avoid the city altogether. The lost revenue would also take with it 23,100 jobs in the city.

Bloomberg's other proposals include taking driving lanes away from cars and designating them as "bus only" or as high-occupancy vehicle carpool lanes. He also plans to expand the use of multi-space parking meters designed to double-charge for parking.

Bloomberg is counting on a windfall from traffic ticket revenue to further boost revenue from his plan. Crossing guards and other civilians charged with directing traffic would be given a new power to issue traffic citations as city police are encouraged to step up the number of tickets issued in the city. A new "idling" offense has been created to boost the number of cars to cite. Finally, Bloomberg wants to introduce speed cameras and massively expand the city's existing red light camera program.

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