3/24/2008New York Moving Forward on Congestion Tax
Newly sworn-in New York governor joins Bloomberg push for congestion tax.
The New York City Council will hold hearings today to discuss implementing Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to tax motorists driving into Manhattan. Newly sworn-in Governor David A. Paterson (D) wasted no time Friday in announcing not only that he supported the mayor's plan to tax motorists to fund busing, but that he would introduce his own legislation to implement it.
"We expect that revenue from the congestion pricing plan will support more than $4.5 billion in needed capital improvements for mass transit," Patterson said in a statement.
Patterson and Bloomberg are trying to land the $354 million bribe offered by federal transportation officials to major cities that showcase the benefits of imposing tolls on existing roads. The federal gas tax money was diverted away from road maintenance and is expected to bankroll the barricades and surveillance infrastructure needed to track and record every automobile entering the city during working hours. Private contractors will earn millions collecting the tolls on behalf of the city and sending citations to motorists whose E-ZPass toll transponder fails to register.
Bloomberg modeled his initial plan on that created by London's socialist mayor, Ken Livingstone. Livingstone's charge, like Bloomberg's, started at a low rate of $8 per day for automobiles and $21 for trucks. Once implemented, however, it quickly soared to $50 per day for politically unfavored family vehicles as Livingstone used "carbon dioxide emissions" as an excuse to charge the maximum rate to certain SUVs, minivans and four-door sedans.
Despite Bloomberg's push, the plan remains unpopular. A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month showed that New York City voters opposed the congestion tax by a 56 to 38 percent margin. Another 54 percent believed it was unlikely that the profit generated would actually be spent on improving bus service.