After the Sun mentioned the Mayor's upcoming Earth Day PlaNYC speech may include mention of a congestion tax, even more details about what the speech will include have come out. The NY Times says the Mayor is "expected to advocate more than 100 proposals," from cleaning up polluted sites to making buildings more energy efficient.
The most controversial part of the plan is the congestion pricing idea. The NY Times says Bloomberg administration staffers call it the "program that shall not be named" because it's so "politically toxic." The Daily News gives a glimpse at how the plan might work:
- Charging $8 for motorists entering an area either below 86th St. or 96th St. from as early as 6 a.m. to as late as 6 p.m.
- The $8 charge would include any bridge or tunnel tolls paid to enter the borough.
- Creating an exemption for motorists who don't enter the central business district. For example, a motorist who enters Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel and takes the FDR up to Harlem would not be charged.
- Creating exemptions for taxi and livery drivers, and possible discounts for people who live and work in the zone.
- Setting up an authority responsible for administering the plan.
Mayor Bloomberg is expected to say that the city needs $30 billion for transportation-related expenses, and congestion tax would bring in $500 million annually. From the pro-congestion pricing corner: Transportation Alternatives' Paul Steely White says, "With fewer cars on our streets we can reprogram that street space for more bus corridors, wider sidewalks, bike lanes and streets of the 21st century that will be cleaner, greener and more efficient." And the anti-congestion pricing corner: "A congestion-pricing scheme for New York City is nothing more than a regressive tax for working people," says Walter McCaffrey of Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free Coalition. There is worry that the mayor not support the idea - it's one that's been more publicly kicked around since November 2005 (the Empire Zone looks at the idea's history in the city since 1987).
The Mayor will be giving his speech at the American Museum of Natural History, and here's the PlaNYC website. One of the mayor's proposals that we find interesting is the creation of an authority that would, according to the NY Times, "raise money and identify strategic infrastructure investment," because right now, the state controls many of the big projects.
Photograph of elephants entering the Midtown Tunnel (on the Queens side) by drewbic on Flickr - it's unclear if the elephants had E-Z Pass