escapefromny.jpgThe New York Times notes an interesting and under-stressed part of Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan that would charge drivers $8 for entering a certain zone in midtown and lower Manhattan: the plan is also going to charge drivers $8 to leave midtown and downtown Manhattan. The Times seems to think that charging drivers to exit a proposed congestion zone is counterintuitive, prompting Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff to admit that congestion pricing has less to do with reducing congestion, than just getting people not to drive in Manhattan at all.

Thus far, support for congestion pricing has been highest in Manhattan, with outer borough residents expressing less enthusiasm for the plan that would charge them entrance to another borough in their own city. Manhattan likely has a lower ratio of car owners than other boroughs, but congestion pricing plan proponents have been downplaying the feature that will exact a toll to leave the island, or simply travel north of 86th St.

Yesterday, Manhattanites expressed support for the traffic reduction plan. But when told they might have to pay $8 to drive out of the zone, they changed their tone.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” said Jose Hernandez, 60, a parking lot attendant who lives on West 57th Street. “I’ve got family uptown, and my son lives in the Bronx.”

Mr. Hernandez, who was buying gas at a Hess station on 10th Avenue near 45th Street, supported charging people who drive into Manhattan. But he was unhappy with the idea of an $8 fee to drive out.

“If I have to pay $8, I’ll use the train,” he said.

That seems to be what the congestion plan is attempting to promote. The State Legislature is not that fond of Bloomberg's traffic tax. And New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine wasn't ready to meet the plan with open arms either, saying that his state's mass transit system was not prepared to accept a massive increase in ridership.

(Kurt Russell as Snake Pliskin, in Escape From New York)