New York City may finally be getting the deal for which it’s been pleading for years
Streetsblog reports that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority may be getting at least part of the deal described by the Ravitch Commission I discussed last December. The plan would implement tolls for cars “at the price of a single ride MetroCard” (currently $2) on the currently free East and Harlem River bridges, including the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg spans. Trucks are likely to be charged a lot more.
This agreement represents the end of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s manic attempts beginning two years ago to prevent the implementation of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion charge plan, which would have enforced a fee for cars entering, leaving, or moving about the lower half of Manhattan. This plan will transfer ownership of the bridges from the New York City Department of the Transportation to the MTA, which already controls several of the city’s tunnels and bridges the George Washington Bridge. It will (at least partially) rescue the MTA, which is facing a huge $1.2 billion budget deficit in the next fiscal year. The charges on the bridges will bring in something in the realm of $400 million a year.
The deal is also likely to significantly reduce truck traffic in Lower Manhattan and increase ridership on the subways. Though I’m a bit perplexed that people riding mass transit should have to pay the same amount to get across a bridge as people driving in cars, it’s better than nothing. That said, the MTA still needs more money to get through this fiscal crisis.
The New York State Assembly, which has been notoriously anti-toll in the past, will have to approve this plan before it can take effect…
Palo Alto finding ways to push California High-Speed Rail to the sidelines
Meanwhile, across the continent, California High-Speed Rail Blog reports that Palo Alto’s city council has sent a letter to the state’s high-speed rail authority, asking it to consider tunneling the fast trains under the city or rerouting them through the East Bay, rather than up the west side of the peninsula. As Robert argues, Palo Alto needs to accept the limited negative effects of new high-speed rail service in return for the great benefits that will be accrued from fast trains heading to Los Angeles and San Diego.
We’re going to be facing a lot of opposition like this as high-speed rail projects are pushed around the country.
Forgive me for my limited posting today; it’s been a hectic one.