Dear Ms. Vanterpool,
It is no surprise that you, a member of the MTA’s board took to selling Move NY’s flawed congestion pricing scheme in the pages of the NY Daily News (Mayor, Get Behind Progressive Congestion Pricing). It’s more pork for your agency but is a bad deal for NYC. The plan calls for the City to mortgage access to midtown to secure billions of dollars in yet more borrowing by the MTA so it can spend the money on pet projects. Since it squandered billions on grand Manhattan projects like the Second Avenue Subway, the Fulton Center or the Hudson Yards #7 extension that don’t benefit the outer boroughs, all while cutting subway maintenance and necessary upgrades, this does not seem like a good use for City-owned assets. Might we assume that such debt will continue to fund Manhattan centric Taj Mahal’s? The column is filled with false and misleading information. Drivers get a free ride? Truckers pay tolls, registration fees, fuel taxes, highway use taxes, City Commercial Vehicle taxes, and parking tickets. Tolls will stop congestion? Where will that traffic go? Long Island City or Williamsburg, where the real estate industry argued that they could build more affordable housing if they didn’t have to build so many off street parking spaces? The tolls would not be regressive? To the contrary, they’re designed to keep out those who can’t afford passage since there is no plan to provide real transportation alternatives to outer borough residents. The tolls are fair? The scheme makes outer borough residents and business pay while car owners in the congestion zone won’t pay unless they move their vehicles. Oh, and NJ tunnel users get a free pass.
Let’s get real here. The number of vehicles entering midtown Manhattan is down by about 45,000 each weekday over the last 5 years, says the City DOT. The true cause of congestion is construction of ever larger buildings and the removal of traffic and parking lanes. Yet developers and big businesses get billions in tax breaks to build or move into the area, while making the area more congested.
So, don’t just tell us we need the tolls, Ms. Vanterpool. Tell us in no uncertain way what your agency would do with the money if the tolls were imposed. Tell us how congestion will be eased. Tell us how the region’s transportation – including roads and highway infrastructure – will be improved in ways that are fair for all. Then come ask us for money.
Arthur Miller & Zach Miller
Arthur Miller, a Queens-based attorney who represents the transportation industry is also co-publisher with Zach Miller of newyorktruckstop.com, an on-line community for the region’s truck and bus industry.