To the editor:
(re: “Dinowitz is still a ‘no’ on congestion pricing,” Feb. 16)
Recently, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz voiced his opposition to congestion pricing — a plan that would toll private vehicles entering Manhattan’s central business district below 60th Street during times of heavy traffic, and dedicate the resulting revenue to transit service improvements.
Dinowitz’s main concern is that, under congestion pricing, a few drivers are expected to shoulder the burden of bringing new funding to mass transit. Dinowitz points to a study that found the median income of Riverdale car owners is $51,000 (compared to $36,000 for transit users), and people earning that amount cannot afford to pay another charge for driving into Manhattan.
However, Dinowitz does not distinguish between car owners who commute into the district and those who commute elsewhere into the city. Only 5.1 percent of commuters in Dinowitz’s district would face a congestion charge compared to 68 percent of commuters who would benefit from better transit.
We can also assume that people who drive into the district on a daily basis make more than $51,000, given the concentration of high-paying jobs, and that they already withstand the high cost of parking private vehicles in Manhattan. The wealthiest slice of commuters — using the most inefficient, traffic-inducing and air-polluting mode of transport — is precisely the group who should help fix our broken mass transit system.
Congestion pricing not only would help fund improvement to mass transit, it also addresses our other transportation crisis: traffic. New York drivers spend 91 hours in traffic each year, making us the third-most congested city in the world behind Moscow and Los Angeles. In dollar amounts, traffic will cost the city $100 billion by 2023.
In real costs, gridlock means more asthma in children, pedestrian deaths, and ambulances that cannot reach the hospital in time.
Congestion pricing would reduce traffic in Manhattan by 13 percent. Although we live in the Bronx, we have a responsibility to act on what is best for the city as a whole.
Congestion pricing is the progressive answer to solving our transportation woes. It is critical that we in the Bronx proclaim support and urge Assemblyman Dinowitz to do the same.