There are a lot of ideas on the table for how we should fund the fixes to our city’s mass transit system. But there’s one idea that can’t even see the light of day, and that’s thanks to Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who can’t express enough how much he opposes congestion pricing in downtown Manhattan.
The proposal — which has the backing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo — would levy an $11.52 charge on any vehicle entering Manhattan south of 60th Street, the city’s central business district.
The fare, according to Cuomo’s Fix NYC traffic advisory panel, would raise $810 million each year for trains and buses in the city, while at the same time reducing traffic by 13 percent.
But that charge is just too much for people working in that part of Manhattan, Dinowitz said. Paying that fare five times a week could cost upward of $3,000 per year for those who choose to drive into Midtown.
No one wants to pay $3,000 more — but then again, that’s the point. It’s the reason tolls exist on many bridges and other high-traffic areas, to push people from using environment-destroying cars to more Earth-friendly mass transit options, like our subway system.
If $3,000 sounds like a lot, maybe those making the commute into Manhattan each day could instead invest in a MetroCard. It costs $121 every month, which is half the cost of the congestion fare each year.
And take away car payments, insurance, maintenance, parking fees and $2.50 per gallon gasoline, and that family making $50,000 per year Dinowitz is so worried about will actually end up with far more money in their pocket.
Manhattan is difficult to drive to, and nearly impossible to park in. While it might be tough to get around the Bronx, it’s a much different story in the borough to our south that gets all the attention — and we should be taking advantage of these mass transit options, not grasping for every way we can to stay in our cars.
Congestion pricing was a great idea when Mayor Bloomberg proposed it, and it’s still a great idea today. Let’s keep our cars parked in the Bronx, and save money, and the environment.