Congestion Pricing "Dead" in NY Assembly

Update 6/22: It's official, no congestion pricing agreement was reached before the end of the Spring legislative session and none of the state legislation needed to enable & fund much of Bloomberg's sustainability plan was enacted because of disagreements between Albany's power brokers.

Update 6/21: I'm getting numerous reports in the local news that Congestion Pricing is alive for today pending a compromise bill being debated today.

It seems for now that Congestion Pricing is dead (for now) in the NY State Assembly despite the support of: Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Spitzer, NY State Senate Leader Joseph Bruno, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller Bill Thompson

Major NYC Newspapers:
NY Times, NY Daily News, NY Post, Newsday, Staten Island Advance

And many community organizations, civic associations, business groups and environmental organizations

Sustainability and transportation advocates are now gearing up for a long hot Summer here in NYC to push for congestion pricing. Sheldon Silver will have to be dragged back for a special session. Line up the School buses, we're going to Albany in late July.

Congestion pricing is also dead on the Westpark Tollway, Harris County (Houston) TX.

So people are just going to sit on the tollway and be congested together, I suppose.

Whatever they prefer. Vox populi.

Peter Wang, PG
Texas Registered Professional Geophysicist

Hello Glenn,

I am sorry to read that it is finally dead for this legislative session. Car dealers, road repair companies, big oil, etc, probably had more money for effective lobbying than bicycle shops and a small % of concerned citizens. Too bad, I was hoping that NY could be an early-adopter; a urban model for the rest of the country.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


"If you want Change, keep it in your pocket. You vote for a faux president every four years, but you vote for real corporations thousands of times each month. Your money is your only real vote."

I will admit that I was ambivalent on this one. It seemed so "New York".
And of course my personal experience caused me to associate with the old "pedestrian mall" concept that was such a rage in the 1970's, and most of which were glaring failures. I think of the 4th street mall in Louisville KY, in which the 4th street corridor was blocked off at each end to block access by automobiles. A covered glass shopping mall was built over the street and the downtown convention center was attached to the whole mess. The idea was to reduce congestion.

It did. The stores in the mall could never get traction, given that all of thier customers had to either walk, bike or take a bus to them. Instead, the stores moved out to the East End suburbs where they could survive. The idea of driving to work from out in the suburbs or out of town, then having to walk to go shopping with your car sitting downtown never appealed to the public, especially in driving rain or winter ice.

The convention center was a nightmare, and never gained conventions, as they went to the fair and exposition center out beside the made sense really, rather than take a bus to the convention center, instead to take a much shorter shuttle to the fairgrounds.

A few years ago, the whole thing was finally abandoned as the utopian catastrophe it had been, and 4th street was reopened to traffic. I am sure many folks in New York were familiar with these type of foul ups in cities they had lived in, and rightly or wrongly, made the same associations by memory that I did. The whole proposal did it's job however, in that it earned Mayor Bloomberg his "green" stripes, as he prepared to abandon his party affiliation and go independent, and now aim for bigger things.

It always astounds me the pure staying power of the automobile. If any city was ever misbegotten to be a "car town" New York would have to be it, where the effort involved to even attempt to own and operate a car has to be almost titanic, and where alternatives are at least somewhat available. And yet the car survives and even thrives.

Does that give you an idea of the police state type methods that will be required to force people away from thier cars in the rest of the country?

(edited for grammer and spelling)
Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Over here, in the UK, we have had London's "Congestion Charging" for some time. A huge proportion of the revenue skimmed off the drivers is swallowed up by the actual system itself!

We have an amazing propensity to investing in crap and hugely expensive systems (e.g. Passport Office, NHS Patient Record, Nimrod, Scottish Parliament etc.)

I understand that the authorities here are aiming to have a more widespread road-pricing system sometime in the future - based on expensive gadgets in each car plus more expensive gadgets along the roads.

I have an alternative that may be seen at

Unfortunately, I have little time, or incentive, to promote this much simpler alternative approach. However, I just thought that you might be interested.

The cost of running the London scheme in 2006 was £123 million out of a revenue of £245 million. This is 50% of the revenue leaving £122M to be invested in buses. It has reduced the number of vehicles by 70,000 per day (about 26%). 50-60% of this is due to transfers to public transport and only 20-30% due to skirting around the zone. The remainder to car-sharing, reduced number of journeys, more traveling outside the hours of operation, and increased use of motorbikes and cycles.

Paradoxically the greater the success of the scheme in reducing traffic levels the lower will be its income.

There are always those that complain about taxes but Ken Livingstone the Mayor of London that introduced the scheme was easily re-elected with his majority almost untouched 16 months after its introduction even with the proposal at the time of the election to extend the area of it. It is generally popular and I for one find the centre of London more pleasant to be in.

Initially there were reports of a drop in trade and plans to relocate outside the zone as had been predicted by opponents before its introduction but as time went by these declined and the Fourth Annual Review by Transport for London in 2004 indicated that business activity within the charge zone had been higher in both productivity and profitability and that the charge had a "broadly neutral impact" on the London wide economy.

Pollution levels inside the zone have fallen by 18.6%, 22.4% & 17.3% for nitrogen oxides, particulates and carbon dioxide respectively compared with 12.5% 17.5% and 16.2% outside the zone.

There are now plans to introduce charges scaled according to the pollution level up to £25 per day for the worst polluters down to zero for electric vehicles.

In addition in 2008 over a much wider area of London a low emissions zone will be introduced that will ban trucks and public transport vehicles that do not meet strict European pollution standards with fines of up to £1000 per violation.

Although there has been the predicable protests by some, there have been some traders like The Knightsbridge Association have backed the scheme and even called for it to be more stringent.

Yes the London scheme was 'overly successful'.

It's an axiom of highway building (I'm quoting, indirectly, the Texas department of transport here-- not yuppie leftish town planners) that traffic is generative. If you build a new highway, you get no net loss in congestion.

You do get more journeys, so in that sense the world is better off. More utility. But you don't, long run, improve average traffic speed. Demand rises to fill roadspace.

Turn it around. If you close a road, roughly 40% of the traffic just disappears-- it doesn't reroute. This too is widely known by traffic engineers and planners-- it's a commonly used rule of thumb.

I would bet that 40% of the journeys that were made into or through Central London (ie 40% of the 16% drop in traffic) just disappeared. They aren't being made any more.

John Lewis Partners in particular said their trade was down by about 8% (that's the leading central London department store). But who were these people, who take *the car* and drive to Oxford Street (which itself is closed to private cars) between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday? (John Lewis opens at 9.30, closes at 6.30 except on Thursdays). And of course they were paying £12 to park for 2 hours, so the congestion charge was smaller than that (£8).

As with any good that is 'free', when we drive on a road with no marginal cost of doing so, we will overconsume it-- ie we will congest the roads more than we should. Petrol tax doesn't tax us for when we use the roads, just for driving-- it's too crude a usage tax.

Because we are not penalised, except by time cost, for jamming up the roads, we do it at our convenience.

Have there been significant savings in road maintenance resulting from the congestion program?