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KOMANOFF: How to Counter the Latest Congestion Pricing Objections | Streetsblog New York City

It’s tempting to dismiss Mayor de Blasio’s offering tepid support for congestion pricing so long as there are toll exemptions for the poor and elderly as the sputterings of a rank hypocrite. After all, this is the same mayor who has botched the rollout of Fair Fares and who looks away as thugs in NYPD uniforms attack hard-pressed immigrant delivery-bicyclists.

We could also point to the 2017 report from the Community Service Society that delivered the indelible finding that for each member of the working poor who will face a congestion toll daily, 38 poor people will benefit from better transit paid for by the congestion tolls. Case closed, one could say.

But neither of those arguments would quite respond to Sen. Diane Savino, whose 23rd District “transit-starved residents lack the luxury of a one-seat ride via public transportation,” as she pointed out during the mayor’s appearance yesterday in Albany.

Savino’s constituents and those in other underserved parts of all five boroughs deserve more than glib answers on congestion pricing’s incidence. After all, those billion or more a year in toll revenues that have us transit advocates salivating must come from somewhere. And most of it won’t come from millionaires living in Connecticut. New York City residents will pony up around two-thirds (the precise share varies depending on toll levels and whether the figures count surcharges on taxis and Ubers).

Nor is it sufficient to point out that for most daily commuters, the tolls will be dwarfed by the costs of car ownership and use including parking. A lot of habitual drivers into Manhattan’s Central Business District have their parking, uh, carded. And don’t overlook status quo bias, which leads us humans to calibrate equity in terms of deviation from current conditions rather than overall fairness. Citing pricey parking or $200 theatre tickets only makes prospective congestion toll-payers feel more targeted.

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KOMANOFF: How to Counter the Latest Congestion Pricing Objections – Streetsblog New York City.

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