NY13 Blog; Retaking NY-13 from Rep. Vito Fossella

Following the corruption, ineffectiveness and hypocrisy of Rep. Vito Fossella.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Harrison on congestion pricing

via Harrison press release;

Staten Island and Brooklyn residents protest Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan

Democratic Congressional candidate Steve Harrison leads group of Staten Island & Brooklyn protesters at press conference

(Staten Island) Democratic Congressional Candidate Steve Harrison (NY 13th CD, Staten Island and Southwest Brooklyn) will lead a group of Staten Island and Brooklyn residents protesting Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan at a 2 pm April 3 press conference inside the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

Harrison, who is running against Vito Fossella, New York City’s only House Republican, does not oppose congestion reduction in theory, just Bloomberg’s plan.

According to Harrison using the congestion pricing stick to force working and middle class drivers into already overcrowded trains, buses and ferries, while the limo taking CEOs targeted by the plan will continue to drive in because they can easily absorb the fees, is unfair. He prefers a carrot approach of improving service first to get people off the roads. “The Mayor’s plan puts the cart before the horse,” says Harrison.

The plan is billed as a green initiative with the contradictory goals of reducing pollution and improving public transportation. “These goals will allegedly be accomplished by charging a fee to drive in lower Manhattan. The theory is that the fee will force many drivers off the road and, at the same time, the collected fees will be used to finance public transit improvements,“ says Harrison.

Harrison continues, “The contradiction here is glaring. The green objectives of the plan and the revenue raising objectives work at cross purposes. Every commuter forced off the road is one less driver to pay the fee. If the fee is set high enough to drive cars off the road and commuters into trains and buses, revenues will go down because there will be fewer drivers to pay the fee. There will be insufficient funds to pay for transit improvements. On the other hand, if fees are set so low that revenues are maximized, traffic and emissions will continue unabated and the green objectives will fail.”

“There is simply no incentive to set the congestion pricing fee at a level that would significantly reduce traffic and emissions. On the contrary, fees must actually be set to encourage a certain minimum level of traffic in the congestion pricing zone to sustain the cash flow.”

The Bloomberg plan’s exemption from filing an environmental impact statement causes Harrison to question congestion proposal’s “greenness”. “Exempting this plan from an Environmental Impact Statement under SEQRA is unconscionable. If it is truly a green initiative it should go through a green process - SEQRA. The fact that those who support the initiative want it waived is a good indication that they fear the results of such a review. There is no study whatsoever to indicate what will happen to metropolitan area traffic patterns as a result of this major change.”

I would support a congestion reduction plan that accomplishes green objectives. This plan is not that plan.”

As solutions to encourage mass transit use, Harrison advocates creating high speed ferries in Staten Island and Brooklyn and extending the Westshore railway into Jersey. In the interim, he advocates expanding current ferry and bus schedules to encourage people to avoid driving into Manhattan. Harrison will also discuss his proposals to eliminate the Verrazano toll for Congressional District residents on both sides of the bridge and collect from non-district residents with boothless technology similar to what the congestion pricing plan will use.

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