New York City was ranked the 5th worst congested city in the country last year. Even if you don’t own a car in the Big Apple, congestion affects you in innumerable ways: decreased movement of delivery and service vehicles, reduced emergency response times, increased pollution and pedestrian/cyclist crashes, economic loss from increased commuting times (how often do you arrive to a meeting and someone comes late due to traffic or subway delays?), and heavy wear and tear on our roads and bridges.
This summer, Mayor de Blasio and the City Council attempted to address the ill effects of congestion by capping the number of For Hire Vehicles (Uber, Lyft, etc). A public battle ensued between elected officials and Uber, resulting in four-month study of congestion before any definitive actions are taken.
It’s no secret that the Move NY coalition has been promoting a master transportation plan that would not only create a sustainable revenue stream for our transit system and roads and bridges but also greatly reduce congestion, particularly in Manhattan’s Central Business District (south of Central Park) and the residential neighborhoods on either side of the four un-tolled East River bridges. With“Gridlock” Sam Schwartz‘s proposed toll swap, the incentives to drive through neighborhoods in pursuit of cheaper travel routes will be removed from the equation. The Move NY Fair Plan charges more where there’s more traffic and better transit options, and lowers tolls on all other MTA bridges. Tolls will be reduced by up to 48% on all MTA bridges, and tolls will be instated when crossing into and out of Manhattan’s Central Business District, whether on a bridge or at 60th Street, and be tolled at the same rate as the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. This toll swap will increase travel within the Central Business District by up to 20% and allow for 2-3 more deliveries or service calls per day, per vehicle south of Central Park.
While the Move NY Fair Plan has received endorsements from over three dozen City and State elected officials (most recently NYC Council’s Progressive Caucus), seven editorial boards and over 65 stakeholder groups representing the region’s leading business groups, trade unions, clergy, civic leaders, transportation and environmental advocates, and good-governance organizations, it has yet to be enacted in Albany.
Whether you are a supporter of Move NY, you oppose the plan, or would like to share your NYC gridlock experiences, your voice is needed to weigh in on how to reduce congestion.
Hosted by CeRI, Cornell researchers have created a public participation site dedicated specifically to congestion in New York City. SmartParticipation is a program that has been used at the federal level to encourage public comments on government agency rule changes, and for the first time they are bringing it to the local level. Cornell’s CeRI team members take no position on the issues being discussed: their primary goal is to breakdown issues into jargon-free information blocks and encourage the public to provide thoughtful commentary in order to help inform policy makers. As they note in their press release:
“On nyc.smartparticipation.com, people can learn about what the experts are thinking and proposing. They can contribute their own knowledge and experience in evaluating these proposals. And they can discuss concerns, questions, and ideas with others. After the discussion is over, what participants said will be compiled into a report that will be transmitted to city, borough, and state officials, as well as to advisory groups who provide input into transportation policy. The actual discussion will remain available online.”
Let the discussion begin!