State Assemblymember Jim Brennan (D – Brooklyn) has introduced a congestion pricing bill. The new proposal takes a variety of ideas that have been advanced and blends them together to create a better plan, while dropping or changing several proposals advanced by the Traffic Mitigation Commission.
Key to this proposal involves authorizing congestion pricing as a three-year experiment, similar to the concept advanced by Mayor Bloomberg last summer. Authorizing the congestion pricing program as an experiment would assure that the MTA does not go into debt by selling bonds with congestion pricing revenue pledged toward the new debt, only to find that the program is unsuccessful in deterring traffic congestion. The congestion pricing revenue, estimated at $500 million per year, would still be directed to the MTA capital program.
The new bill retains two concepts advanced in the original Mayoral proposal from 2007. First, it would retain the $4 charge for auto trips originating within the zone. Short trips would be exempt. The proposal also only charges drivers crossing bridges and tunnels into Manhattan if they enter the zone. Under the Traffic Mitigation proposal just supported by the City Council, drivers who cross bridges and tunnels in to Manhattan but bypass the zone are still charged $8.
Another aspect of the Brennan bill would require full City Council approval of residential permit parking plans. This would assure that individual neighborhoods would not be able to create exclusive zones without the consent of all of the City government’s elected representatives. New aspects of the Council-supported program, such as a Port Authority contribution, a low-income tax credit, and prevailing wage, are included in the proposal, as well as a new compliance requirement for the MTA for the State’s MWBE program.