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Ramblings about congestion pricing

It's not entirely won yet. I'm not trying to sound hard-hearted, but nearly every time I bring up congestion pricing with someone who is opposed to it, they talk about the "tremendous burden" it is going to give all the "poor" people who HAVE to drive. OK, then, let's talk (briefly) about this.

Source: Mayor's congestion pricing proposal; has anyone done a check on it?

Well, in fact, only a small fraction of people drive to the CBD to work from each borough. This small fraction is also much less than the percentage of low- and middle-income families in each borough. Is this small fraction mostly made up of low- and middle-income families? I'm not sure; it would be good to find out.

This is not taking into account people driving in from New Jersey or from New York State and Connecticut, of which there are also low- and middle-income families who can no longer live (or would rather not live due to cultural/societal/economic preferences) in New York City proper. Talk of using the congestion pricing funds to beef up the transit capacity, such as that of NJ Transit rail and bus rapid transit then devolves into a discussion about the general corruption of local government. Oh boy. There are some who just don't trust government. But without trusting the public sector (as much as is reasonable, given the latest hijinks), then who can you believe in to do this stuff? The private sector? Though the private sector can be a great ally, no thank you; don't forget, you have no say over who works in the private sector. (See somewhat related post about Jane Jacobs a couple days ago). This sounds more sarcastic than it's intended, though I do feel that people often forget that the "free market" has no responsibility for "poor" people at all.

Anyway, to get away from the useless circle talk of "government-is-out-to-get-poor-and-we can't-trust-our-government-anyway" I leave you with this poster made by the Town of Muenster, Germany, to drive the point of different modes of commuting home.

Car: Based on an average occupancy of 1.2 people per car, 60 cars are needed to transport 72 people, which takes 1,000 square meters (3281 SF).
Bus: 72 people can be transported on 1 bus, which only requires 30 square meters (90 SF) of space and no permanent parking space, since it can be parked elsewhere.
Bicycle: 72 people are transported on 72 bikes, which requires 90 square meters (295 SF).

P.S. Don't forget to call your State reps to encourage them to support congestion pricing before next Monday. You can find out who your State rep is here:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


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