By David Klepper and Frank Eltman | Associated Press
NEW YORK – A proposal to charge motorists almost $ 12 for the busiest parts of Manhattan led to protests and complaints even before its launch on Friday, although there are indications that the idea of congestion pricing is gaining momentum quietly in the nation. largest city.
London, Stockholm and Singapore already have congestion surcharges. But calls to impose similar tolls in New York as a way to tackle the traffic jam by raising funds for public transportation have been rejected in the past because of concerns about the cost to middle-class and poor travelers.
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On Friday, even some previous critics of congestion pricing said the ideas are promising to address the stalemate and raise funds for the besieged metro system of the city.
Although I have been a critic of the prices of congestion in the past and remain skeptical, the plan published today … offers a wide variety of innovative suggestions, "said Bronx Democrat Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
The recommendation announced on Friday was prepared by a task force set up by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo to examine congestion pricing, and motorists would spend $ 11.52 to drive to the busiest parts of Manhattan. the trucks would pay $ 25.34 and the Uber and rental vehicles could charge between $ 2 and $ 5 per trip.The price zone would cover Manhattan south of 60th Street.
The system would use the electronic toll, which charges drivers through the E-ZPass transponder in their vehicles or by invoices sent to the owners of the vehicles.
It is likely that the surcharges proposed cam well as state legislators Cuomo and city leaders discuss the details. Officials may also vary the surcharges depending on the time of day, with the highest rates during rush hour. Cuomo has also discussed a toll credit to reduce the cost of travelers who would already pay an existing bridge toll to enter Manhattan.
Yasmin Sohrawardy, who drives from Queens to Manhattan twice a week for his work as a financial software developer, opposes any proposal to charge drivers.
"People in the outer districts, who do not have access to public transportation like the people in Manhattan do, can not afford this," Sohrawardy said. "It's going to be extraordinarily expensive." If you live in Manhattan, you can take subways, buses or taxis. "
Cuomo did not fully endorse the details of the proposal, but said that New York must address traffic and fix a subway system harassed by breakdowns and He noted that as a Queens native he understands the concerns of travelers.
"I have neighborhood blood in my veins, and it is my priority to keep costs down for working New Yorkers and encourage the use of public transportation." he said
Only 4 percent of residents of Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn or Staten Island, about 118,000 people, travel to Manhattan in vehicles, says the task force, of which fewer than 5,000 are considered poor. 19659003] Rates for taxis and rental vehicles may come into effect in one year, followed by trucks and cars in 2020. Rates will not be imposed until after traffic repairs are made. sivo.
The work team calculated the amount of the tariffs based on the existing bridge tolls. He suggested that tax credits could be created for low-income motorists to reduce the cost.
Uber said he supports congestion pricing if it is applied fairly and all revenues are allocated to mass transportation. But the Independent Drivers Guild, which represents 60,000 drivers for Uber, Lyft and other companies that provide assistance, said the surcharges could be "devastating" if drivers are forced to absorb the higher costs instead of passing them on to passengers. .
AAA criticizes the plan also notes that it does not bring new investments in roads, bridges or tunnels.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, a critic in the past about congestion pricing, said the new plan was an improvement over previous versions. But he wants a guarantee that revenues finance public transport, and said a higher income tax on the rich can be a better way to raise money.
Senate Republican leader John Flanagan of Long Island criticized congestion prices earlier this month, and on Friday his spokesman, Scott Reif, said Republican lawmakers distrust any proposal that would make New York City is less affordable.
Congestion pricing has long been a goal of environmental groups and transit advocates. Nick Sifuentes, director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said travelers using the subway, buses, ferries and trains already pay a fee to get to Manhattan.
"The only people who pay nothing are the drivers, and those cars are clogging our streets, polluting our air and damaging the economy," he said.