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Event Transcript
December 7, 2006


Road Pricing Worked in London. Can It Work in New York? What New Yorkers Think

The following is a transcript from an event the Manhattan Institute organized on December 7, 2006 titled "Road Pricing Worked in London. Can It Work in New York?"

Kathryn Wylde is president & CEO of the Partnership for New York City, the city's preeminent business leadership organization. She joined the Partnership in 1982 and has served as founding president & CEO of its major two affiliates: the New York City Investment Fund and the Housing Partnership Development Corporation. An internationally known expert in housing, economic development and urban affairs, Wylde serves on a number of boards and advisory groups, including the Port Authority of NY/NJ Security Task Force, the Mayor's Sustainability Advisory Board, the NYS Commission on Public Authority Reform, the Special Commission on the Future of NYS Courts, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the NYC Leadership Academy, the Manhattan Institute and the Biomedical Research Alliance of New York. She chairs the board of Lutheran Medical Center, a community hospital in her home borough of Brooklyn.

Bruce Schaller is a nationally recognized expert in transportation policy, his New York City work includes reports on: why people drive into Manhattan; East River bridge tolls; bus rapid transit; suburban commuter access to Lower Manhattan; transit fare policy; taxicab regulation, transportation operations for special events; and transportation financing. His consulting clients have included the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the City of New York, the Federal Transportation Research Board, the Regional Plan Association, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, and Transportation Alternatives. He has a Masters in public policy from the University of California at Berkeley. At the time of the report and panel discussion, Bruce Schaller was principal of Schaller Consulting. As of June 2007, Schaller became deputy commissioner for planning and sustainability at the New York City Department of Transportation. Among other tasks, he is responsible for implementing any congestion pricing program developed by New York City.

Samuel I. Schwartz is president and CEO of Sam Schwartz LLC, a firm specializing in traffic and transportation engineering. He writes the Daily News' "Gridlock Sam" column and the "Gridlock Shmuel" column for the Yiddish News Report. Mr. Schwartz got his start studying New York City traffic forty years ago when he worked as a taxi driver while getting a degree in physics from Brooklyn College. He worked for over two decades at the New York City Department of Transportation, serving as traffic commissioner, chief engineer and first deputy commissioner. During the transit strike of 1980, Schwartz was responsible for moving 8 million people without subways, buses or rail, as well as inventing the word "gridlock." In 1980, following the strike plan's success, he introduced the city's first congestion pricing plan; the city, however, was sued by the Garage Board of Trade and the Automobile Club of New York, and the plan was never implemented. Schwartz currently serves as a visiting scholar at New York University. He has been adjunct professor at Cooper Union, Long Island University, and Brooklyn College and founded a public school: The School for the Physical City. Schwartz has a Masters in Civil Engineering & Transportation Systems from the University of Pennsylvania and is a professional engineer licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. His many awards include Bridge Engineer of the Year, Transportation Engineer of the Year, and the Sage Award from the American Engineering Alliance.

David Weprin was elected to the New York City Council in 2001 and serves as the Council's finance chair. As finance chair, Weprin has overseen a city budget that has grown to $55.6 billion for the 2007 fiscal year. Prior to his election to the Council, Weprin held a variety of leadership positions at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Kidder Peabody, Paine Weber, Inc., and Advest, Inc. He was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Securities Industry Association, New York District. Weprin also serves as Democratic district leader and executive board member of the Saul Weprin Democratic Club and serves or has served as an officer or board member for a wide variety of community organizations.

Hope Cohen has been deputy director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Rethinking Development (CRD) since February 2006. Before joining CRD, she worked in a variety of planning, management, and IT positions at MTA/New York City Transit and the New York City Parks & Recreation Department. She has also served for over 11 years on Manhattan Community Board 7, including two years as Board Chairperson.

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HOPE COHEN: I am deputy director of the Center for Rethinking Development (CRD) at the Manhattan Institute. At CRD, we work to foster a new understanding of the importance of good development to the city's well-being. Traditionally, that has meant focusing on issues of zoning, planning, and housing.

But more recently, we have begun to focus on the infrastructure needed to make New York work. We're sponsoring this program today because we believe that good transportation is vital for the city to function and grow; and, frankly, our transportation system is strained almost to the breaking point in many places and clearly will not be able to handle the additional million people anticipated to be here in the next generation.

So we have to start figuring out how to make our transportation system work better and be more efficient. That includes discouraging unnecessary and inefficient car trips-especially, but not only, in Manhattan. New York's clogged streets increase the difficulty and cost of building. And the noise, stress, and pollution make New York less attractive than it can be in competing for businesses and residents.

Road pricing solutions have been around for about 50 years, and they are embraced by transportation and environmental elites; but traditionally, New Yorkers have never accepted these ideas. We at the Manhattan Institute wondered, however, if those anti-road pricing attitudes are changing. As the city continues to grow and traffic gets worse and worse, and as other cities such as London begin to implement pricing programs and electronic toll collection devices like E-ZPass become commonplace, we wondered if perhaps New Yorkers' attitudes about road pricing were evolving.

The Manhattan Institute hired transportation expert Bruce Schaller to find out the answers to this question. He conducted several focus groups for the Institute, and in a few minutes he will be sharing the findings of his new report "Battling Traffic: What New Yorkers Think About Road Pricing."

First, however, we are going to hear from Kathryn Wylde about the congestion pricing study just released by the Partnership for New York City; then Bruce Schaller will discuss his research and findings; then we'll hear from Sam Schwartz, who first proposed a congestion pricing plan for New York back in 1980; finally, council member David Weprin, who speaks so eloquently for the people of eastern Queens, will weigh in on the pros and cons of congestion pricing.

KATHRYN WYLDE: The Partnership for New York City is a business leadership organization. We got involved in the issue of congestion and congestion pricing as a result of the experience of our international companies in London and other cities around the world that saw dramatic improvements in their traffic congestion when they introduced, as they say in London, "road-charging schemes."

The Partnership felt that we had to look at the potential economic impact of congestion pricing, but then we said, "Wait a minute. The first thing we have to do is understand what the impact of traffic congestion is on our economy."

We found that there was no evidence or information, no strategy or methodology for analyzing the economic impact of congestion. So we found David Lewis, who is a transportation economist who runs a firm out of Ottawa called Decision Economics, as part of a company called HDR.

We recruited them, and we've worked for the past year with the economists to develop a new approach that is different from what has been done in the past by traffic and transportation experts: we take a look at the cost to and the impact on the overall economy, at both a macro level and within individual industry sectors.

The complete Partnership report is available on our website, but today I will highlight its conclusions. The bottom line is that, from a standpoint of out-of-pocket costs, lost revenues in the entire 28-county, tristate metro New York region due to traffic congestion total well over $13 billion a year. And, in the foreseeable future, we're looking at economic contraction of another $3-4 billion a year and up to 52,000 lost jobs a year. So the bottom line got our attention.

It became clear that in looking at congestion and its remedies, one had to look also at other transit options and ensure that we had those in place before we started any congestion pricing plan. So that also became a major part of the study.

This is a regional problem. During peak periods, traffic travels at under 12 miles per hour across the region, and I think this is something that we haven't been conscious of. Then there is the number of hours that people spend delayed in traffic across the region. Long Island, which is far more dependent on cars than the rest of the region is, suffers most, with Queens close behind: 20 percent of the traffic congestion delay is in Queens.

The other thing that David Lewis and his team of economists did for us was come up with a definition and a way to calculate the tipping point. We all want a busy city. We want people coming into Manhattan. We want traffic and activity. There is a point at which, however, traffic goes negative on us and starts destroying our economy, discouraging people from coming in. There is a point where the costs, the inefficiencies, and the logistics make it a bad place to do business. And the calculation that David Lewis made, which is discussed in detail in our report, is that 48 percent of the traffic in New York City is excess traffic, destructive traffic causing inefficiency and losses to our economy. When we do the quantification-the $13 billion number, the 52,000 lost jobs-all we're talking about is that excess congestion. We are not talking about normal traffic that we can all put up with.

This damaging "excess" congestion is pretty evenly distributed across the tristate region. While Manhattan is the source of the problem, the entire metropolitan region suffers. In the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, we're talking about losses of over $2 billion a year from their local economies due to excess congestion.

The source of the problem is Manhattan's central business district (CBD), which is the concentration of economic activity for a 28-county region. Fortunately, we have a great mass transit system; 67 percent of the people in the region take mass transit coming into Manhattan. But of the 3.6 million people who come into Manhattan every day, only 1.8 million are coming to work. A third come by vehicle, plus there are 600,000 people living in the southern half of Manhattan, and virtually every tourist who comes to New York City visits Manhattan south of 60th Street.

This translates into 810,000 vehicles a day, 40 percent single-occupancy vehicles, 19 percent just passing through. Surprisingly-at least we were surprised, and we took a close look at this-trucks account for only 5.4 percent of traffic. Most New Yorkers think that trucks are responsible for our congestion problem. However, by virtue of volume, they certainly are not.

Important issues regarding the accommodation of trucks and freight-loading facilities need to be addressed. Certainly, there's a lot that has to be done there. But our analysis indicates that messing with trucks could really mess up our economy, especially the logistics and the costs associated with just-in-time delivery. We don't have a rail freight system serving this region. We are entirely dependent on trucks; small business, in particular, would be badly damaged if we started regulating truck time. We looked closely at that option, thinking that that might be the low-hanging fruit, but it turned out not to be.

We at the Partnership ask ourselves all the time: What is contributing to the cost of doing business in New York? Higher salaries, in a way, directly relate to the length of commute and the difficulty of commute in terms of attracting talent. Think of the logistical costs, the delay costs, the productivity losses, and the parking tickets. There are a whole series of costs associated with traffic congestion that we've begun now to quantify and understand.

We are a headquarters city, and that means people coming in and out by airplanes, in particular, and having to move from the airports into the center city and out again for us to be able to function. The excessive congestion has affected not just commuters-and New York has the longest commutes in the country-but also work-related travel time, which adds to the costs for employers and is starting to take a toll on the economy.

We wonder why construction costs are going up one percent a month in New York. A major contributor to construction problems and delays is traffic congestion. Congestion also has a negative impact on manufacturing, which is an industry we've been hemorrhaging for the last decade. These are very low-margin sectors where, again, the cost of inventory and the high cost of real estate, of keeping inventory, of shipping and delay are all passed along. All these costs, of course, are passed along to retailers and, ultimately, to consumers.

I should note that our numbers are adjusted for regional displacement. For example, when people want to go to a restaurant, if traffic congestion discourages them from coming to the center city to a restaurant, they go to a restaurant in the region. The economic model we used has adjusted for all that displacement that stays within the 28-county region. So we're really talking about lost business to the region. We're not talking about displaced business within the region. The job losses are concentrated in Manhattan, on a percentage basis, because that's where the huge concentration of jobs is. But every county in the region, including nearby New Jersey, is suffering a significant loss of jobs because of traffic congestion generated by the magnetic pull of Manhattan and the through traffic that's going to and from Manhattan.

We looked at what London is doing. It started in February 2003. It has a system that includes a daily charge for entering the center city and exemptions for bicycles, taxis, and special user groups. The wonderful thing about technology and E-ZPass is that you can do just about anything with these systems. After three years, the results are in and anybody who tells you that London's program is not working is not paying attention. There has been an average 17 percent reduction in total traffic. Trip speed is 19 percent. Trip reliability is also up, which is very important to business and professional services, as it saves time when you don't have to leave a half-hour early to make sure that you get someplace.

Bus ridership in London is up 37 percent-and this aspect may be of special interest to us here in New York. Before it instituted its congestion pricing plan, London bought 300 buses, equipped them with global positioning devices, and set up a system that was able to accommodate additional people. Obviously, capacity is a huge problem in New York, as well. Interestingly, in London only 15 percent of the folks driving into center city changed what they were doing to achieve those dramatic results; 85 percent pay the fee and keep going; 50 percent of those who changed what they were doing shifted to transit.

There are a number of options for New York to reduce vehicle traffic, and we certainly do not think that congestion pricing is the first or only one of them. We have to think very carefully when dealing with freight, but there is much that can be done with incentives for better accommodation and management of freight on-site.

On-street parking offers an opportunity, and there has been some work done in that area-but not enough to accommodate commercial traffic at curbside. More needs to be done. I'm sure that more will be said later on public parking permits, among other things.

Bus rapid transit, which is being tested now, offers promise for moving people more quickly, although, again, buses can only move as fast as general traffic until we have dedicated lanes set up. In many of the most congested parts of the city, this is going to be very hard to achieve without a general improvement in traffic.

Expanded regional ferry network is something we've been in favor of for a long time, and it can be done at a relatively low cost. Finally, introducing road charges and looking at congestion pricing is another option.

If we were to achieve what London has-a 15 percent change in how people go to work, getting people out of cars and coming into the central business district by other means-the impact could be substantial. If we got the London-like results, Manhattan traffic would be reduced by 27 percent; downtown Brooklyn, 29 percent; South Bronx, 7 percent; 125th Street, 18 percent; and Staten Island, 5 percent. As you can see, there would be a ripple effect throughout the region if we were to achieve what London has achieved.

It is clear to us that something has to be done. As Hope mentioned, in the next 25 years the predictions are that New York City will have a million more residents, 750,000 more jobs, and a projected 20 percent increase in the number of vehicles entering Manhattan, which would put the number at more than a million per day. If we don't act now, the problems are only going to get much worse.

So our recommendation: this week in the Federal Register, the Federal Department of Transportation is putting out an offer. It is going to select five cities to enter into urban partnerships, which will give federal funding for further study of congestion relief measures and will also provide those cities that participate with priority for their public transit funding investments, in terms of moving to the top of the list, and provide extra funds for them. We are recommending that New York City apply for this federal money to begin to experiment with various congestion relief measures, including congestion pricing.

BRUCE SCHALLER: I'd like to thank Hope Cohen and the Manhattan Institute for the opportunity to work on this important and timely issue. I'd also like to thank those of you who are here who helped us in the research with your advice.

The first question that comes to mind when you start to think about things like congestion pricing is: Why would you want to think about something like this? As we've seen in the media this week, and I'm sure we'll see in the discussion today, there's strong public resistance to such things as congestion pricing. That resistance is based, in part, on opposition to anything like a fee, or toll, which often comes across as a tax; and we know how people feel about taxes. There's also strong concern about how pricing would affect certain groups, such as low-income people, and people who lack a good transit alternative to the motor vehicle.

There are, however, a number of reasons to look at congestion pricing and other types of fees and charges for the use of streets and highways, which together we're calling road pricing. There's the cost of congestion to the city's economy, as Kathy has detailed in her excellent report. There's also the way that unpredictable travel times, truck and auto exhaust, and sometimes the peril of just crossing the street make New York something less than the kind of city that New Yorkers would like to live in.

Traffic congestion isn't just an economic issue. For the average New Yorker, traffic congestion is also an important quality-of-life issue and one that recent polls show most New Yorkers very much want the city to do something about. Moreover, it's hard to see, as has been mentioned twice already, how we're going to accommodate another million new residents in New York if we don't do something about the traffic.

A final and very important reason to talk about road pricing is that it's effective. It works. Cities such as London, Stockholm, and Singapore have shown reductions of up to 35 percent in the number of vehicles that are subject to a charge for coming into the center city. There are no other options on the table-none that I can think of, or have read or talked about-that would have such an impact on traffic congestion.

Even with these reasons in support of looking at road pricing options, there is obviously strong opposition. A recent public opinion poll by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign showed that in New York City, the public is evenly divided in terms of congestion pricing. So, as the mayor's comments earlier this week reflected, the main barrier to road pricing is its acceptability to the public and the political implications of that. In our research, we set out to face this public opinion issue squarely.

The questions we asked were: What role, if any, should road pricing play in improving transportation in New York City? What type of plan would improve transportation in New York City? What would be a sensible road pricing plan, one that would gain public acceptance and support?

Those were the research questions. This is the first research study to look in-depth at these questions, and so we chose a focus-group methodology to explore them. We did eight different groups with different segments that represent every type of transportation throughout the region, residents from both the city and the suburbs. We also did focus groups with small businesses, restaurants, retail, and companies that make deliveries in Manhattan. We wanted to understand the public's views about road pricing from every possible perspective. We wanted their opinions about how transportation could be improved not just big-picture but from the perspective of the day-to-day transportation difficulties that people face as they move around the city and in the suburban areas.

In each of these three groups-residents, small businesses, and delivery companies-we tested three road pricing concepts: first, a London-style congestion pricing plan that would apply below 60th Street in Manhattan; second, a concept of express lanes with tolls on selected highways throughout the five boroughs. These express lanes would be reserved for high-occupancy vehicles such as cars with three or more people and, obviously, buses. Other cars would also be able to use E-ZPass to pay a toll to use the express lane. The toll would be set high enough to maintain uncongested speeds in the express lane, while the general-purpose lane would presumably remain highly congested. The third concept is increasing the cost of metered on-street parking in commercial areas of the city. The intent of this third idea would be to increase the turnover of vehicles in the parking spots, make it easier to find an open spot, and to encourage motorists to use off-street parking for longer stays.

By talking about this range of forms of road pricing, we were able, in focus groups, to obtain a three-dimensional understanding of what people do and don't like about pricing. So how did our focus groups respond to these concepts? Overall, express lanes with tolls receive the broadest support. Even drivers who use highways outside Manhattan were particularly in favor of this concept, showing that those who would pay the charges will support at least this one form of road pricing.

A major conclusion from the research is that road pricing is not a political nonstarter. Certain forms of road pricing can win public support from people who wouldn't pay, as well as people who would pay, the charge.

Response to congestion pricing was mixed, similar to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign poll results that I referenced earlier. Some people supported the concept, and others were strongly opposed. The reaction, notably, was mixed in each of the segments that we looked at. It was mixed among transit users as well as among auto users. Reaction was mixed within the groups. Reaction was also mixed both at the beginning of the discussions and after our extensive discussion of congestion pricing in each of the focus groups.

A second major conclusion of the study is that London-style congestion pricing is unlikely to win broad support in New York City. The same type of mixed response and the same conclusion apply to the parking-fee concept that was tested in the focus groups.

Given these results, one wonders why a concept like express lanes with tolls attracts broad support, even from those who would pay the tolls, while other pricing concepts that we tested received very mixed results. What are the ingredients that must be present in a successful road pricing program? When looking at the reaction to the three concepts, we identified six factors that underlie or that drive the public response to road pricing.

First, people have to believe that pricing will, in fact, induce fewer people to drive. This may seem obvious, but it's a very important point. For example, many auto users expect that they will continue to drive. They think: "I like the comfort and convenience of my car. It's a hassle to take public transportation from areas like eastern Queens, the outer parts of Brooklyn, and Staten Island, into the Manhattan central business district. If I'm going to continue to drive, so will other people." According to this line of thinking, pricing won't affect congestion, so it just becomes a mandatory fee with no benefit to the driver.

Drivers from eastern Queens, the outer parts of Brooklyn, and Staten Island were particularly adamant in this view, as were the delivery-company owners who make deliveries in Manhattan. They suggested that trucks, commercial vehicles, and taxis are the predominant vehicles in midtown during the day. They need to be there. So, in their minds, pricing would not have much impact on reducing congestion.

Second, pricing needs to lead to improvements in people's day-to-day experience of the transportation system. For example, subway commuters may be, at best, lukewarm toward pricing, unless it addresses the problems that they personally experience, such as subway crowding, which pricing conceivably could even worsen, causing delays on subways and buses.

Third is the concept of improving transportation choices-not just the mode that I'm using now but the choice that I have to select from. We saw the drivers support the express-lane concept, because it gives them a new choice. When they're in a hurry, they can choose to pay a toll to have an uncongested, faster trip. At other times, if they are not in a rush and don't want to pay the toll, they can do the same thing that they do now, by staying in general-purpose, more congested lanes.

A fourth consideration is the impact on other New Yorkers. People don't just think of the impact of pricing on themselves personally. Interestingly, focus-group respondents, particularly transit users, thought about other types of people who would be affected by a charge. They thought about the working person, parents dropping off kids at school, the elderly going to medical appointments in the Manhattan central business district, and, of course, commuters who lack viable transit options. The impact of pricing on these groups may lead transit users, as well as auto users, to oppose pricing.

Fifth, it's also important that the program is enforced and that revenues be used for the purposes that they're intended: public transportation and road improvements. People cited such cases as OTB and the lottery, where revenues raised were promised for one thing but, in their perception, were actually used for something else.

Finally-and Kathy emphasized this-the non-pricing steps should encourage the use of public transportation and address the many varied causes of traffic congestion. Pricing does not solve all problems, by any means. So you have the impact of deliveries in commercial areas and the impact of taxis picking up and dropping off at places other than along the curb. You have so many people crossing the street, blocking movements of cars trying to make a turn. There are many causes of congestion. People in the focus groups were very sophisticated about all the things that contribute to congestion and the need for a comprehensive set of programs. No one program will do the trick.

So what would be a sensible and effective plan that meets the public's needs and that answers these questions? Our conclusions come in two parts: first, a specific plan for road pricing that I'll set out as a basis for discussion; and second, a road map for moving from where we are today toward a consideration of road pricing in New York.

The first element of the plan is a targeted form of congestion pricing. It's a targeted form because the charges apply only at the times and places that congestion is most severe. And I think we all know what those are: traveling inbound to the Manhattan CBD, the area below 60th Street, in the morning rush hour; midday throughout the Manhattan CBD; and leaving the CBD in the afternoon rush hour.

So rather than having one relatively large charge that would apply from 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning until 6:30 at night, as London has done, our plan has three smaller charges that are targeted at each of these key times and places, each of these types of trips.

First, there would be an AM cordon fee, which would apply to vehicles entering the CBD below 60th Street in Manhattan in the AM peak. The fee might be variable, so it might start lower and then rise over this time period, as traffic builds. Motorists driving into the CBD would pay the fee as they cross the Hudson River, the East River, or 60th Street. Those driving out of the CBD would not pay, so reverse commuters would not pay, nor would anyone who is simply making a trip from one place to another within the CBD in this morning peak time.

Second, there would be a midday fee that would apply from, say, about 10 AM to 4 PM. This fee would apply to any vehicle driving in the Manhattan CBD, whether the trips are within the CBD coming into or going out of the CBD.

Then there would be a PM cordon fee, which would apply to vehicles leaving the CBD in the afternoon peak. Like the AM fee, the PM fee would not apply to vehicles traveling in the reverse direction, nor to vehicles simply traveling within the CBD. So each of these fees targets the times and places where congestion is most severe.

For the focus-group discussion, we suggested that each of these CBD fees would be $4. In addition to the CBD fees, the plan includes express lanes on selected major highways throughout the city. Express lanes would be open to vehicles that would pay a toll for the use of them, as well as to high-occupancy vehicles, buses, and the like. An essential part of this is that the fees would vary by time of day. It would be highest when congestion is most severe, which might be rush hour, midday, or throughout all those periods, depending on the highway.

On the other hand, there would be no fee for using the express lanes when the general-purpose lane is uncongested. Express lanes would be implemented on major highways, as practical, given the considerable physical and operational constraints that exist. An upcoming study for the New York State Department of Transportation will help to identify feasible highway corridors.

The final part of the plan is a pilot parking-fee program on selected blocks in commercial areas. The charges would be set to achieve a reasonable level of vehicular turnover in order to demonstrate to people the effectiveness of this approach in increasing the availability of parking. People in the focus groups were very skeptical that any type of parking pricing would make it easier to find a parking spot. So I think the first step is to do a pilot that shows people that this would, in fact, be the case and provide a basis for further discussion.

How would this plan affect various types of trips? Let's take a few examples. The rush-hour commuter who drives over the Brooklyn Bridge would pay $8 in fees per day: $4 inbound in the morning and $4 outbound in the afternoon. The same commuter who goes home late in the day would pay the AM fee of $4, but no PM fee, if he is going home after 6:30 PM. So, again, it applies to each trip, and there is a sort of incentive to go home later.

A salesperson who commutes into Manhattan and then drives around during the day making calls would pay $12, the most that anyone would pay per day. Motorists would receive a credit on the AM and PM cordon fees for any bridge or tunnel tolls that they might pay. Thus, rush-hour commuters from Queens who use the Midtown Tunnel would pay the tunnel toll as they do now but would not pay a cordon fee.

A number of drivers would pay no fees-for example, the janitor who works midnight to 8 AM. These are the groups of people that the focus-group participants expressed particular concern about: someone driving in for a Broadway show who drives into the city in the late afternoon; the CBD resident who commutes out to Queens; or the parent who lives on the Lower East Side and drops off the kids at a downtown school and parks by 10 AM.

The plan that we recommend recognizes that, as Kathy suggested, traffic congestion is a citywide problem. The express lanes are one method of providing citywide traffic relief. The CBD cordon fees also reduce traffic not just below 60th Street but in downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, on the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, and many other parts of the city, as well, because fewer motorists would be driving into the Manhattan CBD.

This plan particularly helps downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City by removing the incentives for motorists to use the free East River bridges in order to avoid the tunnel tolls. The plan targets road pricing to the times and places that the congestion is most severe, thus, as we've seen from the examples, minimizing the effects on motorists who are not really a part of the congestion problem.

This is a plan for all of New York. It selects the best-practice elements from London, Stockholm, and Sweden, in terms of express tolls from other parts of this country, to meet the needs of our city and provide citywide traffic relief.

That's the pricing part of the plan. Now I'll go over the equally important non-pricing elements of the plan.

Revenues from fees and tolls should be used to improve transit and roads in the city. Most of the funds should be allocated to improvements in public transportation, especially in areas where people drive because they're not well served by public transportation.

The heaviest concentrations of auto commuters to the CBD live in eastern Queens, Staten Island, and, interestingly, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. These areas need faster and more reliable transit service to the CBD, which could be paid for using congestion fees.

I saw in the newspapers this week that people talk about folks in eastern Queens as not having subway service, and the assumption is that they all drive into the CBD. In fact, this isn't the case. There is no area of the city where most people going to work into the CBD are driving.

Anyplace you look, most people are using public transportation. So if you look at eastern Queens, for example, by a two-to-one majority, CBD commuters from these areas already use public transportation. They would be helped by this plan, assuming that the revenue is used to improve their commutes.

The allocation of revenues to public transportation and roads needs to be guaranteed through some appropriate mechanism. This needs further discussion. People are very concerned about what will actually happen to the revenues.

There needs to be a carefully designed array of non-pricing congestion reduction steps, as we've discussed. It's essential to show that things are moving in the right direction by implementing short-term programs currently in the planning stages, such as bus rapid transit.

Finally, there should be a public dialogue about transportation problems: the importance of doing something about them; the advantages and the disadvantages of a range of pricing and non-pricing solutions; and the impact of alternative solutions on congestion, equity, and other considerations.

New York needs to have a broad discussion about how traffic congestion affects the economy and our quality of life and what we want to do about it. This study and our discussion today are intended to contribute to that dialogue.

There are clearly many challenges to pursuing the plan that we recommend. The details need to be discussed and refined. There are substantial institutional hurdles. There are substantial challenges in terms of just getting the technology right.

But despite these challenges, at this point we are able to answer a few key questions. Can a plan that includes road pricing work as intended? From the experience of London and elsewhere, we see that the answer is yes. Would it have a beneficial effect on the city's economy? From the New York City Partnership study, we see that the answer is yes. Would it improve the quality of life in the city? From the focus groups, we see very clearly that the answer is yes. Can it gain support from the public? We see from this research that the answer is yes.

SAM SCHWARTZ: If congestion pricing is such a good idea, and it was a good idea back in 1980 and in 1970, why hasn't it hasn't been implemented? What's going wrong with congestion pricing?

Plans like this have surfaced in the past. I think it's really important to look at the history and then figure out if there is a way that we can address the concerns. I know that Councilman Weprin has a lot of concerns, which we will hear in a few minutes. How can we address the concerns of the people from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the other boroughs in dealing with this issue?

Looking at the history, we once had congestion pricing. Until 1911, there were tolls on the East River bridges. Every way to get into Manhattan was tolled. After an assassination attempt on Mayor William Gaynor's life, tolls were removed. I'm told that the two events were unconnected.

In 1951, congestion pricing, the concept of using a capitalist approach to traffic, was conceived here by William Vickery, an economics professor at Columbia University who went on to win the Nobel Prize. I'm so jealous that London did it first, when the idea was born here in New York.

From 1971 to 1973, I worked with Brian Ketchum on the transportation control plan, which included congestion pricing. We got it approved by Mayor John Lindsay and Governor Malcolm Wilson but were later beaten down by Elizabeth Holtzman, a Brooklyn congresswoman, and Daniel Moynihan, with the Holtzman-Moynihan amendment.

Abe Beame asked me to look at the plan, and I concluded in my report that it would work. That report never saw the light of day. After the successful outcome of the 1980 11-day transit strike, the Koch administration was hailed as heroic, and we were asked, "What kinds of things could we do to improve transportation in New York?" We singled out the single-occupant car and said, "If anybody should have to pay to come into Manhattan, it's the single-occupant car."

We got local laws passed that required the single-occupant car to use the toll facilities. They couldn't use the free bridges from 6 AM to 10 AM. Ironically, we were sued by the Garage Board of Trade. All garages practice congestion pricing. But we were also sued by the Automobile Club.

In 1986, under Ross Sandler, again, with Ed Koch, we released a plan that was referred to as the draconian measures, including congestion pricing. We didn't call it the draconian measures; others called it that. So we've gotten beaten up over the years. I'm a veteran of the congestion pricing wars. I'd like to see it finally implemented. I think it has a lot of very positive effects, but it's got to be a different program.

What we have in New York right now stinks. We have the world's worst pricing scheme. We toll people to drive from Queens to the Rockaways, but we don't toll people to drive from Queens into the central business district over the Queensboro Bridge. We toll everybody driving from Staten Island to anywhere. We toll anybody driving from Queens up to the Bronx.

So my plan is to remove all tolls from the Verrazano Bridge-where they don't belong-and from the Whitestone Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Gil Hodges Bridge out to the Rockaways, and the Cross Bay Boulevard Bridge, and then apply congestion pricing only where we have two situations: congestion and good transit alternatives. So we would apply that to the central business district.

What does that do? First, the program can't be viewed as a tax. That's what's killing it. Tax, tax, tax. What politician is going to say, "I voted for a tax"? It should be a revenue-neutral program. The Bridge and Tunnel Authority collects a billion dollars a year now. It should be a billion dollars afterward. The Port Authority collects, I think, $600 million. It should stay at that level with some inflation thrown in. So it's not a tax.

Second, the people from Brooklyn and Queens would suddenly have five river crossings that they wouldn't have to pay any tolls on. And the only place that they would pay tolls is not on the river crossings but when they get into the central business district.

If you want to drive over the Brooklyn Bridge, go up the FDR Drive, and go out the Willis Avenue Bridge to the Bronx, I would say no tolls. You didn't set rubber in midtown Manhattan.

So we need to rethink things. We have to give Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island a great deal. We have to recognize that we are dealing with drivers, and they are part of the population. I think those of us who have been advocating congestion pricing for a long time have been talking to one another. We've been talking to people who ride the subways. We haven't been talking to people who drive cars.

We have to-if we're going to make this work-make it real congestion pricing. London didn't set up tolls 20 or 30 miles out of central London. Congestion pricing is in central London; that's the only place where it belongs.

And if we do that, maybe we've got a chance, and I won't be back here in 20 years. I don't know if I've got that much longer in this business to be talking about congestion pricing.

DAVID WEPRIN: I'm going to tell you story about a man who drives his Rolls-Royce into downtown Manhattan. He's about to go on a two-week business trip and goes into a bank in downtown Manhattan and asks for a $5,000 loan. The loan officer asks, "Do you have any collateral for the loan?" The man says, "Well, I have my Rolls-Royce here. It's worth a lot of money." "Okay, that works. We'll take your Rolls-Royce."

The loan officer puts the car in the private underground parking garage for senior executives of the bank. The man takes his $5,000 and goes to Europe. He comes back two weeks later and returns to the same bank. He goes to the same loan officer and says, "I'd like to pay off my loan." So the loan officer says, "That's fine. It'll be $5,000 in principal and $15 in interest. The man quickly writes a check for $5,015, and the loan officer, before the man leaves, says, "Excuse me, sir. We were just wondering, why would a man who drives a Rolls-Royce need a $5,000 loan?" The man said, "Well, I really didn't. But, frankly, where else can I park my car in Manhattan for two weeks for $15?"

That's a whole other issue, I guess, which perhaps we'll get into. A lot has been said about eastern Queens, and I do represent a district in eastern Queens. The nearest subway station to most of my district is three or four miles away. In some cases, it's about a mile and a half to the 179th Street subway. But we're also not accessible to bus lines, for the most part. Most people who take public transportation in Queens actually take their car to that public transportation.

The Queens Chamber of Commerce did a study showing that about 40 percent of the people who commute by car into Manhattan come from Queens and that they have little choice but to come by car. We rely on those free bridges because it gets expensive, especially for residents with relatively modest incomes. You can argue the statistics. The Queens Chamber of Commerce did a study showing that the average income of a Queens commuter was $42,000. Kathy Wylde actually grabbed me earlier and said, "That statistic is wrong. It's really $72,000 or $75,000."

Even $72,000 or $75,000, we're not talking about wealthy individuals. And when you're dealing with individuals who are middle class and struggling to make a living, imposing a tax-and it is a tax on those residents-is really not fair.

Sam Schwartz referred to making all the bridges free. Using the hat of my prior investment banking career, I think that there might be some issues of outstanding bonds because, of course, you have 30- and 20-year bonds outstanding, and there are certain covenants involving the revenue earmarked for the debt service. I'm sure that there are legal issues, but it is an intriguing possibility for future discussion. But, as you know, this is not a new topic, and Sam Schwartz will be the first one to tell you that it isn't a new topic.

I think that there is a major problem with congestion; I'll be the first one to say that. But I don't think the answer is to tax residents of Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx. I think the problem is enforcement of existing traffic rules.

I've come up with four or five suggestions for how we can reduce traffic with the current pricing scheme. Those of you who have driven into Manhattan and even those of who have taken taxis in Manhattan know the problems created by double- and triple-parked cars all over Manhattan. Clearly, that is illegal, but there is no enforcement. We have to put more resources into cracking down on enforcement of double- and triple-parked cars.

Taxis are required to pick up and discharge passengers at the curb or close to the curb. How many times have you been in the flow of traffic when a taxi would stop dead in the middle of the road and cause major congestion because he is picking up a fare or discharging a fare?

We need additional public transportation. I'd love to see a subway in my district. We have some express buses, but in recent years they've been cut back; we really need more express buses.

That's another way to deal with that issue. But a lot of the congestion in Manhattan deals with traffic problems and enforcement of existing traffic laws-such as double- and triple-parking, taxis that are discharging and picking up passengers illegally, and other violations of existing traffic laws.

A lot of people have referred to the London experience. The London experience has been good, as far as reducing traffic, but there are organizations in the London area that have disputed the results. They have not disputed that the London experience has reduced traffic, but they have argued that it has hurt the economy significantly.

Just to cite a few statistics from the London experience: 750 businesses closed in one year; 84 percent of businesses experienced a drop in sales; and 62 percent of businesses reported a decline in the number of customers. And the fees have gone up significantly. Some people have talked about modest fees. In London, they started at $8.75 and went to $14 for the business district in less than three years, and there's a proposal by the mayor to increase the charge even higher. Some proposals range from $17.50 a day to $48 a day.

If we were talking about that level of fees, it would really burden those individuals and commuters from the other-than-Manhattan boroughs. I won't say "outer" boroughs but the four boroughs out of Manhattan whose residents really do rely on their cars for business.
There's another issue with driving. As I mentioned, if congestion pricing is put into place, there are people who will end up driving to other parts of Queens, other parts of Brooklyn, and then take public transportation. But I'm not sure that those areas could accommodate the additional congestion, both from the standpoint of getting to those areas and the standpoint of the parking situation. Finding parking is already a problem in parts of Long Island City and other parts of Brooklyn. Those problems would be multiplied significantly.

Finally, it's nice to use the word "fee." We do that in City Hall, as well, when we don't want to talk about taxes. But this is really an additional tax on individuals who can't afford it. Those residents who live in the outer boroughs-excuse me, the other-than-Manhattan boroughs-are really middle-class people; whether they're making $42,000 a year or $75,000 a year, they're not wealthy individuals. In most cases, they would not take their car if they didn't feel the necessity to take their car. You're also talking about a number of small businesses that rely on their cars, and we don't want to price small businesses out of the city.

MS. COHEN: Thank you all for what was a very interesting and informative discussion. There are a few issues that I thought we could perhaps delve into further during the Q&A. First is the question as to whether congestion is a citywide problem, not just in the Manhattan CBD. Second is parking and all its implications. Finally, what about the burden that would be placed on public transportation if people do leave their cars due to congestion pricing? We'll now open the floor to questions from the audience.

WALTER McCAFFREY: I'm from a group that has recently been formed called Keep New York City Congestion-Tax Free. First, in terms of the type of public support that's out there: the Tri-State poll cited in the discussion was based on the assumption that it was a $2 charge. Having been a council member for 16 years, I can tell you that politically when it gets to be eight or ten times that amount, the support will drop into the basement. Another assumption that is out there is that there will be sufficient funds generated to supply mass transit improvements and that the funds generated will go to mass transit and will not just end up being treated as general revenue. Until people can have some realistic discussion-not theoretical never-never-land discussions, but real discussions of the political and legal questions out there-how can a proposal ever move forward?

MR. WEPRIN: Walter McCaffrey raises a good point as far as the revenue portion. It's been my experience, as head of the finance committee for the last five years, that even when agency heads generate their own income, they cannot spend that income. There are a lot of historical reasons for that, but the money does end up going into the general fund, and there's a whole list of various priorities.

The amounts of money we're talking about, in my opinion, disproportionately affect those commuters who rely on their cars. But you make a good point, which I don't think was raised before, that there's no guarantee that the money will go into mass transportation, affecting those individuals, certainly, who really would need it.

How long did it take for the Second Avenue subway to actually get going? I guess we're getting close. That may help. But if you were going to create a new subway system in Queens, you're talking tens of billions of dollars over a long period of time.

MR. SCHALLER: First, I'm not sure about the Tri-State poll, but the amount of money we were talking about in the focus groups was comparable with what I talked about in the presentation: $4 CBD fees and $4 entry/exit fees during rush hour. Second, I know that many city agencies collect money that's used only for certain programs: their own programs. That's a policy issue. It's not something that you couldn't do, unless you just didn't want to.

MS. WYLDE: Walter is right with respect to the use of tax revenues but not with respect to user fees, which is what we're talking about here. All the tolls for the bridges are dedicated to pay for transportation, for example. There's no precedent-breaking issue here for user fees. You're confusing tolls with general tax revenues.

MALE VOICE: It might not be a bad idea to start off with, number one, high-occupancy lanes, which are choices, and then perhaps if you had a congestion fee, using your congestion fee only as it relates to people coming into the city in single-occupancy vehicles. I think you'd learn pretty fast how quickly that incentive changed behavior. It would also answer Councilman Weprin's point that there are a very large number of people who are outside of the ability to get to public transportation, because it would give them a way not to have to pay any additional fee by doubling up with someone.

MS. WYLDE: I think that 40 percent of the vehicles coming in are single-occupancy, so that's a very good point.

MR. SCHWARTZ: In the studies I've seen, the single-occupancy rate is 60 percent; but even at 40 percent, if you doubled up those people, you'd see the 15 percent reduction in traffic that we're looking for. That is why we singled out single-occupancy vehicles in 1980. The city did, in fact, pass that rule. But, as you know, we were sued.

DICK ANDERSON: I'm with the New York Building Congress. I think we all know that many factors drive public policy. One of those factors is crisis. Where's the crisis that would bring us over the top with something like this? The crisis I think that's coming, maybe sooner rather than later, is lack of money for the MTA. Have any of you thought about how that real crisis, where the MTA is going to be so starved for capital and operating funds, would help in reaching a decision on this? We need the money. It's not just that we have to deal with congestion, but we need the money for public transit.

MR. SCHWARTZ: I see a different crisis, Dick, and it's here right now. I represent lots of developers building all over New York City. Every community and group where I go, they say, what are you going to do about the traffic? How can we add another million people? That's going to affect the whole building industry, our whole construction industry, our economic engine. We have a crisis today on fitting this additional million people in, unless we solve our traffic problem.

STEVE STRAUSS: I'm with the New York City Comptroller's Office. I think it's interesting that the opponents of congestion pricing always like to play off four boroughs versus one borough. If you look at the cordon counts, I believe that 37 or 38 percent of the people coming into the central business district are coming from north of 60th Street in Manhattan. And then we have all these people from New Jersey. So I'm not sure that the burden falls so much on Brooklyn and Queens. Maybe Bruce or Sam could talk a bit about the distribution of the people who are coming into the Manhattan central business district. How many are from northern Manhattan? How many are from New Jersey?

MR. SCHWARTZ: I'd say four and a half boroughs, other than the central business district.

MR. SCHALLER: Yes, obviously, Steve, they're coming in from all over the city, from the north, as well as from the east and west. It's unfortunate that this issue becomes a Manhattan-versus-the-outer-boroughs issue. It's unfortunate not just because of the way it plays out politically but because it doesn't solve the problem. The problem is congestion, and the problem is citywide; we need citywide solutions. That's what I've tried to lay out. By making it into an issue of Manhattan versus the outer boroughs, there's obviously a political advantage but it doesn't well serve constituents who are in Queens, Brooklyn, and other parts of the city, who are experiencing congestion where they live every day and would like to see solutions.

In the Manhattan Institute study, we saw very clearly that people are looking at all the condos going up, which they see as being a real problem. That's the crisis, if you will, and people would like to see real solutions. The solutions could be pricing and non-pricing, not to distinguish and say either/or, but to look at what combination of things makes the most sense and will be the most effective. The attraction to pricing is that it's clearly the most effective. Enforcement by itself is not going to get us there.

MS. WYLDE: And it raises money for transit.

MR. SCHALLER: Yes, it raises money for transit.

MILTON INGERMAN: I'm a private practitioner of medicine in the city. I have been here for many, many years. While I was in the service down in Washington a number of years ago, I noticed a system that I think should be considered. At major intersections, the traffic light would turn red for vehicular traffic in all directions, thus giving the pedestrian an opportunity to cross the street in all directions for a particular period of time-90 seconds, two minutes, whatever. After that, traffic would resume and pedestrians could not cross at all and the vehicular traffic would be free to go in the appropriate direction. I think if we brought this idea to New York, it would significantly alleviate congestion. If anybody has driven down Fifth Avenue, Park Avenue, or Madison Avenue, to make a turn is ridiculous, and it's dangerous for the pedestrians, as well.

MR. SCHWARTZ: Yes. And that idea wasn't invented in Washington. It was invented right here by Henry Barnes in the 1960s. The traffic lights at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, Vanderbilt and 42nd Street, Broadway and Battery Place, and about 17 other locations operate in that fashion. The traffic department deemed that there wasn't enough capacity on some of the streets to have that additional phase for pedestrians. If we introduce programs like congestion pricing in our densest areas, I think we can easily go back to programs like that, and I think we can easily widen sidewalks and easily plant more trees in our city.

CAROLYN KONHEIM: I'm from Community Consulting Services, a Brooklyn-based organization working with communities. In my opinion, the most important principle that we have to employ is equity: the equal tolling of all crossings. It's the inequality between toll prices that distorts traffic patterns and causes the enormous congestion around Long Island City, downtown Brooklyn, and everywhere that people have a choice. We have to equalize the costs.

MS. WYLDE: I agree. In a sense, don't we already see some congestion pricing at work by virtue of the fact that on the East River crossings, some bridges have a fee and some do not? And doesn't that affect what people choose to do when they travel and where they travel?

MR. SCHWARTZ: Yes. I agree with Carolyn. This is an absurd system, where you can shop for a bridge. We have sales on our bridges. If you're a trucker, you have a choice: stay on limited access highways where you should and go out the Verrazano Bridge and pay $40, or, we invite you to ride over the Queensboro Bridge for free and out the Lincoln Tunnel for free, so you can travel and tour midtown Manhattan. It's an absurd system.

MR. WEPRIN: It's a different system. I don't think it's an absurd system, because I think you're giving consumers choices in some ways. My constituents who drive, myself included, make that decision each and every day whether to take a free bridge or a toll bridge, depending on where they're going.

I can't tell you how many times my constituents have used the Queensboro Bridge because it is free, even though they may be closer to the Midtown Tunnel or closer to the Triborough Bridge. But that's a decision you make, and it's also based on how much time you have to get there, whether you're going for leisure purposes or whether you're late for a meeting.

But it really is a consumer decision, and my constituents and the constituents in the four and a half boroughs make that decision. In some ways, it is an economic decision. But I'm a strong advocate for not tolling the free bridges. So that's another fight.

The mayor actually brought that idea up when we had a fiscal problem in 2002, and he soon realized that public opinion was not evenly divided; it was more like a 90/10 split at that point, with the majority of people opposed to tolling the free bridges. We can debate that back and forth, but I think if you polled all 8.2 million residents in the city, you'd see overwhelming opposition to tolling the free bridges.

MS. COHEN: This issue of choice between toll bridges and free bridges is somewhat analogous to the idea of express lanes that Bruce was talking about, in which you have a choice between spending more time and less money, or more money and less time.

MS. WYLDE: Yes. The Manhattan Institute study showed that one way to increase support for road pricing is to provide consumers with choice. But I think what gets lost in this discussion is that we're talking about a limited public commodity that is being subsidized by everybody. To talk about consumer choice in that context is to rely on a false set of assumptions.

MR. SCHWARTZ: I want to explain why I think the councilman's support of choice between free and toll bridges is a bad choice for New York City. The result is that the Queensboro Bridge, which should be used by 110,000 vehicles a day, is used by 150,000 vehicles a day, and those additional vehicles come from the Midtown Tunnel and from the Triborough Bridge, with no revenue stream to fix the Queensboro Bridge.
It's been crumbling, and all our bridges have been crumbling because there has been no revenue base. So it's been bad for us to have those extra 40,000 vehicles pounding the bridge with no revenue stream to maintain the bridge.

RAMON CRUZ: I'm with Environmental Defense. Something that doesn't often get mentioned in debates like this as a compelling reason for traffic reduction is the health effects of congestion. For example, tailpipe pollution is linked to asthma, cancer, heart disease, and other respiratory illness. Over 80 percent of the cancer risk from toxic chemicals in the air that New Yorkers breathe comes from tailpipe pollution. I live just a few blocks from downtown Brooklyn, one of the asthma hot spots of New York City. While I agree with many of the traffic relief measures that council member Weprin mentioned, we also need to get the 15 percent traffic reduction that Ms. Wylde suggested that we need. So I was wondering what other measures could result in a 15 percent reduction that could help reduce the health effects of traffic congestion.

MR. SCHALLER: There are a lot of non-pricing things that need to be done; we've talked about some in our report, and the Partnership has as well. But none of them, to my knowledge, come anywhere close to the 15 percent or more that you would get from pricing.

It's very clear that New Yorkers do want something done about traffic congestion. It's very clear that it is a problem for motorists and for everybody else. But what are people willing to accept? What should the program be? That's what we're here to look at. I don't think it's a viable argument that people are happy with the way that things are now.

JOSHUA BEANSTALK: I'm with the Queens Chamber of Commerce. The MTA recently reported that ridership is up in New York City 36 percent over the last ten years, while the number of cars entering the central business district is relatively stable. It seems as though the solution is staring us all in the face, and we're not focusing on it. Councilman Weprin pointed it out. If we improve mass transit in those areas that are seriously under-serviced right now, the people are going to come. They've been coming over the last ten years. They have been coming because the cost of gas has gone up and the cost of maintaining cars has gone up. But if we punish the drivers to achieve the goal, who are the people going to be who are the 30 percent who no longer drive into Manhattan? Will it be the people driving their limos, or will it be the average working person who says that the $1,700 or more a year is just too much for him to bear? Are we going to make New York City even more elitist than it already is?

MR. WEPRIN: That's the argument I was making: that the people who are driving in-whether it's 40 percent or 60 percent from Queens, and then from the other boroughs-are not wealthy individuals. We're not talking about people who are coming in limos. We're talking about people who feel an obligation to get to work and have to drive because they're not located near public transportation.

There's no question that we need to improve public transportation, and we hope that the Second Avenue subway will help tremendously in reducing some of the subway congestion. But if we suddenly put all these people who drive in on the subways, what is going to happen? If you've taken the subway recently, you know that it's very, very crowded, and you can't get a seat, especially if you're coming from Queens. You can't even get on a train, because you have to pass three or four trains pass before you can squeeze into one in most spots.

If you get on, say, in Forest Hills, somebody drives you, which is the way we commute in Queens; somebody drives you to the subway station or you drive there yourself and park your car. That's the only way to commute to the subway in my area of Queens. When you're getting on in Forest Hills, you have to let four or five trains go by before you get on, and then when you do get on, it's not always the most pleasant experience, but people make those choices. It may be quicker than driving, but it may not be a very pleasant way to get to work, and you may not want to start your day after that experience.

MS. WYLDE: I think that makes the point that takes us full circle. We all know that our limitation on improving the public transportation system is money. And to generate the resources, we need to improve it-we have to raise taxes or we have to figure out other sources of revenue. So if we're going to improve the transit system, how are we going to accomplish that without congestion pricing?

STEVE HAMMER: I'm from Columbia University. Fascinating studies have come out recently, and one of the things I'm very interested in is how they're going to link to other research and reports, including the mayor's sustainability plan that we expect to hear next week. London's congestion plan has been referenced quite a bit today. The London plan is part of a much larger strategy that the mayor of London has put into place to address the massive population growth that they're expecting over the next 20 years. It includes a land-use strategy that considers how people are going to move around London over the next 20 years by ensuring that people are located near the transit hub itself. It tries to increase the population density in areas near the transit hubs. Does Mayor Bloomberg's forthcoming sustainability plan address those types of issues?

MS. WYLDE: We have Ester Fuchs from Columbia University in the audience. She is working with the Bloomberg administration on the sustainability plan. Ester, can you answer that question?

ESTER FUCHS: Regarding the sustainability plan, it will be a holistic plan taking into account virtually every point that you made. I think that the issue of congestion pricing is hot, and it is going to be considered. It's not resolved yet, in terms of what the final plan will be.

In a week, there will be a speech by the mayor, which will outline a framework, and then the debate will continue, which it should, because everybody needs to engage in this debate. In the final plan, every single issue that you mentioned will be addressed. So you're absolutely right. I think that's an important point.

MS. COHEN: Okay. That sounds like a good place to end for today. Thank you all for coming.

 


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