Thank you, council members, for this opportunity
to testify in favor of the congestion-pricing
program. I am Hope Cohen, Deputy Director of
the Manhattan Institute's Center for Rethinking
We entered the congestion-pricing debate in
2006, when we issued a study on the public acceptability
of road pricing. That research found that New
Yorkers are open to pricing solutions as part
of a comprehensive package of transportation
improvements designed to reduce traffic congestion.
Since Mayor Bloomberg first discussed congestion
pricing last April, we have supported the concept,
while voicing concerns about implementation
details. With the revisions recommended by the
Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, we
are here today to say in no uncertain terms
that it is timebefore March 31to proceed
with the congestion-pricing program.
New Yorkers know already that pricing works.
Our East River crossings have demonstrated for
decades that tolls do affect driver behavior.
The untolled Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg,
and Queensboro bridges, along with their feeder
roads, are regularly clogged, while traffic
flows more smoothly to and through the tolled
And our transportation infrastructure needs
the revenue that congestion pricing will generate.
The bridges I just namedalong with the others
the city operatescompete for funding with
all other municipal budget priorities. Over
the years, the lack of a dedicated revenue stream
has resulted in deferred maintenance and sometimes
Meanwhile, the MTA's tolled East River crossings
(the Triborough Bridge and Queens-Midtown and
Brooklyn-Battery tunnels)and the Hudson River
crossings, which are all tolled by the Port
Authorityare in exemplary condition. Tolls
yield enough revenue not only to maintain the
facilities to the highest standards, but also
to subsidize the public transit operations of
MTA and Port Authority.
Funds raised from congestion pricing will also
subsidize transit and will enable our transportation
infrastructure to reach and maintain a state
of good repair. And it starts now. Meeting the
March 31 deadline is essential for the city
to get federal funding for public transportationmore
bus and ferry service, better connectionsfor
the communities sending the most drivers into
Manhattan's central business district.
Of course, congestion pricing is not a traffic
panacea. As our study recommended in 2006, the
administration is proposing it as one element
of a congestion-reduction program, including
increased enforcement of traffic violations
like blocking the box. Since those with access
to free parking near the workplace are the most
likely to drive to jobs in Manhattan, we endorse
the commission's recommendations on curbside
parking and the mayor's recent emphasis on reducing
official parking placards.
We want to qualify for federal funding for
up-front transit upgrades to entice drivers
out of their cars, benefitting our air quality,
our economy, and the infrastructure that enables
New York to be the most environmentally efficient
place in the nation. So please, council members,
send a home rule message to Albany to say New
York City wants to reduce traffic congestion
and invest in our vital transportation network.