Sunday, July 1, 2007

On Congestion Pricing

You can say a lot for congestion pricing. It’ll cut down on CO2 and haze and lung cancer. It’ll raise New York noses even higher. It’ll make the mayor look good in a green-conscious world.

Never mind that Manhattan drivers will have to pay $4 just to take a car from the parking garage to drive Gram to the family dinner, and $8 to get out of town. Never mind that Queens drivers already taking any toll-free bridge to save a buck will pay the full $8 extra. Never mind that the less-congested bridges (that is, the toll bridges) will be more crowded than before, thanks to that EZ-Pass discount in the mayor's plan.

Instead, think about what it’ll do to the subways. Already the 4, 5, and 6 lines are past capacity at rush hour. If you watch the L train in the morning, it'll remind you of those 1950s photos of teenagers cramming themselves into a phone booth to see how many would fit.

Remember, too, that the big argument for congestion pricing is that it will make New York air healthier to breathe. But compare New York's above-ground air with the stink of a subway platform, what with all the urine, rat hair, fermenting garbage, and contagious fellow riders all competing for oxygen in a fetid, underventilated underground. The police call it the Electric Sewer. Will you be any healthier--or just more stressed out--when all those cranky overcrowded people start snarling at each other? How about when you get mugged?

Los Angeles has the country's most polluted air. The American Lung Association ranks it #1 for smog and airborne particles. New York ranks tenth and 18th, respectively.

Mr. Bloomberg: LA needs you. Go do your good deeds there.

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1 “Some Subways Found Packed Past Capacity,” New York Times, 6/26/07
2 Wikipedia; Life magazine.
3Reported on http://www.citymayors.com/environment/polluted_uscities.html

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