Congestion pricing scheme is just another pothole on the road to NYC’s ruin

The headlines make it seem like a good thing by calling it a “plan to reduce traffic in Manhattan.” 

Who can be against that? 

But a more realistic way to describe the congestion pricing scheme scheduled to start next year is that it’s another nail in the city’s coffin. 

At a time when thousands of families have left for safer, cleaner and saner pastures, charging people even more to come to the city amounts to an invitation not to come. 

The governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, rightly sees the plan as another big tax on commuters from his state and calls it a “money grab” by New York.

He believes both New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority will be hurt. 

A Democrat, Murphy faults the Biden administration for approving the idea and has tried to reason with Gov. Hochul, but, as with her plan to ban gas stoves, she’s impervious to common sense. 

Zooming it in 

Raising the price of getting here also undercuts the efforts by City Hall and employers struggling to get workers out of their homes and back into their offices.

Most buildings are nowhere near their pre-COVID, full-time population, and congestion pricing will give reluctant workers another reason to Zoom it in. 

The decline of foot traffic in Midtown and downtown already is having a devastating impact on some restaurants and other retail outlets and adds to the sense of unsafe streets.

Half-empty office buildings and shuttered storefronts are creating concerns about commercial-mortgage defaults, a fear exacerbated by rising interest rates. 

Those are some of the more obvious reasons why congestion pricing is a destructive, cockeyed way of giving the government more money to burn.

Gov. Kathy Hochul
Murphy faults the Biden administration for approving the idea and has tried to reason with Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Ron Adar / M10s / SplashNews.com

Here are others. 

Start with the fact that nearly 50,000 migrants who illegally crossed the Mexican border are now living in Gotham facilities free of charge for as long as they want, many of them in Midtown hotels. 

Yet the commuters and outer-borough residents whose taxes support those freebies and who want or need to drive into Manhattan will be penalized up to an additional $23 a day for the privilege. 

So New York is a sanctuary city only for those who can’t pay, while everybody else is to be gouged until they flee.

That can’t last. 

The plan comes just as there is a rare consensus of both the left and right that New York is increasingly unaffordable to more and more people, making it especially foolish to adopt public policies that make it unaffordable to even more people.

Yet that is what congestion pricing will do. 

NYC traffic
The plan comes just as there is a consensus from both parties that New York is becoming increasingly unaffordable to more and more people.
Paul Martinka

Costs to soar even more 

It is inevitable that the sky-high cost of living and working in the city, much of it driven by government taxes and bureaucracy, will take another leg up. 

The price of everyday goods bought and sold in Manhattan, from potato chips to medicine to furniture, will rise because merchants’ delivery costs will rise. 

And there’s no limit to how high the cost of driving will get.

If the congestion pricing scheme succeeds in reducing traffic, which it almost certainly will, the price to those who pay it will have to be continually hiked to raise the same amount of money. 

How long before the price hits $30, even $40 a day? 

Subway cars
MTA officials have stated that they have lost as much as $650 million a year because riders jump subway turnstiles and enter buses through the back door.
Paul Martinka

The idea also rankles because of where the estimated annual take of $1 billion or more is supposed to go. 

The bulk will go to the MTA, an agency whose finances are out of whack in large part because it can’t or won’t crack down on fare beating. 

Officials admit it has lost as much as $650 million a year because riders jump subway turnstiles and enter buses through the back door, with one study showing as many as one in three bus riders don’t pay. 

Rather than wage all-out war on the fare cheats, the progressive-minded solution is to make honest people further subsidize the deadbeats. 

Free for me, congestion pricing for thee. 

Subway cars
With the loss of revenue, the MTA has seen a rise in crime and an increasing homeless problem on the subways which has led riders to use Uber and other private car services for their travel instead.
Paul Martinka

Meanwhile, the transit agency is also notorious for its out-of-control construction costs.

Here are excerpts from a Post article in February, based on an NYU study: “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority spent nearly twice as much on consultants for the Second Avenue Subway as it did to actually dig the tunnel from 63rd to 96th streets.” 

The report also found that “contractors and unions overstaffed the project, dug caverns for platforms that were double the necessary size and drew up station designs so bespoke that each of the three new stops has escalators made by a different manufacturer.” 

Streamlining management and holding the line on contractor and union costs are difficult, taxing drivers who have no other option is easy. 

The second pot of congestion money will go to pay for a whole new bureaucracy to administer the program, which will include parking permits for people who live within the restricted zone or near the planned northern congestion border of 60th Street. 

There will also be exemptions for the poor, government vehicles and of course political patronage, which will lead to boondoggles and waste.

Boss Tweed would be envious of the opportunities. 

Finally, congestion pricing would reward the very bureaucrats who helped create jammed streets in the first place.

The proliferation of expensive bicycle lanes, pedestrian plazas, bike rental racks, bus lanes, double parking, endless construction barricades, dining sheds and other traffic-squeezing ideas have all played a part in slowing traffic. 

Avoiding the subways 

Also, crime and the largely unchecked homeless problem on the subways have driven many riders to surface transportation, helping to fuel the explosion of Uber and other private car services. 

The dirty truth is that the elitist, anti-car zealots in successive mayoralties have fantasized for decades about a day when they can banish cars altogether.

They want New York to be Europe and, to them, congestion pricing is a partial means to that end. 

While they are closer than ever to getting their way, the working people who have to pay the bills are getting the shaft.

Why not question Obama?

Reader Don Kasprzak thinks we err by calling Washington a swamp because swamps have environmental benefits. He writes: “The DC Cesspool is so much deeper than anyone can imagine. 

“Why hasn’t Barack Obama been subpoenaed, sworn under oath and questioned regarding Joe and Hunter Biden’s corrupt and criminal actions? And Jill Biden should be questioned, too. I guarantee you most wives know exactly what their husbands are doing, especially if it involves money.”

Electing to cheat

Reader Kevin Hartman says the Department of Justice and the FBI didn’t try to hide what they were doing to sway the 2020 election. He writes: “Most of these actions were done in plain sight and were just a matter of what one wanted to read and believe.

“It was typical ‘don’t believe your lying eyes’ psy-op behavior by the government.”

AP’s bias

From the bias desk of the AP:

“GOP state legislatures seek greater control over state and local election offices.”

Are we to believe Democrats seek less control?

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