Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Start spreading the news

New York, New York is a tollin' town (if Mike Bloomberg gets his way):

A report for the Manhattan Institute think tank proposes extensive central area road pricing and express lanes tolling in New York City. The report comes amid speculation that the Bloomberg administration may embrace some aspects of road pricing as part of a larger initiative to improve infrastructure and cope with growth.

The Manhattan Institute report titled "Battling Traffic" and written by Bruce Schaller is mostly a discussion of public attitudes to pricing and how to overcome the political obstacles, but at the end it has these specific proposals:

- a 10am to 4pm "Midday Driving Fee" tentatively $4 for driving within the Manhattan CBD defined as south of 60th Street (Central Park), downtown Brooklyn might also be covered

- a 6am to 10am "AM Entry Fee" tentatively $4 for traffic entering the Manhattan CBD, existing toll crossing traffic exempt

- a 4pm to 6:30pm "PM Exit Fee" tentatively $4 for traffic exiting the Manhattan CBD, existing toll crossing traffic exempt

- variably (perhaps dynamically) priced toll lanes on congested area expressways, such as the Gowanus and Long Island Expressway

It isn't specified whether these tolls would be workdays only or cover weekends and holidays as well, and there is no discussions of the exemptions or discounts usually given to local residents.

Schaller does make the overarching point that to gain acceptance any scheme must be heavily focussed on the times and places of recurrent congestion and must be closely tailored to that and designed in detail with the best traffic models and, once implemented, adapted with actual experience.

Schaller writes: "Road pricing should be carefully targeted at the problem. The goal is to set tolls and fees relatively high when congestion is most severe. Fee or toll levels should be reduced or eliminated at other times. This approach maximizes the effectiveness of the program while while minimizing the impact on drivers who travel at less congested times, and it provides the greatest choices to drivers who can shift travel times or routes."

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