Michael Bloomberg New York City's mayor gave an invigorating pro-environmental reform speech last Sunday on Earthday. His speech included many exciting ideas on ways that he is planning on reforming New York into the worlds "greenest" large metropolis. Among the many ideas included in his speech is one which has been in debate for quite some time now, Congestion Pricing. Congestion pricing is a flat $8 fee that will be charged for all automotive vehicles traveling in Manhattan south of 86th st during certain heavily traveled times and days. The purpose of this fee is to reduce automotive travel and force more people to use mass transit. In addition the additional revenue created from this fee will be used to increase promote many ideas included in his speech to increase availability to mass transit. This contentious idea is very interesting because it seems to be forcing sides in an rather odd fashion. Some of the pro-groups are the environmental groups and the generally more wealthy new yorkers that feel that this will reduce travel time for those who don't mind paying the additional fees. There have been some very interesting radio discussions on this subject that have given the pro & dissenting groups an opportunity to voice their opinions. To listen to the discussions click here & here.
This idea is already implemented in Singapore and London, which both have greatly reduced their congestion, smog, and increased their usage of mass transit by implementing these fees.
As somebody who would be directly affected by this fee I have strong feelings about implementing this. My against side feels that, I already live in a city that is so expensive that it makes living a middle class life tough as it is. I use mass transit 90% of the time but, the few times that I want to drive through the city why should I have to pay an additional $8 on top of the already expensive $6 I pay to use the tunnels, this on top of high gas prices makes me very annoyed. The thing that concerns me is that how long will it take for the $8 to increase to $9 and higher. New York mass transit prices have increased dramatically in the past couple years, and if I felt confident that this congestion fee would stay at $8 I could deal with it but, I know that once they start raising prices again this congestion fee will go up also.
However, my pro-green side feels that drastic problems require drastic solutions. If this congestion fee does dramatically reduce congestion, increase air quality, and also improve mass transit by properly re-investing the money into improving New York's already better than average mass transit system I don't see how I can complain.
I really feel all in all that going green is about looking forward into the future. You can no longer livefor the day but need to live for the century. I commend Michael Bloomberg on this progressive push toward making New York greener. Although I know I will be upset when I get these additional charges for driving through new york, I guess I can feel a comfort that it is going to towards a good cause, and helping a problem much bigger than me losing $8.
I just hope that in the first 3 trial years that this is implemented it is looked at carefully to actually reduce congestion and air pollution. If it does not work than please retract it, but if it does than I think eventually everyone will be on board.