Bloomberg’s Planners Hear Public on Traffic Woes, Would Rather Talk About Something Else



Back in December, when civic groups proposed the idea of “congestion pricing” — charging cars to enter midtown during prime hours, as a way to control Manhattan’s ever-more-horrible traffic — Mayor Bloomberg quickly danced away from it. “The politics of a commuter tax in Albany are probably such that we would never get it passed,” he told the Times then. “And what I want to do is focus on those things that we can get passed to help our city.” He’s since launched PlaNYC, a canvass for opinions about how to help the city survive a million new residents and sharply higher sea levels by 2030, and it seems congestion pricing has wedged its way back into consideration.

At a working session this morning to discuss jobs-related goals for PlaNYC, Rohit Aggarwala, the mayor’s sustainability czar, displayed a PowerPoint slide showing that average citizens have suggested it as an idea worthy of consideration. A City Hall staffer says Aggarwala’s slide doesn’t imply endorsement of the idea, but Pratt Center for Community Development chief Brad Lander, who organized the session, sees it as a reward for input. “At the [PlaNYC] launch in Queens, the tensest thing was congestion pricing, which now looks like it’s in the discussion,” he told us. Otherwise, the session focused on less controversial issues — you know, jobs and environmental policy and rent control. Hey, compared to traffic, those are polite conversation. —Alec Appelbaum