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Congestion Pricing

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Can't We Just Blame Everyone?

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• With Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan dead, the finger-pointing begins in earnest. Mayor Mike decries Albany's lack of "guts" while state officials accuse the mayor of springing a fully formed proposal on them at the last possible moment. [NYT]

Let Us Ride Bikes!

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We missed this in yesterday's paper, presumably because we were so distracted by Bloomberg's unsuccessful shuttle diplomacy in Albany: While London, Stockholm, and Singapore all have successful congestion-pricing programs, and while Scandinavian capitals have longstanding center-city transportation cultures built around bicycles, and while an art installation in Soho last week made bikes available to New Yorkers for a few days, Paris is now trying to beat its traffic problems by making some 10,000 bicycles available for nominal fees around the city — there'll be 20,000 and change by the end of the year — for people to rent from one of 750 stations, ride to where they need go, and return to another station. This plan sounds like it could be another good way to get some cars off the road and emissions out of the air. Could it be congestion pricing 2.0, Mike? Of course not! It's an interesting and innovative idea; Shelly Silver must hate it. A New French Revolution's Creed: Let Them Ride Bikes [NYT]

Stalled Traffic

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• After all that, Albany shelved Bloomberg's congestion-pricing idea, letting the federal-funding deadline pass without the issue even coming to a vote. Expect a new traffic-reducing proposal, nothing like Bloomberg's, later in the year. [NYT]

Congestion Pricing, ‘Times’ Reporter: Both Still in Purgatory

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Today is the deadline for Albany to get a congestion-pricing deal done, as Mayor Bloomberg has consistently said, and at 5:30 p.m. there's still no legislation. But something still could — indeed, still well might — come together before midnight, which seems about right for our dysfunctional state capital. At City Room, the Times' local-politics blog, statehouse reporter Nick Confessore has been chronicling a day spent trailing officials like Bloomberg and Joe Bruno hoping, usually in vain, for a comment:
The meeting was closed to reporters, who camped outside a locked conference room door, pressing their ears — and tape recorders — to the glass in the hopes of catching an earful of congestion-pricing gossip. (Such is the exciting life of the Albany statehouse reporter.)
We'll remind you that Confessore made A1 a mere four weeks ago with his lament, "In Albany, Life Has Seeped Out of the Night Life." Poor guy. Day of Decision Comes for Congestion Pricing [City Room/NYT]

Traffic Jam

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• It's down to the wire — the deadline for the legislature to approve Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan is today — and the still-unbowed mayor is pulling out all stops: Yesterday, he campaigned for it in three churches, fer chrissakes. [NYT]

Thrice-Married Catholic Not Considered So Religious

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• Only 13 percent of responders think Rudy Giuliani is "of strong religious faith," according to a Time poll — and that's lower than Hillary's number (15 percent). But he once wanted to close down an art exhibit for blasphemy! [NYP] • "The very character of the Northeast is at stake" if greenhouse gases aren't reduced, a new study warns. Poised to vanish: Long Island lobsters and New York apples. What will thrive: smog, pollen, and floods. And, clearly, Claritin sales. [NYT] • An L.A.-to-London flight was diverted to JFK this morning because of a "suspicious passenger." Michael Chertoff's gut told him it was a harmless misunderstanding. [WNBC] • Shelly Silver still won't agree to bring the Assembly to the table for congestion-pricing talks — even as the desperate Mayor Bloomberg says he'll fly to Albany tomorrow. By now, we're just looking forward to Monday, when this mess will be over. [NYDN] • And, starting today, the MTA adds a "Mets express" to its 7 line: a one-stop service from midtown to Shea. It's just for an hour on game days, but funny thing: If they did it year-round, Willets Point might actually be habitable. [amNY]

Will Silver Make Bloomberg's Traffic Dream Come True? He Just Might, Says Spokesman

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This week's consensus has been that Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan is doomed because the legislature won't act in time to get the federal money, and that the legislature won't act in time because Shelly Silver isn't interested in playing ball. But are things changing? Today's Daily News reports that Silver late yesterday talked with both Governor Spitzer and State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, both congestion-pricing proponents, about the plan (separately, of course). And this morning we had an interesting conversation with Silver's spokesman. "To say he's willing to let this expire would not be an accurate thing to say," press secretary Dan Weiller told us. Oh, really? Hmm. —Alec Appelbaum Shelly Un-Congests Snag [NYDN] Earlier: Does Bloomberg Know His Congestion-Pricing Battle Is Lost?

Traffic Jam

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• The Feds are insistent on their Monday deadline for approval of Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan, the mayor says, and Shelly Silver's Assembly doesn't even have plans to reconvene to discuss it. Poor Mike. [NYT]

Does Bloomberg Know His Congestion-Pricing Battle Is Lost?

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Mayor Bloomberg spoke to the New York Building Congress this afternoon about the need to fund mass-transit improvements with the revenue from his congestion-pricing plan — and we've never seen him looking quite so gloomy. With seven days until Albany can either endorse or suffocate a bid for $400 million in federal start-up aid, Bloomberg began the address with his usual brio but wound down in obvious frustration. He downgraded his prepared text's "I believe the legislation will pass" to a meeker "I hope"; then, at the end, he croaked out a subdued "I need your help" before the applause. A source close to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, meantime, is talking up half-measure counterproposals and says the State Senate, allegedly in Bloomberg's corner, might not vote on the plan at all. We'd be depressed, too. —Alec Appelbaum Earlier: Daily Intel's coverage of Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan

Westchester Pol to Foil Mike's Plans?

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Uh-oh! Today's papers brought news of another nail in the coffin of Mayor Mike's big congestion-pricing plans: Westchester assemblyman Richard Brodsky's report deeming Bloomberg's proposal unworkable in its current form. There's only a week left for the legislature to act before the federal deadline to apply for some $400 million in start-up funds, and Brodsky's report is just one more, uh, roadblock. Could an Albany scold destroy our billionaire's big dreams? Actually, maybe not. Brodsky praised Bloomberg's gumption at this spring's public hearings on the plan, and he's told us in phone interviews that he admires any effort to improve mass transit — which money from congestion pricing would do.

Just Say No

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• Hidden among other traffic-reducing measures in New York's application for federal congestion-pricing funds is a doozy: Just Stay Home. One of the proposed changes is "telecommuting as a travel demand management strategy." [Metro NY] • The Post, firmly on Joe's side in the Bruno-Spitzer battle, reports that Spitzer's aides pretty much begged anyone with a badge to investigate the state senator (including, unsuccessfully, "at least one New York City D.A." — how many of those do we have?). [NYP] • Despite "experts" insisting that the Bancroft-Murdoch deal is done, the Dow Jones board will be meeting with Ron Burkle today. In the meantime, Journal defections start: A top editor is moving to Business Week. [NYT] • The first week the new noise regulations were in effect prove one thing: We're a city of nasty little tattletales. The top complaint to 311 — almost half of the calls — concerned not construction clatter or Mister Softee but noisy neighbors. [NYDN] • And here's a free mobile service that puts Google Maps to shame. Should you ever find yourself lost in the Manhattan grid with nowhere to relieve yourself, mizpee.com will send you the address of the "closest, cleanest" restroom. You know, in case you lose the ability to walk into a hotel lobby on your own. [NYDN]

No Congestion Pricing, But...

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• So Mayor Mike struck out on his congestion-pricing deal as Albany ended the legislative session. But while that plan got all the attention, Bloomberg got a slew of other projects passed: a child-care tax credit, a corporate tax slash, and more state funds for public housing. Huh. [NYP] • Dozens of pissed-off New Yorkers are being bussed to D.C. for a congressional hearing about the Feds’ performance monitoring air quality at ground zero. Jerry Nadler will be the congressman first to grill ex–EPA head Christine Todd Whitman. [amNY] • What Sunday’s pride parade may have lacked in middle-aged, middle-class gays, it more than made up for in a newly prominent demographic: religious groups. Jews, Roman Catholics, Buddhists, and others came dangerously close, in the words of a reveler, to “hijacking the parade.” [WCBS] • The weekend brought a mass gang arrest in Bushwick — 32 kids, the youngest 13 years old, collared on their way to attend a murdered friend’s wake. The gang is supposedly an offshoot of the Bloods, colorfully dubbed the Pretty Boy Family. [NYT] • And now that Fred Thompson seems to be a viable presidential candidate, let’s get all our political advice from Law & Order cast members. Sam Waterston — a.k.a. A.D.A. Jack McCoy — is also the face of the libertarian-flavored online movement Unity08, and he's ready to vote Bloomberg. [NYDN]

To Run or Not to Run

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• As Mayor Bloomberg continues to deny that he's running for president, the Times reports that his top aides have been testing that scenario for the last two years. Just a coincidence! [NYT] • With mere hours left until the legislative session ends, Governor Spitzer is leaning on Shelly Silver to consider congestion pricing. Spitzer's bold step: to "discuss creating a commission of experts." Ooh, effective! [NYS] • In Episode 4,387 of the McGreevey soap opera, the ex-gov filed new papers with a New Jersey family court — to dismiss Dina Matos's charge that his coming-out had traumatized their daughter. [NYP] • Despite some politicians' calls for a rent freeze, the Rent Guidelines Board has recommended increases "between 2 and 4.5 percent" (in other words, 4.5 percent) on New York's stabilized apartments. [amNY] • And a guy goes on the lam for violating probation, gets tracked down by U.S. marshals right here in Manhattan, fights the arrest, breaks his arm, and goes to jail. That the guy is a close friend of Bernard Kerik's shouldn't be much of a shock. [NYDN]

Shelly Steals Mike's Big Day

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Is today Mike Bloomberg's big, free-at-last day of victory? Hardly. Tally up the politics of the last 24 hours, and a different man comes out on top: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the most powerful man in New York most New Yorkers won't recognize. Late Monday, for instance, Assembly Democrats have gathered for a three-hour meeting to discuss Bloomberg's push for congestion pricing in Manhattan. Yesterday, the Post reports, many of Shelly's pols then pronounced the plan "likely dead for good." This is the man, remember, who killed the West Side Stadium and any number of Pataki's proposals. But right now it seems nothing's quite, finally dead till the legislative session ends on Thursday night — so it seems that Mayor Mike will spend at least a part of his first day as an even-more-non-presidential candidate on the phone, being nice to Shelly Silver. As the Times puts it in a well-timed front-page profile today, "Even popular New York City mayors must approach him on bended knee." Billionaires included. Mike's Auto-Cratic Plan 'Dead For Good': Pols [NYP] Silver Wields Power by Keeping Albany Guessing [NYT]

Shelly Silver Loves Gays, Traffic; Joe Bruno Hates Both

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Who'd have thunk it. Just shy of a year after New York's top court ruled against same-sex marriages, the Assembly, today's Sun tells us, is set to pass legislation allowing it, making New York only the second state in which a legislative body has done so, after California. (Schwarzenegger vetoed California's bill; same-sex marriage in Massachusetts was ordered by the courts, not the legislature.) Shelly Silver hasn't taken a public stand on the question, but he's considered likely to vote for the measure, which is believed to have enough votes to pass. Spitzer has also said he'll sign. But don't book the catering hall yet, Mary: Joe Bruno and his Senate Republicans are, naturally, opposed. Which will no doubt doom the measure this year. Meantime, in the other big legislative news we city folk care about — well, aside from Times reporter Nick Confessore's limited nightlife options — it's Bruno and the Spitz who favor congestion pricing, and Silver's who's gonna hold up that one, it looks like. Gotta love Albany. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Assembly Set to Approve Gay Marriage [NYS]

Shelly Silver Comes to Bury Congestion Pricing

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• As expected, Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plan might come to a halt at Shelly Silver's Assembly desk. Silver's steering committee called the idea "unpassable" yesterday. [NYP] • A federal judge has just reversed his own ban on NYPD's videotaping of protesters. He had previously ruled that the taping must have a "law enforcement purpose" other than political monitoring, which made all kinds of sense to us. [amNY] • JPMorgan Chase will move 6,000 New York City employees downtown, to a new tower on the current Deutsche Bank site. The old we're-going-to-Connecticut threat worked: The city is showering the company with perks and tax breaks to make the move. [NYDN] • The Times continues its bizarre pattern of subtly torpedoing Barack Obama with nonstories about his acquaintances, this time tying the candidate to a possibly unsavory businessman even as it admits "there is no sign that Mr. Obama … did anything improper." [NYT] • And police commish Ray Kelly wants $40 million worth of radiation sensors installed around the city, on highways, bridges, tunnels, and so on. Just, you know, in case. [Newsday]

Jersey Boys

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• So some TV show had its finale last night? Depending on whom you believe, the ending was either terrible ("Chase will have to live with what he did last night," says Stasi in the Post), simply mediocre ("It didn't end," says Bianculli in the News. "It just stopped"), or a near-ideal conclusion to the series ("a perfectly imperfect finish," according to Heffernan in the Times). We're just wondering: How many people started calling Time Warner, convinced their cable had gone out? [NYP, NYDN, NYT]

Mayor Mike Is Cruising Toward a Traffic-Fee Win

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Okay, we're prepared to make a prediction: Marvelous Mike Bloomberg is going to win his congestion-pricing battle. Spitzer and the Bush administration are both on his side, State Senate leader Joe Bruno has said nice things, and at the Assembly hearing on his plan — held today at the Bar Association Building in midtown, and the only hearing scheduled on the matter before the legislative session ends later this month — Bloomberg more than held his own. He successfully parried the major misgivings about the plan — that its costs would mostly fall on moderate-income 718-ers and that its cameras would compromise personal privacy — and urged the state to join his bid for some $400 million in federal setup funds before the late-summer deadline.

Bloomberg Wins Big Ally, Loses Councilman in Traffic Fight

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As the battle over congestion pricing builds toward hearings in the State Assembly at the end of this week, the MTA — a state agency not always on the same page as City Hall — is starting to look like a Bloomberg ally. At a hobnobbers' breakfast this morning, MTA chief Elliott Sander offered his warmest words yet for what he adroitly renamed "value pricing." Staring at potential operating deficits of more than $1 billion annually by 2010, Sander acknowledged the plan's alluring promise of revenue and predicted that his agency could "align demand with supply" to accommodate riders who ditch their cars.

Will Tax-Happy Georgians Foil Bloomberg's Traffic Plans?

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Don't count on Bloomberg's congestion-pricing plans quite yet, you northern city-slickers. Seems the great state of Georgia might beat us to the federal money the mayor is counting on to fund the implementation of his plan. Outside a New School forum on urban issues this morning, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin gently told us that her suburban neighbors in Fulton and DeKalb Counties have already voted to join Atlanta in expanding a tax to fund rapid transit, and Washington demands cities show proof of matching funds to get this federal money. "That puts us at the top of the list for federal funding," Mayor Franklin explained. "Our local people are willing to tax themselves, and that's a big hit in Washington." Albany, meantime, has yet to give Bloomberg the money he needs to show the Feds we're all on the same page. "If Atlanta is the economic hub of the state, the state has to take leadership on public transit," Franklin said. "And you could make the same argument in New York." Hey, we're trying. —Alec Appelbaum Earlier: PlaNYC Fine Print: Waiting for Albany