Public hearings held on congestion pricing

Plan would need to be submitted by end of month
March 24, 2008 8:25:16 PM PDT
New Yorkers got a last chance Monday to weigh in on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial congestion pricing plan.During a marathon public hearing, people spoke out on both sides of the issue.

If the congestion pricing plan passes, drivers would be charged $8 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If the plan does not pass by the end of the month, the city could lose millions of dollars in federal funding.

Half of New York state's voters are opposed to congestion pricing, but some say they'd change their minds if they were convinced the traffic fee would be used to improve mass transit, according to a poll released Monday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has just a few weeks to persuade the City Council and state Legislature to approve the plan.

Supporters say the plan would reduce traffic and raise several billion dollars for mass transit; critics say the burden would fall unfairly on working class families.

When asked if they supported or opposed the plan, 50 percent of those polled said they opposed it, while 33 percent supported it, according to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

When asked if they would support congestion pricing if the money was used to improve mass transit, 60 percent said they would while 30 percent said no.

But 50 percent of respondents also said they thought it not too likely or not at all likely that the money would be used for that purpose; only 42 percent thought it somewhat or very likely the money would go toward mass transit.

The New York City Traffic Mitigation Commission proposal would charge fees to use streets south of - and including - 60th Street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday except on certain holidays.

On another issue, an overwhelming majority of those polled, 77 percent, supported a proposal to raise the state income tax paid by people who earn more than $1 million a year, while 19 percent opposed it.

The poll, conducted March 16-18, surveyed 1,528 registered voters in the state. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.