Can mass transit handle traffic fee?

April 2, 2008 4:22:42 PM PDT
As lawmakers in Albany get set to take up the issue of congestion pricing, there is one big question looming in the city. With the trains and buses already overcrowded, how will the system handle even more passengers?

Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Rossen has some answers.

The thinking is that people won't want to pay the congestion pricing fee, so they will turn to the buses and subways. The MTA says there is a plan.

It is undeniable. Mass transit is at its breaking point. There are too many people, too few trains and not enough track to fit them.

"We're like sardines," one rider said. "Packed. Can't move."

"Sometimes you have to wait two or three trains to pass you to get on the train," another said.

So while charging people to drive in an effort to help the environment and ease congestion may sound like a good idea, all those people have to get to work somehow. And so the maxed-out subways and buses are in for a spike.

"It's now already bad, so I don't know how they're going to make it work more effectively with a lot more people traveling," one straphanger said.

So we went to the source. Jeremy Soffin is with the MTA.

"Now what we've done is, we've designed a series of improvements," he said. "And we think it's going to be able to handle the increase."

The MTA will add service on the lines it thinks will be the most impacted, namely No. 1, E and F trains. They will also add cars to existing trains on the C line.

"How about all of them, period, since we're paying more every month for metro cards," one rider told us.

As for the buses, the MTA plans to add 12 new routes, city-wide. Three of them are in the Bronx, three more in Brooklyn and six in Queens. They will also add buses all over the city, with 309 new buses on order.

"We're guaranteeing that if this is passed, the money comes from Washington and we will have that service in place before congestion pricing is implemented," Soffin said.

All the new services will be paid for with federal money that will only be awarded if congestion pricing is approved.