Doomsday budget resurrects congesting pricing idea

December 17, 2009 5:32:12 AM PST
The MTA's Doomsday budget is a grim reality this morning. And that could trigger the return of another controversial transit plan -- congestion pricing for drivers in Manhattan.There's talk in Albany and City Hall of a bailout for the MTA but there's no money for it.

That's opening the way for a new push to impose congestion pricing.

"There is a frustration that people have that we are paying more and more and getting less and less," said one disgruntled straphanger.

The service slashing approved by the MTA Wednesday included the elimination of the W and Z trains, cuts to 21 bus routes, some to be eliminated all together, severe limits on access a ride passes for senior citizens, and the phase out of student bus passes.

That will force children to pay for their own transportation to school, for some, a thousand dollars a year or more.

"Honestly I couldn't get to school and I also feel a bit angry. There's a few other ways the MTA can tackle this," said student David Belnap.

"The state and city should be funding school transit passes, those obviously cannot go away. It's not a burden that the MTA should be shouldering," explained Neysa Pranger of the Regional Plan Association.

Wednesday the Governor said he would find a way to fund student bus passes, but that doesn't fix the larger problem of funding the MTA.

One idea that is resurfacing is congestion pricing, the concept of making anyone who wants to drive in most of Manhattan, pay big money for the privilege, which would raise more than half a billion dollars a year, much of it for the MTA.

"It's happening other places around the world. People are embracing the technology, it's something that's going to come to New York and we should think about doing it sooner rather than later," said Pranger.