New Quinnipiac Poll Measures Opinion on Congestion Pricing

Quinnipiac has a new survey out this morning showing that 90 percent of New Yorkers feel that traffic is a "serious problem" but a majority of voters, by a 56 to 37 percent margin, oppose Mayor Bloomberg's plan to charge $8 to drive in to Manhattan south of 86th Street. The poll also shows a significant gap between Manhattan voters, who support the Mayor's plan by a margin of 62 percent, and survey respondents in the other four boroughs. 

While the new survey will be viewed by some as a sign that the traffic relief plan is politically impossible, it is worth noting that compared to public opinion in London and Stockholm prior to the launch of those cities' congestion pricing systems, opposition among New York City voters and criticism in the local press appears to be far less intense.

Before its implementation in Stockholm, Sweden, a survey showed that 80 percent of Stockholm residents were opposed to the idea of congestion pricing. After a seven month trial from January to July 2006, 53 percent of Stockholm residents voted to keep the city's congestion charging system in place.

Likewise, prior to the start of London's successful congestion pricing system, newspaper headlines screaming "Ken-gestion!" and "Carmageddon!" The January 8, 2003 edition of the Guardian predicted, "The scheme will be condemned as a failure within days, perhaps hours, of it starting. The senior officials in Transport for London will be named and shamed. Livingstone will be told he must resign."  Yet, after three years of congestion pricing, Transport for London surveys showed that more than 70 per cent of Londoners said the system was effective and twice as many supported the charge as opposed it.

Here are the highlights from today's poll:

New York City traffic is a "very serious" problem, 59 percent of city voters say, while 31 percent say traffic is "somewhat serious," according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

But voters, including mass transit users, oppose 56 - 37 percent a congestion pricing proposal where drivers would be charged $8 to drive a car into Manhattan below 86th Street, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

Manhattan voters support congestion pricing 62 - 29 percent. Voters in other boroughs are opposed to the proposal:

    * 67 - 26 percent in The Bronx;
    * 63 - 29 percent in Brooklyn;
    * 61 - 32 percent in Queens;
    * 69 - 26 percent in Staten Island.

By a 3 - 1 margin, 68 - 23 percent, New York City voters say they use mass transit, rather than a car, to travel into and out of Manhattan. Car drivers oppose congestion pricing 59 - 34 percent while mass transit users oppose it 53 - 40 percent.

 New York City voters split 45 - 46 percent on whether they agree with a principal assumption behind congestion pricing, that traffic costs them billions of wasted dollars every year. Manhattan voters agree with the premise while voters in the other boroughs disagree.

Voters agree, 59 - 36 percent, that congestion pricing would tax unfairly people who live outside Manhattan. Again, Manhattan voters are out of touch with voters in the other boroughs.

If there were congestion pricing, taxicabs should be exempt, voters say 56 - 39 percent. On other possible exemptions, New York City voters:

    * Oppose 59 - 36 percent exemptions for personal vehicles;
    * Oppose 70 - 26 percent exemptions for limousines;
    * Support 49 - 45 percent exemptions for delivery trucks.

From May 15 - 21, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,018 New York City registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.