Distribution of vehicles entering Manhattan CBD by direction and pricing status (Zupan & Perrotta, 2003).
In an op/ed piece in Monday's Daily News, Brooklyn-based transportation consultant Brian Ketcham proposed some changes to Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan. Ketcham, who has been pushing for some form of congestion pricing since his time working for the Lindsay Administration more than 30 years ago, argues that New York City should:
- Put tolls on the free East River Bridges.
- Move the pricing zone's northern boundary down to 60th Street.
- Eliminate all free and long-term street parking and charge hefty garage rates at on-street meters inside the Central Business District.
It is not surprising to see the idea of East River bridge tolls popping up right now. Prior to Mayor Bloomberg's Long-Term Sustainability announcement in April, virtually everyone who was doing serious thinking about New York City traffic reduction was
focused on the 170,000+ vehicles traveling over the free East River bridges each day.
In July 2003, Ketcham and economist Charles Komanoff published, The Hours, a study that found that tolling the free East River Bridges would "do away with more than 9% of the idle time that motorists, truckers and bus riders now lose in traffic tie-ups throughout New York City" with significant congestion reductions in the outer boroughs, in particular.
Earlier that year, Komanoff also published "Who Will Really Pay," a study that found commuters who drive to work over the East River bridges earn, on average, $14,300/year more than those who don't drive to work over a free bridge (download it here).
A September 2003 Transportation Alternatives study of East River bridge tolls by Bruce Schaller made similar findings. Schaller also noted the difficult "political realities" of tolling the bridges.
In November of 2003, Jeff Zupan and Alexis Perrotta at the Regional Plan Association published a study that tested four different congestion pricing scenarios, all of which included some form of East River bridge tolls (download it here). One of their models found, "At the East River bridges traffic would drop by about 25 percent, likely leading to the virtual elimination of congestion at those crossings," as well as "relief on local streets" and "less traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway."
With all of that in mind, here is Ketcham's Daily News editorial, re-printed in full: