I suppose I have to be a bit circumspect about commenting on local New York City politics, given that I am a relatively recent arrival in the city. But I am completely behind Bloomberg’s announced congestion pricing for downtown Manhattan. Anything that will reduce the smog and traffic downtown is a good thing.
There are plenty of arguments against the fee. To be honest, most of the traffic I see consists of a mix of yellow cabs and towncars, both which would be exempt from the fee. But the move to more hybrid cabs makes this at least a bit better. And after all, these are forms of quasi-public transportation. One of the major complaints is that this amounts to a regressive tax, making it only possible to drive in New York if you are rich. I really don’t know many people who can afford to drive in New York if they aren’t already rich–parking is already so difficult that it doesn’t make much sense. I think there is something to the argument, but not much. Even the very wealthy are generally smart enough not to keep cars in the city.
I also think they should exempt low-emissions vehicles from the fee. This may already be part of the plan, but I haven’t seen anything about it. (There’s a nice discussion over on WorldChanging NYC.) If you are driving an electric or natural-gas powered vehicle, this should be encouraged. And for those hybrids that have significantly reduced emissions, I think there should also be an exemption or reduction in fee.
Finally, no word in this article about the proposed opening of the East River to seaplane traffic. I really hope they allow for this, as it provides another route into and out of the city. I can absolutely see a healthy (although not necessarily for the environment) commuter plane business operating out of the East River.