[flickr: darren bryden]
Congestion pricing schemes, touted as environmentally-responsible at the time of $4 gas, were defeated in New York City last Spring. However, as the market turmoil threatens to wreak havoc on tax revenues, fiscal necessity has lured New York State and New York City politicians to re-examine the political viability of charging tolls to drivers entering Manhattan.
The NY Times City Room blog discusses the history of tolling on New York City’s East River bridges, but much of that history features plans to reinstate tolling and the popular resistance to those plans. How East River Bridges Stayed Toll-Free:
On numerous occasions, politicians have tried to reinstitute tolls on the four bridges — the Brooklyn (completed in 1883), Williamsburg (completed in 1903) and Manhattan and Queensboro (both completed in 1909). After all, the Brooklyn Bridge charged horse-drawn carriages a toll from the time it opened. But by the Depression, the tolls were a thing of the past.
The history shows that officials have failed again and again to revive tolls on the four bridges. (Other major crossings, including the bridges run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, already charge tolls.)
Tolling being “the third rail of of New York City politics”, it will be hard enough to institute in the face of voter sympathy for road socialism. So, we shouldn’t hold our breath for the ideal solution, full privatization of the bridges and transit, but tolling may be a step in the market direction. Or is it??
Is tolling just away for politicians to let themselves off the hook for their irresponsibility, and will just result in another new tax? Or can we hope it will soften the resistance to market-based solutions.
[thanks to loyal Market Urbanism reader, Benjamin Hemric for the tip]