Wheezing Over Congestion Pricing

The congestion pricing debate is coming to an end, and the plan looks doomed--just how doomed the plan is depends on which tabloid you're reading during your long commute. The Daily News calls it a "MAKE OR BREAK TIME FOR FEE IDEA" in their story about the deadlock in Albany, while the Post blames Bloomberg, lamenting that "Defiant Mike dooms conge$tion bid: pols." The Daily News supports the plan, running an editorial Sunday urging the legislature to pass the plan. The Post today has an editorial asking the Assembly and Senate to kill the bill, as it is "a once-promising idea that, sad to say, seems not to have survived the political sausage-grinder in anything resembling a fair or workable form."

There must have been a template for how to cover this story, as both of our papers following the same pattern: a rundown of what's stalled in Albany accompanied with a "how this affects me" piece featuring a regular "Joe Shmoe" who drives to work. What is interesting here is that each of these "man on the street" pieces seems to be in the wrong paper.

The Daily News introduces us to a bar owner who lives in Rockaway Park but who works in Manhattan. Going the gimmicky route, the News has him take the subway from Queens to the East Side bar he manages, on 53rd Street. The commute takes one hour and 46 minutes and features three transfers. The Post doesn't send any car commuters on a quest, but instead asks three of them what they will do if congestion pricing passes. The first commuter is unsympathetic in a bit of a "let them eat cake" way, as she complains about the amount of transfers she would have if she took mass transit from her home in Ardsley. Granted, this is an actual issue, but when you learn that the car is a BMW, you may roll your eyes. Apparently her Beemer is a work necessity. Another driver who heads into the city twice a week via car thinks the plan is "ridiculous." Finally, one driver admits that he'll cut out his once-a-week drive into the city if the plan takes effect. What is especially jarring is what these people pay for parking: $33 for a half-hour? If that doesn't get you to take mass transit, than maybe nothing will.


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