City residents may be lukewarm to the concept of congestion pricing, but with hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation funding hanging in the balance, supporters of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s plan to charge drivers to enter Manhattan are taking their case to the people.
A coalition of transportation advocates, labor and other non-profit groups will begin a television and print advertising campaign in March designed to urge commuters to visit their new website and learn more about why New Yorkers, and their elected officials, should find congestion pricing to be a worthy program.
Originally, Bloomberg’s plan called for charging vehicles $8 and commercial vehicles $21 to enter Manhattan during peak driving hours on weekdays below 86th Street. In January the 17-member Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission charged with considering a variety of congestion pricing methods put forward several alternatives, including a modification of the original plan that moves the pricing zone’s northern border to 60th Street.
With the legislative deadline for congestion pricing set for March 31, the ad campaign represents the final public push of a well-funded transit movement that many have been skeptical of since it launched last April. That skepticism aside, congestion pricing supporters hope New Yorkers take the message of the ads to heart: act now for transit improvements or pay forever.
“Congestion pricing is the best way to prepare this growing, dynamic city for a future with a million more people by 2030,” said Ramon Cruz of Environmental Defense. “By offering every New Yorker a fast, environmentally sound commute, we can tackle the twin challenges of climate change and economic justice. With our city’s population growing and our streets and subways already overcrowded, now is the time act.”