Still Falling Down

Still Falling Down

A chance to make the commuter tax productive

Mayor Bloomberg has used the financial crisis as an opportunity to once again bring up the issue of a commuter tax.

The State Assembly (read Sheldon Silver, who represents a district in NYC) is willing to consider the idea.
The State Senate (read Dean Skelos, who represents a Long Island district) appears unwilling to even discuss it.

I guess that leaves David Patterson as the tie-breaker.

While drastic spending cuts would be preferable to any tax increase, maybe we can come up with a commuter tax that isn’t a tax per se.

Let’s collect the commuter tax at the bridges, tunnels, and to a much lesser extent, on the suburban rail and bus lines.

I’ve mentioned this before, but let’s trot it out again.

Close the free Manhattan crossings inbound to private automobile traffic from 5AM to 3PM on weekdays. Force drivers in their own cars to pay to get into the city during working hours.
Increase the inbound toll on the remaining crossings to $40 during those times. This should be the main source of the commuter tax, and at the same time, create an incentive towards mass transit instead of the disincentive that exists now.
Eliminate on-street parking in Manhattan (below 135th Street) for private automobiles from 7AM to 8PM. Get the drivers who are willing to pay the higher toll into parking garages. Then hit them with an additional 10% sales tax on top of the existing sales tax. Manhattan residents who park monthly get a 100% exemption.

Add a 10% surcharge onto MTA and New Jersey Transit suburban line tickets coming into New York during those times. This should make up for the loss in tolls due to the increased prices, but not enough to offset the incentive.

Eliminate the outbound tolls. Get the vehicles out of Manhattan as quickly as possible.

The benefits to all this: Reduced traffic, which means lower costs for the movement of people and goods, cleaner air (reducing the cost of failing to meet federal pollution standards), reduced road maintenance costs, and best of all, fewer single-passenger SUVs blowing their horns at red lights.

I just loooove talking to myself.

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