Will Congestion Pricing mean the End to Parking Garages in New York City?


Will Congestion Pricing mean the End to Parking Garages in New York City?

New York City is moving relentlessly toward Congestion Pricing. The deal is that if you drive into Manhattan below 60th street, you will have to pay a charge, around $10. It will be collected by LPR cameras or toll tags, or whatever.

Reading articles in the Old Grey Lady, it seems that this idea has been floated for over a decade but has gained traction because the wise leaders in Albany have noticed that the plan would collect over one billion a year. Suddenly everyone is excited.

Note that no one seemed to keen on the idea when the issue was just reducing congestion. But whatever…

The article in the NYT describes the plan and notes that the money will go to ‘fix’ New York’s subway system which has fallen into disrepair. It will be used as collateral for $15 billion to plow into the subway.

The city uses London as the poster child for this project saying that:

Within a year of the fees being charged in 2003, the number of vehicles entering an eight-square-mile area of London dropped by 18 percent, according to city officials. Traffic delays went down 30 percent. The average speed of vehicles in the zone rose to 10 miles per hour from 8.8 m.p.h.

OK, now we are getting somewhere. But read on.

And one important reminder is that even with congestion pricing, traffic problems do not simply go away. London’s gridlock has returned in recent years, in part because of an influx of Uber and other ride-app cars.

Yep – gridlock has returned to London, so they are instituting a second charge, an Ultra Low Emission Zone. If your car doesn’t meet certain emission standards, set by the EU, it will double the charge up to around $35 per entry. Wait til the folks running the congestion pricing program in the Big Apple hear about this. Who want’s to bet that the standard will be zero emissions. But I digress.

Naturally New Yorkers aren’t ecstatic about all this. They are demanding that those living in the five boroughs of New York City be exempted from the program, and of course each member of the NY legislature has their own constituency who should for one reason or other should be exempted. So, probably only those who will pay in the end are those who live in New Jersey or drive in from California.

People driving to Manhattan are used to paying $12 to use a tunnel or bridge. They are used to paying upwards of $25 a day to park if they rent in advance, and $50 for one offs. So they are already into this almost $40 a day. What’s another $12 bucks. Someone is going to pay if they expect to collect a billion.

In the end it didn’t really help congestion in London, and probably won’t help congestion in New York. But they will get their billion dollars and they can invest it in a subway whose management has been unable up to date to keep the system running smoothly. I can see that working out well.

An article behind the paywall at the Wall Street Journal screams that Congestion Pricing means the end to parking garages in New York City. If congestion, bridge tolls, high parking fees, and 90 minute commutes don’t do the job, I doubt $12 a day will frighten many drivers off. Our industry is safe in Manhattan.


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John Van Horn

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