Azara Blog: New York state rejects New York City "congestion charge"

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Date published: 2008/04/09

The BBC says:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to ease transport gridlock in Manhattan with a congestion charge has been blocked by the state's assembly.

The scheme would have charged most drivers $8 to enter the city's centre between 0600 and 1800 on weekdays.

New York will now forfeit a $354m federal grant intended to kick-start the initiative, which aimed to persuade drivers to use public transport.

The assembly rejected the plan after days of closed-door negotiations.

This proposed new tax would have been an access charge, not a congestion charge, so similar to London. The fact that its proponents cannot even be honest about the name already tells you they are up to no good. But the reason this lost is not because the proponents were dishonest, but because the people who were going to suffer (i.e. the ordinary people of the area, in particular those who do not live in Manhattan) were represented in the assembly (although many were not, e.g. the residents of New Jersey). The reason the London scheme went ahead is because the ordinary people had no say.

It is interesting that the federal bribe seems to have been one of the main arguments put forward as to why this new tax was a good idea. (Well, there are also the usual spurious environmental reasons, which are really all about kicking ordinary people off the roads so that rich people like Bloomberg can get about more easily.) In the same way, the people who want to put a similar scheme in place in Cambridge (England) are using a supposed bribe from central government to justify their scheme. Unbelievably the proposed bribe in Cambridge is allegedly of the order of 500 million pounds, i.e. a billion dollars, so three times what the US federal government was going to bribe New York City with, even though the population of the New York City area is around fifty or a hundred times what that of the Cambridge area is. So in reality the New York City bribe was pathetically small beer, and the Cambridge bribe is ridiculously large, and unlikely to ever manifest itself (at such a high level).

(These schemes are also incredibly inefficient to run. The London scheme makes money only because of penalty notices. So the net "benefit" to the economy is almost certainly negative. Even if you hate cars, this is a bad tax. But hey, why let common sense get in the way of the spite of the ruling elite.)

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