Roadblock for Congestion Pricing
By Paul Moses
A new poll by the Quinnipiac College Polling Institute exposes the idea of "congestion pricing" - charging drivers to enter Manhattan - as the Manhattan-centric idea it is.
The findings, released Jan. 18, note that New York City voters reject the proposal by a 2-to-1 margin, even though most recognize traffic congestion as a serious problem. Residents of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx opposed it by overwhelming margins - 68 percent to 24 percent in Brooklyn. Only Manhattanites supported it, and by a narrow margin, 48 percent to 43 percent.
A solid majority (57 percent to 37 percent) also agreed that congestion pricing would "unfairly tax people who live outside Manhattan." Residents of the four larger boroughs (which some people still insist on calling "outer" boroughs) thought so by huge margins. Again, Manhattanites see it differently.
The notion of putting tolls on the East River bridges took an even greater thrashing in the poll; 78 percent called it a "bad idea" and 17 percent said it was a good idea. The margin was biggest in Brooklyn, where 84 percent of those surveyed said it was a bad idea.
The poll is a sign that no matter how much the influential supporters of congestion pricing lobby City Hall, issue costly studies and work their contacts with editorial boards and reporters, they won't succeed. The divide between Manhattan and the larger boroughs remains a basic fact of New York political life, even if Manhattan-centric wonks and news media often fail to see it.
Paul Moses is director of the Center for the Study of Brooklyn and a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY.