Much of the 2021 Regional Plan Association symposium revolved around transportation and how various cities in the world address the challenge. We learned with stupefaction that Singapore Transit  is profitable with a combination of congestion pricing with real time price adjustments based on actual speed on the road, and a car Certificate of Entitlement, with fewer and fewer of those are granted and of which the price is established by auction: currently $ 80,000 for a 10 year permit. How smart of this nation to adjust to constrain the demand to the road capacity! Would we ever be so gutsy in New York city to apply market based solutions to car usage?

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said last month that funding transit adequately is “one of the biggest challenges we face.” … “and offer a roadmap for placing the MTA on more stable financial footing and safeguarding our region’s economic future”. In his speech, Stringer suggests the creation of a New York City transit trust funded by revenue streams from the Mortgage Recording Tax (existing) and a revived Commuter Tax ( it was eliminated in 1999) . He envisions  more bus rapid transit lines, like the ones that run along First and Second Avenues, light rail on 42nd street, and connecting Red Hook Brooklyn to the Navy Yard, an AirTrain to LaGuardia and an “X” subway line connecting Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, plus the pay down of the crushing debt load that burdens the MTA today.

Another suggestion making the rounds is an Equitable Transportation Formula Plan  or “congestion pricing”  by Sam Schwartz Engineering of “Gridlock Sam ” fame. I sometime wonder would we have so much gridlock today if he had not invented the word? He would reduce tolls on non Manhattan bridges, add tolls to Manhattan bridges , make alternate routes revenue neutral, and  charge all users including bicycles.

It is good to see influent brains working on these issues. In 1990, at the eve of the Internet revolution, the founder of Sun micro systems said “the network is the computer”. In New York City, Transit is the engine of the economy ( much more that Real Estate). Our politicians need all to get on with the program.


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