Monday, May 18, 2009

Even In New York City, People Use Cars

Matt Yglesias laments outer-borough NYC opposition to congestion pricing, claiming this is counter to their constituents interests since "the population in the outer boroughs is mostly low-income and mostly takes transit into the city". It's worth pointing out at this juncture that lots of people in New York City still drive cars. Trasnit commuters account for 50% of all commuters in Queens, 56% in the Bronx, and 60% in Brooklyn. That's certainly more than almost anywhere else in America, but from a political perspective it's a bare majority; you would have to get every transit rider in an election to vote for you, or convince some car commuters that the congenstion pricing will endu p benefiting them. Even if income level didn't have an effect on voting rates, district lines for State Assemblymen probably put several representatives in constituencies with fewer subway/bus riders than car drivers.

(Photo of cars stuck in traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge from Tom Holbrook)


Dennis said...

This is misleading too, of course -- congestion pricing would affect only those commuters who commute by car to midtown, rather than to some outer-borough destination. In particular, outer-borough residents who work in manhattan are the most likely transit users. You can kind of see this in the table you linked -- in Queens, auto commuters work about 50/50 in county and out, but transit commuters are 2-1 out of county. So even if commuting is still about half in cars, the chunk of that that's into the area that matters is smaller than the transit there.

BruceMcF said...

Plus ... for large numbers of car commuters, congestion pricing will benefit them.

There are three groups, of unknown size. Those whose time is more valuable than their money (1), those whose money is more valuable than their time who refuse to use transit (2), and those whose money is more valuable than their time who would use transit if its quality was improved (3).

(1) and (3) contain winners from congestion pricing to subsidize transit ... plus, of course, existing transit users.

And there is the fourth group, which is certainly substantial, the motorists who do not pay anything directly because they do not drive on the streets that face congestion pricing ... but who will gain less traffic congestion in outer boroughs if transit quality improves. They benefit as long as they prefer less congestion to more congestion.

Ajlouny said...

Congestion pricing is such a bad idea. First of all, the congestion alone is enough to make driving in the city during the week so bad that you would only do it if you absolutely had to. It may reduce a bit of congestion at first, but only temporarily until richer people just fill in the gap. Just like how rental prices in Manhattan have risen to ridiculous amounts, so now mostly the rich live here. But the worst part of the plan is that our mass transit is already over capacity. There’s no room right now for any additional people on the subways.