By Adam Kramer
As a suggestion for fixing some of the city’s economic woes, Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) called for an end to Manhattan’s single occupancy vehicle ban, which was implemented after the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
The ban prevents vehicles with fewer than two people from entering Manhattan on the five East River Crossings below 65th Street, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.
“The ban,” Weprin said, “is causing 190,000 fewer people to enter Manhattan’s central business district each day, while another 160,000 are not entering the city when the ban is not in effect since they are confused about the timing of the ban and are put off by the idea of the ban.”
Weprin said private studies by traffic guru Sam Schwartz and the Appleseed Company, which did studies for the NYC Olympic 2012 committee, show the ban is causing a “$1.5 billion annualized decline in economic activity in New York City.”
The study, “Toward a Safe and Sensible Transportation System,” released in January 2002 shows that an average of 238,000 fewer people entered the central business district in November 2001 than in October 2000. An astounding 80 percent of the reduction, or 190,000 people, would have come in by car, the study showed.
The single-occupancy vehicle restrictions have also caused the loss of 15,000 jobs and $210 million in city, state and public authority revenue, Weprin said, although he noted that the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel should still remain under the ban for security reasons.
“At a time when we are facing a budget deficit of $4 billion, it would be foolish to forgo the potential revenue,” said Weprin, the head of the city’s powerful finance committee.
State Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing), who is also the Central Labor Council president, said the ban and slower economic activity in Manhattan has caused the “loss of thousands of jobs.”