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Too many questions

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing for approval of his congestion pricing plan for Manhattan before the March 31 deadline. However, even the deadline is wrong and has been changed to April 7. The U.S. Transportation Department originally set its deadline for awarding the city $354.5 million at 90 days from the start of the legislative session in Albany, which was January 9.
We have written against this plan from day one. The most glaring red flag is that it does not guarantee any or all of the funds raised from the congestion pricing fees and penalties will, in fact, fund the MTA capital plan. More questions … no answers.
We have called the federal money “Fool’s Gold,” and we stand by that assessment. Sure, the lion’s share of the $354.5 million will go to fund new bus depots, park and ride lots and pedestrian improvements - $213.6 million to be exact. $112.7 million would be earmarked for new rapid-transit buses and an additional $15.8 million for ferry improvements. However, only $10.4 million can be used to start up Bloomberg’s plan.
Where are the rest of the estimated hundreds of millions to set up and maintain the system year after year going to come from? More questions … no answers.
In these pages last week, Bloomberg wrote about how he was going to protect the communities near the congestion pricing zone with residential parking permits. He proposed that they could be in effect for a mere 90 minutes a day, say from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and he added in that way, the “restrictions would be so brief that they would not unreasonably inconvenience drivers coming into the parking permit zone to shop or do business.” More questions … no answers.
Who will enforce these permits? The police do not have the manpower. Suppose people give up using a shopping strip during the hours. Are the merchants supposed to close down for 90 minutes? Will those same merchants want to send all their employees out to lunch during that time? Lunch at 10 a.m.? More questions … no answers.
Drivers who do not have E-ZPass tags must pay their tax to the city within 48 hours - or they will be slapped with a $65 penalty and the fine for one infraction could go as high as $140. Have you ever tried to mail a payment to anybody in two days?
More questions … no answers.
We have warned that this plan is flawed - fatally flawed. We are sure its end goal of reducing the air pollution in Manhattan could realistically be achieved by enforcing the existing laws and regulations with the help of additional traffic enforcement officers.
We implore our politicians to keep us from becoming stuck in a quagmire of bureaucracy that is ill-conceived and poorly planned. Let us not set up two cities - one of the privileged who can afford the fees and one for the rest of us who will not be able to afford to drive into the city anymore.

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