Monday, March 31, 2008

Congestion Pricing's Fate Being Decided Now

It may not be the only hurdle for the controversial bill but the New York City Council is deciding if it will pass through their jurisdiction this afternoon. The proposal needs the blessing of the state as well but those prospects look good so far. The conventional wisdom here is that Quinn called the vote today because she came up with the votes. And how might she have gotten that sudden courage?

From The Gothamist:

Mayor Bloomberg appears to have the necessary votes to get congestion pricing passed in the City Council, because the Council scheduled a vote on the matter for this afternoon. The fact a vote has been suddenly scheduled is interpreted as a sign that fellow supporter Council Speaker Christine Quinn has enough votes for approval. The Mayor must have spent his weekend bending ears and twisting arms!

A critical amendment was made to the statewide version of the bill over the weekend that may have changed minds. According to the NY Sun, the congestion pricing plan will be linked to a $1 billion contribution from the Port Authority to the MTA's five-year capital spending budget. The funds from the Port Authority, a joint NY-NJ state agency, allayed some concerns New Jersey residents wouldn't be paying as much as New Yorkers traveling into Manhattan.

There's nothing quite like the sound of "one billion dollars" to help switch a few crucial votes your way. Getting the PANY/NJ to cough that up must have taken some serious arm twisting in of itself. We'll see what the final vote is shortly, but this thing should be in the bag as far as NYC goes.