Testimony of Kate Slevin
Traffic Mitigation Commission Hearing
October 25, 2007

My name is Kate Slevin and I am the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit advocacy group working for a more equitable and environmentally-sound transportation system in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

 Here’s what we will give up if we don’t approve congestion pricing:

  •  $354 million in federal dollars for transit improvements, including:

    • $213.6M for improvements to bus depots, improved pedestrian walkways, upgrading park-n-ride locations, technology to improve traffic flow at intersections;
    • $112.7M to begin Bus Rapid Transit throughout the City;
    • $15.8M for regional ferry service;
    • $10.4M for technology needed to implement congestion pricing, such as cameras;  

  • 367 new buses and faster bus service
  • Faster commutes
  • Cleaner air
  • Less congested streets that are safer for walking and biking

And perhaps most importantly, we will be giving up a more equitable transportation system. Lower income households and less likely to own a car and more likely to rely on public transit.

 For example, a new analysis of Census data (available in fact sheets on our website at tstc.org) shows that in all but one Assembly District within New York City, the average income of households with access to a car is 50% higher than for households without access to a car, and in nearly half of districts, average income is twice as high. 

In other words, the data is clear. Congestion pricing is progressive policy.  

The opponents of congestion pricing are stuck in the past. They are scared of change and maintaining the lack of environmental awareness indicative of the last century. The proponents are looking forward, to a greener, more livable, more sustainable society, where people can’t drive into the densest urban center in our country, polluting, congesting our collective environment, for free. Congestion pricing is a vital part of that future. If we fail on this, it will be a step backwards for New York and our children’s future.

We strongly urge the Commission to support congestion pricing as part of its strategy to reduce traffic congestion and for our elected leaders to look to the future, not stay stuck in the past.