I recently predicted Giambrone would be mayor of
Giambrone is looking for $6B over 15 years to fix
Wait. Did I just hear you think “it’s obvious congestion would be fixed by $6B in new transit”? It’s not obvious. You can’t fix congestion by building transit systems, any more than by building roads. You fix congestion by putting commuters onto transit. If you think those are two ways to say the same thing, then you’re dreaming bigger than me. Recall the old Irish proverb: “…a fool and his car are not easily parted.”
The $6B Giambrone plan is long overdue. Why we boomers had to wait for a 29 year old that looks 19 to explain this, I’ll never fathom. We really should be ashamed of ourselves, since Jane Jacobs, who predates boomers by 40 years, explained all this in 1961 in Chapter 18 of her Urbanist handbook The Death and Life of Great American Cities. In 1961 the oldest boomer on the planet was a pubescent 16. There is no excuse for the Waiting for Giambrone drama that has been playing on
And Giambrone’s plan only addresses pent-up demand – not the hot, gaseous future. Over the 15 years his plan would take to unfold
#1: If it now takes you 75 minutes for your round-trip commute each day, and we add 56% more cars to our roads, how long will it take you to make the same commute in 2022? Answer: on the order of 3 or 4 times longer. Once roads are filled past their capacity, the effect of congestion rises much faster than does the growth in the automobile population.
#2: It can be easily proven that the endgame for congestion is a 24 hour commute per day. So when are we going to start addressing it seriously?
#3: Which is farther away: 2022 or 1992? And you thought 2022 is too far away, to worry about, eh?]
By now some of you may be thinking: “Giambrone’s plan will absorb that extra 56%”. And I hope it does absorb that much. But if it did that, we would only land in 2022 in the same congested place we are in 2007 except with far larger potholes and less asphalt between them. Worse we’ll have only tiny cars to navigate those potholes because the SUVs needed for the perilous trek from
Ok, it is true that good transit (i.e., frequent, reasonably safe, comfortable, modestly priced and with a minimal number of transfers) attracts ridership. But the attraction of autonomous travel will always trump transit as long as transit-use and road-use are as mis-priced as they currently are.
Without a proper market pricing mechanism you cannot fairly apportion a scarce good – that would be road space in this column. You can ban cars on
Now you can’t effectively toll just
In a few weeks, I will work through a staged plan, available on this blog, to accomplish a market system interconnecting parking, road funding and transit funding. This will be self sustaining, fair and will not require begging for money from the other levels of government (although clearly
Phase 1: Allow parking payment via no-touch, GPS-based parking meters (these completely revolutionize parking management). Start reducing free-parking via legislating parking cash-outs and taxing the non-compliant.
Result: Noticeable increase in transit ridership. You may have to add a few buses. Revenue neutral. Greater convenience for motorists who continue driving.
Phase 2: Reduce parking management costs, increase parking revenue, and improve parking turnover with per-minute parking and accelerated payment structures in lieu of ticketing – i.e. after a fair parking period at a few cents per minute, the rate increases considerably, but no expensive, customer-abusing citations. Handle payments with the hands-free GPS meters in Phase 1.
Result: 50% increase in net parking revenue. Further increase in transit ridership. Add more buses.
Phase 3: Reward motorists who do not move their vehicles during peak hours with parking credits. Further reduce free parking by uniformly and aggressively enforcing ONE-HOUR and THREE-HOUR free parking. Start metering non-resident parking in residential areas. Handle compliant payments with the Phase 1 meters (meter users are citation-proof unlike now). Adjust on-street parking rates to meet Donald Shoup’s 85% occupancy target (The High Price of Free Parking).
Result: an additional 100% increase in parking revenues. Further increase in transit ridership. Add more buses. Shorten subway headways.
Phase 4: Tax monthly parking passes out of existence; allow parking loyalty passes (park nine days and get one free) in lieu of monthly parking (such passes discourage occasional transit use). Handled by the hands-free Phase 1 meters.
Result: Revenue neutral, another increase in transit ridership.
Phase 5: Add a “landing fee” for parking or a departure fee for “unparking” in a congestion zone during peak times. Handled trivially by the Phase 1 hands-free meters.
Result: Increase in revenue neutral, major increase in transit ridership.
[By now there will be a 30% drop in peak-hour traffic, AND we’ll have most of Giambrone’s money.]
Phase 6: Institute a mileage credit exchange to make this fairer to non-motorists.
Result: Motorists directly subsidize transit riders. Non-motorists (read “disadvantaged” or “willing-to-switch-to-transit” as you wish) benefit directly instead of indirectly. The “unfairness-of-road-pricing-to-the-disadvantaged” is further mitigated. Revenue neutral, government kudos.
Phase 7: Institute staged congestion pricing. Handled trivially by the hands-free meters in Phase 1. Don’t even consider pricing the DVP or QEW more than surrounding roads.
Result: All of Giambrone’s money and much more (to fix the roads, of course).
To complete this in detail, I need help from someone who knows