Buckle up, folks, it’s going to be a heck of a ride. Congestion pricing is on its way, along with other plans to take more money from the private sector and give it to the beleaguered MTA. Oh, and say goodbye to those very convenient lightweight plastic bags you get at the store and hello to paying for paper ones if you don’t bring your own. None of this is happening immediately, but it’s all written into law under the new state budget.
How much will it soon cost to drive into Manhattan below 60th Street? Unknown. The fee will be recommended by a new panel of six people and approved by the MTA board, though the talk is around $11 or $12 for personal vehicles and $25 for trucks. Also unknown at this point is whether someone already paying a toll, such as to go through the Midtown Tunnel, will also have to pay the new fee. That’ll do wonders for traffic on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. So we’ll see.
The money is to be earmarked for the MTA. Let’s hope that plan works out better than the one under which the lottery goes to help pay for education, something that allowed politicians to divert other funding away from the schools.
Other new sources of MTA revenue we think we can live with, like higher taxes on multimillion-dollar home sales and new taxes on internet sales. But will there be unintended consequences, like more job creators leaving New York?
Then there’s the bag ban. We wish to thank all the slobs here and around the world who’ve made plastic shopping bags such as scourge of the environment. If they were disposed of properly, few would be looking to ban them. Now, in a little less than a year, they’ll be illegal and stores will charge a nickel for each paper bag they give out, money that will be split between state-funded environmental projects and the cost of giving out free reusable bags in lower-income areas. It’ll be interesting to see how that money is collected.
It’ll all be interesting as these new laws take effect and we see their impact: not just what officials hope will happen but what actually does.