March/April 1994, p.12-13

Tri-State Groups Call for New Regional Vision, Fault DOTs Promoting Business As Usual

In January, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign released its "Citizens Action Plan: A 21st Century Transportation System," a 100-page policy paper outlining a comprehensive approach to reorienting transportation trends, planning and investment in the 32-county New York metropolitan area. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is an alliance of 14 New York, New Jersey and Connecticut activist groups, including Transportation Alternatives, attempting to reduce regional auto dependency.

Tri-State's plan calls for transportation and planning authorities at all levels in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Tri-State area to reverse trends toward more automobile travel. Vehicle miles traveled, a standard measure of total driving, could increase in the NYC region by up to 35% over the next 15 years unless serious changes in transportation planning are made now.

A Comprehensive Alternative
The Plan is the fullest expression of a new transportation direction for the New York area, and stands as an antidote to the lifeless, auto-oriented "long-range plans" being developed by regional authorities. The Tri-State Campaign calls for increased investment in alternatives to driving as a central strategy to address the consequences of uncontrolled, self reinforcing traffic growth and suburban sprawl. Our present transit system must be upgraded and better maintained, and be complemented with rail and bus capacity increases and vastly expanded incentives for bicycle and foot travel. Land-use policies must be changed to help reduce travel distances and preserve remaining open space. Planning must promote equitable access for all to the region's critical employment and social destinations.

Road Pricing
Attainment of these goals can be financed in part by shifting funds away from highway expansions planned by State authorities. But another, potentially larger source of transportation funds would come from area drivers themselves. The Plan calls for drivers to compensate the region for the vast fiscal, economic and social damage they now impose upon it Recovering the costs of road building and maintenance, traffic congestion, air pollution and traffic accidents, requires that a variety of tolls and fees be imposed on drivers, from truck "weight-distance" taxes to "smog fees" and peakhour entry tolls. These pricing mechanisms would help finance transit and other transportation investment and create strong disincentives to drive, especially in the most crowded parts of the region.

The Campaign believes that current transportation planning shortchanges the region because City, State and regional authorities are not responding to legislative mandates (federal Clean Air and Surface Transportation Acts) to shift emphasis away from roads. Nor are they responding to the dictates of common sense which suggest that further traffic increases will destroy our remaining quality of life and create gridlock throughout the region.

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Tri-State Region: Households without Cars
All 32 Counties: 29%
New York City 56%
Six Urban Counties 53%
26 Suburban Counties 10%

Six Urban Counties are New York (Manhattan), Kings (Brooklyn), Bronx, Queens, Essex (NJ), and Hudson (NJ). Source: 1990 census data compiled by Regional Plan Association, as calculated by Komanoff Energy Associates.

Tri-State Region: Our Diminishing Open Space

YEAR Open Space As a Percentage Of All Land
1954 77%
1970 62%
1985 48%
1993 41%
2003 ???

Percentages denote land classified as undeveloped or public open space in the 32 counties. Source: Regional Plan Association, "Where the Pavement Ends," in The Open Space Imperative, 1987, except figures for 1993, which is extrapolation from 1954-85 rate.

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