October/November 1999, p.13


New Jersey
Lautenberg Lunacy

In a move that sent shudders of disbelief through transportation advocates, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg announced in early September that he was seeking to make toll booths on New Jersey roads free when traffic backs up at rush hour as a way to usher cars through and ease congestion.

Lautenberg seems to have missed the point of tolling roads entirely. His initiative would provide a major incentive to drive at peak hours, exactly when it needs to be discouraged. Lautenberg's initiative would also completely negate efforts by NJ Turnpike Authority Director Edward Gross to start congestion relief pricing on the turnpike at the next toll increase.

TZ Study Says Use Tolls to Control Traffic

A recent study by the NY State Thruway Authority concluded that varying tolls between peak and off-peak hours would substantially reduce rush hour congestion on the Tappan Zee Bridge and warrants serious consideration. The study also found that half of Tappan Zee drivers interviewed "strongly favored" or "somewhat favored" congestion pricing, and that many drivers had flexible schedules and would consider changing their commuting times based on toll costs.

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New York
Highway Sign Boondoggle

The NYSDOT, MTA and Port Authority are planning to spend $200 million over the next five years on a system of so-called 'smart' variable message signs on highways in NYC to notify motorists of traffic jams. This is futile, say transportation advocates and the Daily News editorial page, because drivers can already glean this information from radio reports, and NYC has few parallel alternate routes that drivers can take. The signs betray another example of the City's huge bias towards drivers: while DOT and MTA will provide motorists with $200 million of unneeded info, NYC's straphangers will be once again left in the dark, with a virtually non-existent information system. In comparison, total spending over the same five-year period on bicycling, walking, and traffic calming in NYC will be about $65 million.

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How About Them Subways?

The Straphangers Campaign released its annual State of the Subways report in July, ranking the A, B and M lines as the worst in the city, and the 7 as the best. Subway lines were rated on six criteria: amount of service, breakdown rate, chance of getting a seat, percentage of trains arriving at regular intervals, adequacy of in-car announcements, and cleanliness. Compared to 1998, subway ratings grew worse on 9 lines, improved on 3, and stayed the same on seven. www.straphangers.org

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Long Island
State Funds L.I. Traffic Calming

In June, Governor Pataki and NY State Transportation Commissioner Joe Boardman announced a new traffic calming program to fund pedestrian safety projects on Long Island. NYSDOT will solicit proposals from cities and towns early next year. The fund will provide $3 million dollars in its first year.
Metropolitan is compiled from the Tri-State Transportation
Campaign's weekly publication, Mobilizing the Region; www.tstc.org

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