Winter 1999-2000, p.13

Metropolitan

New York City
TransitChek Boon for NYC

In January, New York City will begin offering tax-free transit benefits to 150,000 municipal employees through the TransitChek program, which allows employees to exempt up to $65 per month for transit expenses from federal income taxes. Workers in NYC already represent about 60% of all Americans taking advantage of the benefit. After city employees begin participating in January, New Yorkers will represent over 80% of participants. This is good news for City residents, who pay billions of dollars in taxes more to the feds than the City gets back.

Metro Area
Traffic Problems Outpace Population

According to the Texas Transportation Institute's annual mobility report, traffic problems continue to significantly outpace population in the NY region. From 1982 to 1997, population grew 3%, while the hours drivers were stuck in traffic annually more than doubled from 15 to 38. In addition, road building and total driving significantly outpaced population growth as well, growing by 18% and 43% respectively. These trends are fueled by highway building and sprawl development.

New Jersey
NJ TPKE: Biggest Tolling Experiment in USA

In late November, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority announced a proposal for new toll rates and variable tolling for EZ-Pass users on the NJ Turnpike. According to the plan, cash tolls would increase by 20% in 2001, and another 17% in 2003, while EZ-Pass tolls -set to go online on the Turnpike in 2000- would increase by 8% in 2001 and another 10% in 2003. EZ-Pass tolls would vary by time of day, with higher peak period prices, in order to reduce congestion, and off-peak users would see no hike in 2001, and only a 5% hike in 2003. The higher cash tolls would be collected at all times. The plan still needs to be approved by Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and will be subject to a public hearing. If the toll proposal goes through, the plan would be the most extensive use of variable tolling on any major American toll road.

City Transit
Subway and Bus Snapshot: MTA 2000-2004 Proposal vs. Recent Trends

  • Number of subway cars MTA plans to buy by 2004: 1130
  • Number needed to add subway service: 1600
  • Number of buses MTA plans to buy: 1056
  • Number needed to add bus service: 2100
  • New service MTA plans to add by 2004: less than 3%
  • Subway ridership increase, 1997-1999: 14%
  • Subway service increase, 1997-1999: 4%
  • Bus ridership increase, 1997-1999: 36%
  • Bus service increase, 1997-1999: 9%

Adapted from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign's free weekly bulletin, Mobilizing the Region. Subscribe at www.tstc.org.

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