To New York City Traffic
by David Pollack
with Interests in Medallion Taxicabs!
Financial Disclosure Report
is due by
May 1, 2003 !
Click the following link
to go to the form on
the TLC website
had the honor of being one of twelve panelists on an international BBC
program. Arriving two hours early, I was able to speak with several Londoners
about a new experiment of tariffs on all vehicles entering London, and
the effects this experiment has had on traffic.
let me explain how the system works. Almost every vehicle must pay what
amounts to $7.50 per day for a permit. This permit allows one to bring
his/her vehicle to a predetermined area of London, England. This permit
has to be displayed on vehicles within the zone. Toll booths have been
built and 400 traffic permit agents have been hired to weed out any cheating
drivers. Drives pass through an EZ-Pass-like toll system.
In addition, 800 cameras take photos of vehicle plate numbers and electronically
compare them throughout the day and evening with a database of paid permits.
When your license plate is observed at the toll plaza by this computerized
photo system, either a bill or a deduction is generated. The permits are
similar to, but even more obtainable than EZ-Pass, with prepayment locations
throughout the city including newsstands. There are discounts for weekly,
monthly and annual permits. Residents living in the London zone also receive
What really makes this pricing system work is the penalties! Minimum fines
are about $100.00 per day for no permit. If a vehicle enters the permit
zone without a permit, they still can pay up until midnight and not receive
a penalty notice. Don't worry, taxi drivers: txis are exempt from these
permits, as are buses, emergency vehicles and vehicles for the disabled.
According to the Londoners that I have spoken
with, the experiment is an amazing success. I am told that there is virtually
no traffic in London anymore. Suburban drivers park their vehicles in
parking lots just outside the zone. The London bus system has tripled
the amount of buses in service. Whereas one bus would stop every ten minutes
at any particular bus stop, now there are three buses stopping every ten
minutes at each stop!
My new friends told me that London cabbies love the zone tariff. They
described the results of this new traffic tariff the following way. They
were impressed by how little traffic there was this Sunday morning, compared
with other mornings in New York City. I was told that driving in London
now was like driving on Sunday, every day! There is an increase in the
number of passengers driven daily.
Time is money in our business, and the less time it takes you to drive
your passenger to a destination, the faster you can pick up that next
farer. Imagine taking your fare cross-town in less than five minutes instead
of the current twenty-five minutes. Imagine very little avenue traffic,
whether driving up 6th Avenue at Herald Square or driving down 2nd Avenue
towards the 59th Street Bridge.
A system in New York City similar to the successful tariff system in London,
England will ease the demand for additional yellow cabs because of our
ability to better service the public.
Additionally, as gridlock is reduced, gasoline efficiency will become
better. At a time when gasoline prices are reaching an all time high,
this is a very important fact. All vehicles get their worst mileage while
idling in traffic.
It is unlikely any plan like the one in London can be successful in New
York without help from the MTA. Instead of calling for cutbacks in service,
they will need to dramatically increase service. Will they step up to
the plate to service the amount of new mass transit passengers created
by this tariff system?
It was Mayor Koch who initially presented a plan to charge all vehicles
$10.00 per day to enter midtown or downtown Manhattan in the 1970's. I
always wanted to take a picture with Mayor Koch. Coincidentally, I shared
the panel on this rainy Sunday with eleven other New Yorkers for this
BBC broadcast. Little did I know that Mayor Koch would be on the same
panel with me! I finally got my picture.
Was meeting him this day meant to be? We shall see.