Friday, December 26, 2008

The Ravitch Plan vs. the Kheel Plan

You may have heard about the current Ravitch Plan to fund the MTA's budget deficit. The plan would impose stiff fare hike on subway and buses, automatic hikes on the subways and buses every two years on an inflation adjusted basis without necessity for public hearings, a tax of 0.33% on payrolls and self-employed income, and tolls on the East and Harlem River bridges. All this at a time when individual finances are already under more pressure than any time in recent memory.

But there is a progressive alternative plan by noted labor mediator Theodore W. Kheel. The original plan, which received only sparse publicity as an alternative to the mayor's defeated Congestion Pricing plan, has been updated to reflect the current troubled times. It would on average double the Mayor's Congestion Pricing fees, impose a surcharge on taxi rides, would make subways on average 75% less expensive and free during off-peak hours, and buses free 24/7. The plan is estimated to reduce traffic in the Manhattan Central Business District by a dramatic 33% compared to an estimated 3% reduction for the Ravitch Plan. It would dramatically reduce air pollution in the city, actually reduce subway crowding because of redistribution of ridership to take advantage of the variable pricing times, and fund the MTA through the congestion charge on vehicles and through myriad efficiencies created by the plan, such as the decreased need to collect fares (especially on buses as passengers board) increased speed and ease of travel, friendlier atmosphere for biking and walking, and hopefully by increasing economic activity by alleviating rather than increasing the financial burdens on the majority of city residents at this worst of all possible times.

As you might expect, such a radical plan will probably meet a wall of skepticism and silence from government and media. But we will keep an eye on it's progress. For details, go to www.kheelplan.org.

Image from Nurture New York's Nature

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