The Kheel Plan--Could it Work?

The MTA funding crisis is settled for now, but while it raged, New Yorkers were a captive audience, albeit a jaded one, knowing that all the funding plans had one thing in common—mass transit fares would increase in the teeth of tough times.

The most game-changing plan of them all, with roots going back over 40 years, was ignored—the Kheel plan—from Theodore Kheel, longtime labor mediator and, at age 95, New York City icon and visionary miles ahead of the city's transportation establishment.

The original Kheel plan, introduced in January 2008, would have made subways and buses free!—paid for by doubling the Congestion Pricing fees proposed in the CBD to $16 for cars and $32 for trucks, charged once per day including weekends, raising taxi fares 25%, and charging curbside parking fees in the areas bordering the CBD. The latest plan, introduced in January 2009, would moderate congestion pricing fees and make subways free at night and on weekends, while reducing fares during weekdays, especially during off-peak hours. Buses would remain free 24/7. Called the Kheel-Komanoff plan (acknowledging the work of Kheel's collaborator, energy-policy analyst, transport economist, and former Transportation Alternatives president Charles Komanoff), this plan acknowledges political “realities,” yet still faces widespread media indifference.

Read the rest of this article in the on page 12 of the July 30 Linewaiter's Gazette.