The New York Times published an article this week on a new attempt to revive the concept of placing tolls on the East River bridges of New York City which have always been free for drivers of cars, 15 passenger vans and trucks of New York City. The proposal is to place tolls using an electronic tolling mechanism which will automatically bill drivers of vehicles crossing the once free bridges. Clearly there is no room to install toll booths and toll plaza’s on the dense and congested roadways leading to the Brooklyn Bridge, Queensboro bridge now called the Ed Koch bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg bridge and those on the Henry Hudson Parkway connecting Manhattan and the Bronx.
The proposal calls for charging tolls each time a motorist drives a car or van over the bridges from Queens, Bronx or Brooklyn to Manhattan. There are varying proposals concerning prices and whether to impose different pricing for different times, adjusting the pricing based on day of week and time of day or keeping the pricing uniform as it is on those crossings which currently impose tolls such as the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge which connects Brooklyn and by extension Manhattan with Staten Island.
There are other ways to reduce congestion on the streets of New York City which would not cost the overall drivers in New York City which is the expansion of car share services. Companies such as Carpingo offer residents of Brooklyn access to a wide variety of cars, mini vans and cargo vans in numerous locations. Car share offers several benefits as studies show that car owners ranging from private car owners to business do not use their cars for more than a few hours a day. In utilizing a car share service such as Carpingo, the same car can be used by several different people from private people, college students and business owners throughout a day. Furthermore, the car share vehicle comes with gas and insurance included. Car share companies have staff that regularly visits the vehicles to clean and service the vehicles.
One factor which has impacted the growth and expansion of car share services in Brooklyn and New York City is the access to parking spaces in the public garages operated by companies in New York City. It is ironic that shopping malls are full of competing stores from popular food courts which aggregate different food vendors in the same consolidated area of the mall or the proliferation of food trucks all over New York City which compete in offering different menu’s and options to the consumer. Airports are known to streamline customer convenience in placing all the car rental counters in one facility.
Competition is known to drive down price and increase service except in the car share market of New York City where consumers cannot access the various car share services freely as most of the parking garage operators have signed exclusive arrangements with Zipcar. It is time that the parking garages open access to their garages assuming there are parking spots available. The parking garage industry would benefit as the economy has reduced overall demand for parking leaving many parking sports under utilized in New York City. The consumer would benefit as the drivers of Brooklyn and New York City would benefit by having better access to renting cars by the hour. Often times some companies are sold out while other car share companies have cars.
Imagine if there were more car share vehicles available, the belief if that New York City would need fewer cars which would free congestion and wear on the streets. I would propose that New York City enact procedures and rules to open the market and access. Before imposing another fee which can be interpreted as a tax on drivers looking to enter and exit Manhattan, car share, much like bike share can reduce driving congestion in New York City and across the various bridge crossings between Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn and Manhattan. The cost of tolls and the enforcement efforts in collecting the tolls incurred by drivers and car owners from out of state or in the state or City who do not own or purchase a transponder will be reduce the projected toll collections.
By extension that would increase the burden on those vehicle owners who follow the law and pay their tolls. Before imposing a new tax and fee on drivers in New York City who already face high car costs and an overall high tax rate can better benefit from options and access to cars when and where they need the cars while paying only for the time they use the car. Car share, Carpingo, is time share for car owners much like the vacation industry has benefitted from a sharing industry and movement.