Charles Komanoff


Cars II - From auto-free to auto-fee

The statement by NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August 2017 that "Congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come" revived interest in tolling vehicle use in the Manhattan core -- an idea that I've supported with traffic modeling and advocacy journalism since 2010. Unfortunately, the governor failed to back up his rhetoric, and the state budget enacted in March 2018 didn't include appropriations to move forward with a NYC "cordon toll" -- the principal ingredient by far in congestion pricing. However, the idea is back on the table, as shown in the concise (7 slides) PowerPoint presentation, "NYC Congestion Pricing," that I presented at an international energy-efficiency symposium in Washington, DC in June, 2018. Click here.

From December, 2017): "London Traffic Would Be At Least 20 Percent Slower Without Congestion Pricing" explains why congestion charging in London has been a resounding success. 8 pages, illustrated. Click here.

My work developing, analyzing and advocating equitable and effective traffic-pricing plans for New York City has been shaped and supported by the Nurture Nature Foundation, a philanthropy established and guided by the late Theodore W. Kheel.

The analytical heart of this work is my "Balanced Transportation Analyzer" spreadsheet. The "BTA" spreadsheet may be downloaded by clicking here.

Scintillating and accessible accounts of the BTA have been published in New York magazine, Motherboard/Vice, Traffic Technology International, and Wired. They're all entertaining and terrific, but my favorite is the Wired article, which profiled both me and my mentor and patron Ted Kheel, and which first brought the BTA to prominence. Here are links to each:

* Why You Should Be in Favor of Congestion Pricing in New York, New York magazine (March 27, 2018).

* Meet the Spreadsheet That Can Solve NYC Transit (and the Man Who Made It), Motherboard/Vice (2017).

* Transport economist Charles Komanoff is determined to solve NYC's traffic problems, Traffic Technology International (2013).

* The Man Who Could Unsnarl Manhattan Traffic, Wired (2010).

I'm affailiated with the Move NY Campaign, a consortium of advocates who have coalesced behind a comprehensive toll-rebalancing plan devised by noted traffic engineer Sam Schwartz. This Oct. 2014 post on Streetsblog conveys the appeal of Schwartz's plan. Earlier posts making similar points are here (May 2012) and here (March 2012).

In December 2013, I addressed China's inaugural public forum on congestion pricing, held in Hangzhou. I reported on it here for Streetsblog. Along with representatives from London, Stockholm, Milan and Singapore, I was asked to write an account of New York City's political experience with congestion pricing, for publication in a Chinese-language volume issued in 2014. My 19-page narrative, Congestion Pricing for New York City, is available here.

A pdf of my March 7, 2012 presentation at New York University Law School's Milbank Tweed Forum, "How NYC Is Breaking The Gridlock On Transportation Policy," is available here.

My 16-page report from early 2012 arguing that the planned 15-lane replacement Tappan Zee Bridge will cost too much to be financed through tolls on bridge users.

A 10-page report supporting my Jan. 2012 Reuters op-ed on the traffic impacts of adding 2,000 medallion taxicabs to NYC's yellow-cab fleet.

Is congestion pricing economically (and politically) regressive or progressive? I argue the latter in this spirited Nov. 2011 letter to a leading socialist author-activist.

I have written dozens of articles on my traffic-pricing modeling for the NYC livable-streets blog Streetsblog. Here are links to the most recent dozen or so:

♦ May 1, 2018, A Better Taxi Surcharge: More Congestion Reduction, Less Pain for Cab Drivers

♦ April 10, 2018, Setting Up a Cordon Toll Would Pay for Itself in a Few Months

♦ April 3, 2018, Albany Didn't Even Get the Taxi Fees Right

♦ March 21, 2018, Manhattan Congestion is Too Intense to Fix With an Uber Charge Alone

♦ March 14, 2018, Assembly Democrats' Taxi Surcharge Plan Isn't Congestion Pricing

♦ March 7, 2018, An Hourly Fee on Cabs and Ubers Is Less Radical Than It Appears

♦ February 22, 2018 The Cost of Cold Feet: No Cordon Toll Means Kissing Most Congestion Pricing Benefits Goodbye

♦ January 23, 2018, The Fix NYC Congestion Pricing Plan Looks Solid -- If Cuomo Aims High

♦ January 12, 2018 Congestion Pricing Will Help Stop Climate Change -- But Differently Than You Think

♦ January 2, 2018, Why Congestion Pricing Won't Overwhelm the Subways

♦ December 5, 2017 London Traffic Would Be At Least 20 Percent Slower Without Congestion Pricing

♦ August 14, 2017, De Blasio Is Wrong -- There's a Congestion Pricing Plan That Affects All Boroughs Fairly

And here are links to much-earlier ones:

August 1, 2011: Guess Who Has a Lot to Lose from an MTA Meltdown: Drivers

March 18, 2010: In Any Language, the Cost of Congestion Comes Through Loud and Clear

January 6, 2010: With Congestion Pricing, Saving Time Trumps Reducing Pollution

October 16, 2009: Wanted: Crowd-Sourced Transportation Analysis

October 13, 2009: Paradox, Schmaradox. Congestion Pricing Works.

I also published these pieces in Grist in 2007-08, on larger meanings in the political battle over congestion pricing:

April 8, 2008: Machiavelli Meets The Big Apple: Ten Reasons NYC's Congestion Pricing Plan Went Belly Up

March 31, 2008: High Noon for Congestion Pricing: What We Lose if Bloomberg's Plan Goes Down

July 16, 2007: Valuing The Commons: Congestion Pricing's Hidden Payoff

The following articles trace the lineage of my traffic-pricing work to Theodore (Ted) Kheel:

Feb. 11, 2008: A Climate for Old Men: Spearheading Transit for Livable Cities at 93 (in Grist)

Nov. 15, 2010: In Memoriam: Ted Kheel, Transit Advocate and Visionary (in Streetsblog)

Nov. 19, 2010: Requiem for Man Whose Ideas on Transit Aren't Past (by Clyde Haberman, in The New York Times)

Other articles and papers on traffic pricing

My August 2006 op-ed in Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Forward-Thinking Idea for a Trendsetter," posing "parking cash-out" incentives as an alternative to a Microsoft mega-parking lot.

My March 2003 op-ed in the Daily News arguing the fairness of East River bridge tolls

My 2003 report, "A Value-Pricing Plan for the MTA" (PDF)

My report for Energy Foundation, "Environmental Consequences of Road Pricing"

My Oct 2001 op-ed in Newsday, "Giuliani puts brakes on car culture"

Two for Vickrey -- my portraits of road-pricing pioneer (and Nobel laureate) Bill Vickrey in the NY Daily News, "The Man Who Had A Cure for Gridlock" (Nov 1996), and New York magazine, "Traffic: Demand and Supply" (Dec 1996)

My 1995 Newsday op-ed, "Should the L.I.E Become a Toll Road?" (with June 2006 intro)

Pollution Taxes for Roadway Transportation: My extensive (40-page) article in the Pace Environmental Law Review (Vol. 12, Issue 1, Fall 1994) outlining a mix of fees, charges and taxes that would internalize most of the unpriced costs of driving.

Article summarizing "Pollution Taxes" law review article.

Crossroads: Highway-Finance Subsidies in New Jersey, 1995 report for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign by Charles Komanoff & Margaret Sikowitz, establishing that driver tolls, taxes and tickets in New Jersey account for only 77 cents of each dollar spent to build, maintain, repair and operate the state's highways and roads.

Subsidies for Traffic: How Taxpayer Dollars Underwrite Driving in New York State, 1994 report for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign by Cora Roelofs & Charles Komanoff, establishing that driver tolls, taxes and tickets in New York State account for only 65 cents of each dollar spent to build, maintain, repair and operate the state's highways and roads.