An early critic of the Bloomberg administration's plan to impose a fee on commuter vehicles in Manhattan has announced an alternative proposal, promising to cut pollution and traffic congestion while saving lower-income New Yorkers money.
Rep. Anthony Weiner's ideas are similar to Mayor Bloomberg's — except they center on trucks and largely exclude cars.
Mr. Weiner, who calls the Bloomberg traffic plan a regressive tax on the poor and middle class, says City Hall can achieve its environmental goals mostly by discouraging trucks from transporting goods to Manhattan during peak hours, hiking daytime truck tolls, and offering tax credits to businesses that accept nighttime deliveries.
A spokesman for the mayor, Stu Loeser, said several of Mr. Weiner's proposals are " ripped right out of our policy books," but he said the congressman's plan as a whole would "drastically increase truck traffic in neighborhoods that already have high child asthma rates." In addition, Mr. Loeser said, the Weiner plan would hurt small businesses and fail to fund accommodations for a projected population spike.
Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC, a 155-page plan for "a greener, greater New York," would bill car drivers below 86th Street $8 to enter, leave, and move between weekdays 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Truckers would pay $21. The mayor would also push trucks to switch to nighttime deliveries.
None of the other possible successors to Mr. Bloomberg have publicly supported the congestion-pricing plan. Politicians who represent boroughs other than Manhattan are especially opposed, as residents there stand to pay a great share of the congestion pricing.
Even Mr. Weiner's language choice — the congressman calls it a "car tax" rather than using the mayor's term, "congestion pricing" — reflects his opinion that the Bloomberg administration's proposed traffic plan is an unfair duty on less wealthy New Yorkers.
"We have to have a truthful discussion about what this thing is, and we're not going to call french fries freedom fries in this debate. We're going to call this what it is. And what this is," Mr. Weiner said, "is a tax on the middle class and those struggling to make it."