#382 The Midtown Toll
Mayor Bloomberg of New York has come a step closer to charging you a few bucks for the privilege of driving into midtown, more than a few if you're in a truck. The City Council has okayed the plan, and the rest is up to the state legislature.
Eight bucks to get to Times Square? With gasoline at nearly four dollars a gallon? With parking garages charging the kind of money you used to pay for a medium size diamond or a studio apartment?
This is not going to reduce traffic. It's going to make traffic ten times worse during the pre dawn hours. After six or seven or whenever the tolls kick in, there will be four fewer cars and three fewer trucks. Going to raise a whole lot of money for road improvements. Maybe they'll even fix an extra pot hole, although that's unlikely, because the traffic control people, con ed, phone and sewer crews get so many laughs over people breaking axles and dropping drive shafts, and we want to keep those guys happy, after all.
So, a modest proposal. Toll the pedestrians instead. It's much easier, there are many more of them than drivers and they're far easier to push around.
Make it a reasonable toll -- less than a bus or subway fare. That way, no one will be tempted to go around the toll collector in a bus. Charge 'em maybe a buck or two. Put homeless people on collection duty. Let 'em earn commission. No salary, no benefits, no health insurance, plenty of money for everyone.
We're pretty used to the request for "spare change." So why not institutionalize it? And you don't even have to bother with badges and uniforms. Just give each collector a day-glow orange vest with an official looking sign on it.
If you run out of homeless (you won't,) you can always get those welfare kings and queens as a backup. It's well known that every other New Yorker's on the dole. And if you need backup for your backup, go to any playground and round up half a dozen hooky players on any given school day. Hold the basketball for ransom. Offer them leniency on the drug charges. Offer them "social promotions" or better grades in school. Solves a whole lot of problems.
Ah, you're saying, can't trust those shiftless homeless, welfare cheats and hooky playing middle-schoolers. They'll skim the pot.
Nonsense. You have the cameras up, use 'em.
And offer bonuses for specially able collectors.
Booze, pot, extra money, whatever. There's plenty to go around. You'll raise all the money you need for filling any but the recreational potholes and you might even be able to give the 59th St. Bridge the paint it's been needing for the past 15 years.
Tolling cars doesn't make any sense. Cars don't pay tolls, people do.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®