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Campaign for New York’s Future: Congestion Pricing

This StreetFilm for The Campaign for New York's Future explains the health and transportation benefits of congestition pricing, one of the 127 proposals included in Mayor Bloomberg's ambitious PlaNYC2030.

The Campaign for New York's Future is a coalition of over 80 civic, business, environmental, labor, religious, public health and community organizations partnering to make every neighborhood in NYC a great place to live and work.

[intro music]

Michael R Bloomberg: [00:20] We have to begin to manage the growth that we can see coming. If we don’t act now that growth will be paralysing, straining our infrastructure and endangering an already embattled environment. Conditions are bad enough now but if we don’t act, just think what they’re going to be like by 2030. Morning and evening rush hours may well consume half of each working day. Business deliveries will grind to a halt. Automobile exhaust, which today counts for more than 50% of air pollution, will only get dramatically worse. This is a slow motion public health and environmental disaster, and on the face of it how in good conscience can anyone maintain that doing nothing is an option?


Dr. John Balbus: [01:09] Traffic pollution’s really the second hand smoke of the streets. People are getting exposed to this kind of air pollution, it’s putting their health at risk and they may not even know about it.

Peggy Shepard: [01:19] It’s no surprise that we lead the country, this nation, in asthma rates, that in Northern Manhattan communities, hospitalisation rates for asthma are three to five times other neighbourhoods in this city.

Marta Rodriguez: [01:32] People think well, you know, you can move out. It’s not that easy just to move out if you can’t afford to move out. And I feel like why should I? Why can’t I stay and fight for where I live and make it better. I have the right to breathe clean air just as any other neighbourhood.

Bob Yaro: [01:48] New York is not the first city to adopt a congestion pricing system or to develop a sustainability strategy. Cities like London, Singapore and Stockholm and others are ahead of us. We have a lot to learn from them and I think in part we’re moving ahead with this system and the Mayor decided to move ahead because London’s congestion pricing system has been so successful.

Dr. John Balbus: [02:10] We know from places like London and Stockholm that establishing these zones in major urban centres and charging people a fee to get in can reduce traffic and also reduce peoples’ exposure to air pollution at the same time.

Peggy Shepard: [02:23] But the other thing that we understand is that there will be transportation enhancements. Mass transit will be improved before congestion pricing is instituted.

Bob Kiley: [02:33] Anyone who drives knows that traffic congestion can be nightmarish in London, as it can be in New York City. So I think people are interested in solutions, but change is always a problem.

Michael R Bloomberg: [02:48] There are certain facts that we’ve just got to all face up to, facts about congestion’s impact on our environment, our economy, our health and our future, on our lives and on the lives of our children.

Peggy Shepard: [03:02] London just didn’t start it and got it right the first time. They’ve had a number of years to make adjustments, and so this is a demonstration project and lets see how it works and lets take the time to get it right.

Bob Kiley: [03:16] Since this was really the first time that anything like this, at least in this part of the world, had been tried, we didn’t have a lot of models to follow, so we were pretty much on our own. It worked and now we can be a model for other cities. So if New York’s focusing on this, paying any attention at all, they got a good model in London flow.

Speaker: [03:36] Well it’s a success story and it’s about managing success and that’s really what the Mayor’s plan is about, is how to continue to manage success and make sure that we continue to be an even more economically viable place and even a better place to live as New York continues to grow.

Speaker: [03:48] Under the skin most of us don’t like change. We’ll put up even with bad circumstances because we fear the consequences of a change, maybe it could be worse than it already is kind of thing.

Peggy Shepard: [03:58] We’re at a crossroads in this city. We have an opportunity to plan for our future, for the future of this city and for our families, and we have to do that now.


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  • Wally B

    This is one of the best streetfilms I've seen to date. Great interviews. I would like to hear more from these people. Congestion Pricing will make this city so much more livable. I've been to London a lot, before and after the Congestion Charge was enacted and I've got to say i love it there now. If only New York could get with the times!
    Keep up the good work.

  • Joanna

    I enjoyed the film, but thought it was bizarre to include subtitles for a completely intelligible English speaker -- the woman from the Bronx.

  • Mike

    It was a really good film I would like to show it at my community board meeting. Is there I way I could download it and write it to a DVD?

  • http://www.alifelessmediated.blogspot.com Nicholas Whitaker

    I don't think you can download it but if you email me we can talk about how we can get a copy of it to your community board meeting.
    Thanks for the compliments.

  • D

    Lord, I completely agree with Joanna.

    Do we really think that putting subtitles on a COMPLETELY INTELLIGBLE woman with a normal New York City accent is going to help sell these ideas to the outer borough New Yorkers who need to be sold on them?

    The subtitles only seem to confirm the suspician that this Campaign is being run by rich, white Manhattanites completely out of touch with the reality of regular New Yorkers.

    The people who need to see this film and be sold on the ideas that are presented in it really do not need subtitles on that woman.

    Who do you think your audience is anyway?

  • http://www.alifelessmediated.blogspot.com Nicholas Whitaker

    Joanna and D,

    Thank you for your comments. And while i would agree that the majority of our audience would be able to understand a great NYC accent, there are some (from any socioeconomic background) and/or in other states, who may be unfamiliar with a NYC accent or have trouble hearing her comments clearly with the children playing in the background.

    What Marta had to say was very important and (i feel) represented the voice of anyone who lives in a under-represented area. I live in crown heights myself and what she said really resonated with me. I am by no means a rich white Manhattanite, nor do i feel that I'm out of touch with "regular" New Yorkers. (Is there an irregular kind?) New York is made up of people from all walks of life, as is our audience.
    I felt that it was more important to get her message out there clearly to whoever watched the video than risk someone being dismissive of it out of frustration with our way of talking.
    I hope you were able to take more away from the video than a negative reaction to some yellow text.
    Keep watching, and thank you for your feedback.

  • http://www.alifelessmediated.blogspot.com Nicholas Whitaker

    and so that no one else is offended, We will be reposting the video without titles soon.

  • george


    Take the feedback and work with it.

    The sub-titles are a big distraction from this otherwise very fine film. They are also just about the least politically savvy thing that I've seen come out of the NYC Streets Renaissance Campaign.

    It matters not one iota if people in other states can't understand Marta's accent. What matters right now is convincing NY State Assembly members and City Councilmembers, particularly in the outer boroughs, that congestion pricing is a good policy for their constituents.

    The people we need to see this film and be convinced of its message don't need the sub-titles.

  • Mike

    I'm not rich, and I'm a long time Queens resident, and I want to see PLANYC enacted along with congestion pricing. Our air quality is terrible, and congestion is worse each day.

  • Mike

    Can I please get your email address Nicholas to discuss getting a copy?

  • Sean

    Hi Mike,

    You can send any requests to info@streetfilms.org .

    Thanks for your interest!

  • http://goldensmile.com linda

    great film I can't wait to see the london model followed I hope this happens soon and doesn't drag on and on . Please bloomberg get on this project NOW.

    the film was great . at the end credits could have some visuals along with the credits

  • Ed miller

    very helpful and informative keep up the great work!

  • paloma pavel

    This is fabulous! We have followed the work of Peggy Shepard WEACT for years,we are also very impressed by Bob Yaro's work with RPA... they are both on the cutting edge. How do we get a copy of this to chow to our new Mayor, Ron Dellums, and city council?

    please contact us at http://www.earthhousecenter.org
    thank you, Paloma Pavel, President

  • Congestion Pricing? No, not yet

    Although I support the efforts of Trans.Alt. everyone who supports congestion pricing still has blinders on with regard to 150,000 government sector commuter vehicles parking illegally all over the city, especially in Manhattan. Elimination of illegal permit abuse comes first. The Mayor, the former DOT commissioner, and the NYPD have only given lip service toward this problem and it's cost the City $250-million in the past 5-6 years in parking meter revenue alone. Nixing permit abuse will cost NYC nothing, and give all the same benefits of congestion pricing plus $46-million/year in lost parking meter revenue. By the time congestion pricing goes into effect, NYC will have lost $300-million in parking meter revenue. This is on Bloomberg's watch - He's telling us at the beginning of the film "You can't just sit there ...." Well, he's just sat there and watched NYC lose $250-million in the past 5-6 years on his "watch".

  • Patience

    I am a native NYer, born in Brooklyn, now living in the midwest ... unfortunately I'd have to agree on subtitles as it helps the non-native to comprehend the dialect. NY is America's city:) The broader appeal is friendly and inviting. More tourists means more revenue:) More money means better for everyone.

    Great flick:)

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