(Jul 17, 2007)

Bloomberg concedes congestion pricing plan defeat

By Sara Kugler
From AP

NEW YORK (AP) - Mayor Michael Bloomberg all but conceded defeat Tuesday on his plan to reduce traffic by charging drivers extra fees, saying the state Legislature's failure to act was a ''terrible setback'' for the city.

''I can't ascribe motives to the lack of action in Albany, but I can definitively say the environment and the future quality of life in New York took a beating,'' Bloomberg said in a statement a day after the plan appeared to collapse at the state Capitol.

Bloomberg pushed for a congestion pricing plan, similar to one in London, as part of a wide-ranging package of environmental proposals that won him national attention.

The congestion plan had called for an $8 toll for cars and a $21 toll for trucks entering Manhattan's most heavily traveled business district during workdays. The money was to go toward transportation improvements.

The plan appeared to have died because many state legislators wouldn't support it. A number of lawmakers who represent areas outside Manhattan where commuters live said middle-class New Yorkers with no mass transit options would be unfairly burdened by the charges.

The mayor, believed to be contemplating a presidential bid, vowed Tuesday that his administration would go ahead with its other environmental proposals. Some have gotten worldwide notice, such as his plan to phase out the traditional yellow taxi and replace all cabs with hybrids by 2012.

A leading skeptic of the concept, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, did not schedule a vote on the plan before Monday's deadline to apply for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for the program.

''It's sad to note that after three months of working with all parties to address their questions, the failure of the State Assembly to act in time on a deadline imposed by the federal government is a terrible setback for clean air and to our critical commitment to fight climate change,'' Bloomberg said.

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