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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Are extra EV vehicles good or dangerous?: Elevating the Uber/Lyft cap is a mistake Categorical Instances

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As is commonly mentioned of the federal government, they do issues “bass ackward.” Instance: one arm of the federal government is implementing a plan to cut back visitors congestion whereas one other arm is growing congestion.

Mayor Adams, whereas well-intentioned, is making a mistake by eradicating the cap on Uber, Lyft, Revel and different rideshare corporations so long as the added automobiles are electrical powered. The restriction was applied in 2018 by Mayor Invoice de Blasio after the surge of rideshare automobiles soared to greater than 100,000, crippling vehicular visitors, decimating the taxi trade and eight drivers died by suicide. It is usually the incorrect time because the MTA’s congestion pricing program is predicted to start out in lower than a yr and, as historical past reveals us, these extra automobiles will worsen congestion.

A significantly better plan can be to ease the alternative of gas-powered app-based vehicles (apps) with electrics by means of monetary and different incentive packages. The New York Taxi Staff Alliance (NYTWA), which represents drivers, agrees with that strategy, saying the town “is breaking a life-saving cap set in place after drivers died by suicide from despair attributable to oversaturation of vehicles + at a time when @MTA is trying to scale back congestion and automobile pollution… Town is addressing local weather change by flooding the streets with extra vehicles.” NYTWA sued the town final week

As transportation economist Charles Komanoff factors out, “including space-hogging automobiles — of any propulsion — takes us backwards. Not simply when it comes to worsening … gridlock however as a result of the added congestion ensures elevated emissions from the combustion automobiles nonetheless on the highway.”

Again after I was the town’s visitors commissioner within the Eighties, I studied Midtown visitors extensively. I discovered weak correlations between automobile speeds and the quantity of visitors coming into the zone. However I did discover a shut correlation between automobiles in movement (VIM) i.e. taxis, livery automobiles, and black vehicles (low value limos) and visitors speeds, which was printed in The Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal in September 1982.

Mayor Ed Koch needed to extend taxi availability by including medallions, however my work confirmed that including taxis would, counter-intuitively, make them much less out there at key demand instances since visitors can be slowed a lot that fewer folks might be served. As an ex-cab driver within the Nineteen Sixties and early 70s, I knew why. I may normally do 30 journeys/shift, however when visitors was jammed possibly solely 25. Sadly, now many “yellows” are struggling to get 15 journeys/shift.

We want not look again 40 years to see the influence app-based vehicles have had on congestion. Within the decade previous COVID, 2010-2019, the variety of motor automobiles coming into the congestion pricing zone, (Manhattan south of 60th St., the Central Enterprise District, CBD) dropped by 64,000 automobiles each day. One would subsequently anticipate a concomitant lower in congestion, however virtually incredulously, visitors speeds in Midtown dropped to their lowest degree in a century: simply 4.7 mph. How may visitors volumes drop and congestion improve?

Research by visitors planner Bruce Schaller discovered the apps congregated in areas the place visitors was already the worst and the place transit was the perfect (and the place folks had the best revenue). Not solely have been the apps including vehicles to probably the most crowded streets, however they have been largely taking folks out of transit. An interview survey carried out by NYC DOT discovered that the app-riders largely got here from transit (40%) and taxis/liveries (35%). Solely 10% got here from vehicles. Total visitors volumes within the CBD went up by 7%.

As well as, Schaller discovered that for each passenger mile the apps transported they needed to drive 1.6 miles since they normally arrived empty and left empty. And, when they aren’t shifting, I’ve noticed many parking in truck loading zones forcing vehicles to double park, additional worsening visitors move.

Disturbingly, the town is continuing with a program so as to add 1000’s of vehicles to its busiest district with none form of environmental examine however quite, as Komanoff places it, a meager five-page examine. A detailed learn truly makes an argument to not improve the numbers as city-wide wait instances are close to historic lows of 4.7 minutes (the historic vary is 4.5 to six.6 minutes). Moreover, the town stories, “month-to-month Midtown visitors speeds, which rose in 2020 within the wake of the pandemic, have been reducing yr over yr, reaching pre-pandemic lows in Fall 2022.” A brand new slow-speed report is within the making.

Distinction this five-page report of a plan that will increase congestion by 1000’s of automobiles hourly and subsequently harms the setting, with the 4,000 web page MTA Environmental Evaluation for Congestion Pricing that reduces whole visitors however shifts at most just a few hundred automobiles/hour.

The mayor is to be counseled for wanting to cut back air pollution and greenhouse gases. However this isn’t such a plan.

Schwartz is a former NYC visitors commissioner.


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