Testimony By State Senator José M. Serrano Given Before The New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission On October 31st, 2007
Asthma remains an epidemic in my district with traffic congestion as a major contributor. It is estimated that vehicles are the source of 26% of emissions emitted in New York City. The South Bronx has the highest instance of asthma in the city. Approximately 33,000 Bronx residents reported having at least one asthma attack over the course of a year.
In my district only 20% of households own a car and only about 4% commute to the Congestion pricing zone by car. About 80% of our constituents depend entirely on mass transit to get around. The buses they depend on are some of the slowest buses in North America as a result of traffic congestion, and the subways serving this community are severely overburdened. If implemented correctly, congestion pricing will help not hurt my constituents in the Bronx, by funding substantial improvements in our mass transit system.
Congestion pricing is one of the major keys to reducing automobile traffic and carbon emissions. We need to do whatever we can to discourage people from driving into Manhattan and cutting through our neighborhoods. I believe that the combination of initiatives outlined in PlaNYC will make a real difference in the quality of life for all New Yorkers.
As an elected official representing parts of Upper Manhattan and The Bronx, my support for congestion pricing is based upon assurances of a robust commitment to enhancing mass transit, and addressing the localized concerns of neighborhoods outside of the Central Business District.
The following are some recommendations that I believe are worthy of consideration:
· Funds collected from this program must be completely dedicated to short and long term transit improvements. In the short term, the bus network must be expanded and enhanced. In the longer term we must expand the subway network, perhaps even extend the new Second Avenue subway into the Bronx.
· The proposed MTA fare hike must be deferred. My Senate colleagues and I have submitted a letter to the MTA chairman urging deferral of the fare hike.
In closing, I would like to applaud the Mayor and team for their great vision, and I look forward to working with him to make sure that vision becomes a reality.