"Mayor Bloomberg says congestion pricing will raise $390 million a year for mass transit, but that figure is nothing more than an educated guess," The Daily News reports.
Reviewing internal documents made available through a Freedom of Information Act request, the News finds that in January 2007 the Department of Transportation was developing a congestion-pricing "System [that] runs 346 days each year, capturing cars and trucks four times on every trip, processing 6,052,000 transactions each day. Each license plate costs 75 cents to read. The annual operating cost is $884,168,938, or 44.4% of total revenue."
But by April, after some tweaking to predicted costs, the numbers changed: "System runs 248 days each year, capturing cars and trucks two times on every trip, processing 2,796,000 transactions each day. Each license plate costs 15 cents to read. The annual operating cost is $232,640,000, or 35.2% of total revenue."
In London, operational costs consumed nearly two-thirds of the system's revenue in its first year. Afterward the toll was raised to $16 from $10. By nature governmental programs cost more to run than anticipated -- New York's especially. The News therefore notes that Bloomberg's estimated $390 million in new MTA revenue can't be counted on: "While the mayor's plan assumes it will cost $232 million a year to operate the system, just two little tweaks in the model -- four sensors per trip, and 75 cents to read a license plate -- would raise the cost to $685 million per year, leaving nothing for mass transit."
Meanwhile, Richard Lipsky at the Neighborhood Retail Alliance says Bloomberg's prediction that congestion pricing will ease traffic volume 6.3 percent seems to have been pulled from thin air.