The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Below 86th Street)

Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing folly just keeps getting worse. Today the New York Times is reporting that not only will drivers be charged $8 to enter Manhattan below 86th Street, those of us who are already here will be charged $8 to leave!

Not only that, it’s going to cost you money to get in your car even if you never leave the congestion zone:

Drivers whose trips start in the zone and do not leave it would pay only a $4 fee, as in the case of an Upper East Side resident who drives to a job on Wall Street, or a TriBeCa resident who drives to an Upper West Side doctor’s appointment. But under the plan, if those same people drive north of 86th Street, or to New Jersey, Queens or Brooklyn, the $4 fee rises to $8. Drivers with E-ZPass would get credit for any bridge or tunnel tolls. Trucks would also be charged $21 to enter or leave the zone, or $5.50 to travel within it.

The city will use gazillions of Big Brother-brand surveillance cameras and an EZ Pass system to track cars as they move in, out and within the zone. So exactly how much driving does one have to do to trigger the $4 intra-zone charge? When I’m circling my neighborhood for an hour every night trying to find a space to comply with the alternate-side-parking rules, will I have to pay? In that case, maybe they should scrap the alternate-side fines altogether. After all, if they’re going to penalize us if we drive our cars — but charge us more if we fail to drive them — that’s hardly going to reduce traffic congestion.