Bloomberg: drivers should pay, transit should be free

The Staten Island Ferry. (Peter Gorman via Flickr)
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Michael Bloomberg took the Staten Island Ferry today, and soon afterward said that, in a perfect world, people would pay to use cars but not mass transit.

"If you were gonna design, keep in mind, the perfect public transportation system, you would have it be free and you would charge people to use cars, because you want the incentive to get them to do that," he said.

The question of transit, and its cost, arose during a press conference announcing private plans to build the world's tallest Ferris wheel and a new mall on the north shore of Staten Island. Since such a destination might create excess demand for the ferry, which is now free, a reporter asked if the mayor would consider charging a fare to ride it.

"Nobody's looked at that," said Bloomberg. "The ferry has a tradition of being paid for by the taxpayers."

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Bloomberg availed himself of two forms of taxpayer-funded transportation to arrive at today's event.

A taxpayer-funded car carried him from a ribbon-cutting in Harlem to the Staten Island Ferry terminal in lower Manhattan, where he boarded a ferry with a handful of reporters.

Upon his arrival in Staten Island, another car awaited, driving him the final two blocks to Richmond County Bank Ballpark, the site of the press conference.

This was not the first time the mayor has called for drivers to pay for the right to use their cars.

Earlier in his mayoral career, Bloomberg tried, and ultimately failed, to push a congestion pricing scheme through Albany that would have imposed tolls on the East River bridges.