Anthony Williams opposes congestion pricing, pitches shuttle buses to cut gridlock

In this file photo, State Sen. Anthony Williams announces his Philadelphia mayoral bid. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

In this file photo, State Sen. Anthony Williams announces his Philadelphia mayoral bid. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

This story originally appeared on PlanPhilly.

Mayoral candidate State Sen. Anthony Williams says he would not consider congestion pricing as a fix for Philadelphia’s transportation woes if he were in charge.

The practice, recently adopted by New York, represents a new way of tolling drivers by charging fees to enter select areas at peak hours. Kenney administration officials said last week they were paying attention to New York’s program to see if the approach could work for Philadelphia.

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Williams said the idea raises too many questions about equitable access.

“For some people, the congestion pricing would be excessive,” Williams said at a forum hosted by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. “And so we want to take that into consideration. So it doesn’t become people who have a lot of money can afford it and [others cannot.]”

Williams suggested an alternative way of reducing gridlock: create more free parking outside of the city’s center, and encourage businesses to direct to employees park there and take a city shuttle to work.

Such a shuttle system does not currently exist, though the city subsidizes shuttles that transport workers to the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia.

“We got to find different strategies that would incentivize people to leave their cars outside of Center City and you can move more freely,” Williams said.

Williams said that the city could use work on its transportation strategy.

“We don’t really have a real thoughtful approach to how we move people around in Philadelphia,” said the two-time Philadelphia mayoral candidate.

He acknowledged Philadelphia’s growing population and shifts in transportation are leading to more traffic congestion. Ride-hailing cars, delivery trucks, bicyclists, and construction are taking up more space on the street, which is slowing down public transportation.

Just as more needs to be done to encourage drivers to leave cars outside of Center City, he said Philly needs to discourage reckless bicyclists.

“If you’re going to have a biker who rides in front of my car,” he said, “flips me off, rides through the red light, almost causing an accident, and you can’t catch him then it’s not going to work.”

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