There was no mention of congestion pricing in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s speech Wednesday detailing her budget priorities.
But she told NY1 on “Inside City Hall” Thursday that she still supports it as a means of boosting the MTA.
“The capital funding would come from congestion pricing and that’s the long-range investments,” she said.
Hochul did place greater focus on funding for the transit system’s operating expenses, or day-to-day costs, proposing a payroll tax hike and an increased contribution from the city.
What You Need To Know
- A plan to charge motorists entering Manhattan below 60th Street still awaits federal approval
- But pushback grows louder with time, including with bipartisan opposition among some city and federal lawmakers
- Congestion pricing advocates who say the billions are necessary also worry that plan will get stalled
But shoring up the MTA amid fallen fare revenue will also take billions in capital cash for construction, repairs and other big-ticket items.
Congestion pricing advocates rallied Thursday to speed up implementation of the plan to charge drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street, the most crowded corridors.
City Comptroller Brad Lander was among them.
“Car crossings back from the suburbs into Manhattan are at 100% — in some cases, above 100% of their prepandemic levels,” he told NY1 Friday. “We just can’t wait anymore for something that will reduce congestion, improve air quality and invest in our subways.”
The state Legislature green-lit congestion pricing in 2019 and moved it on to the MTA to develop.
But it faces still more hurdles, requiring Federal Highway Administration approval of the environmental assessment released last August.
City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli and other opponents have been seizing the opportunity to derail it permanently.
“Congestion pricing was always about leveraging bonds outside the control of the State Legislature and issuing new bonds for new capital projects,” Borelli said. “And as we’ve seen with East Side Access, almost all of the MTA Capital Program is over-budget and delayed.”
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, like Borelli, has been spotlighting how there’s public outcry against congestion pricing in London.
She posted a tweet Wednesday of her conversation with former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who says in the video, “Don’t do it! My friends, don’t go for congestion charging. Vehicles are getting cleaner and cleaner.”
Last month, New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer and New York Republican Mike Lawler paired up to say there’s bipartisan pushback on the plan in Congress.
Lander posed this challenge to congestion pricing-detractors, especially New Jersey officials calling for more environmental review: “This will be able to make $15 billion of investment in the MTA.”
He added, “If you know where there’s $15 billion lying around or you have another proposal, go ahead and make it.”
If the federal government approves the plan, the Traffic Mobility Review Board in New York would decide which toll structure will be used and who gets an exemption.
One of those proposals would charge motorists entering Manhattan $23 daily.