Incoming New York lawmakers back congestion pricing
- Six incoming New York state senators said in a statement that they support a "comprehensive, robust, fair and sustainable funding plan for the [Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)] that includes congestion pricing at its core," according to Streetsblog NYC.
- The new support could offer a boost for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has advocated for congestion pricing to fund the New York City subway and other transit service, which has been stalled in the state legislature because of opposition from outer-borough lawmakers.
- Streetsblog points out that of the six all-Democratic signees — state Sens.-elect Alessandra Biaggi, Andrew Gounardes, Robert Jackson, Zellnor Myrie, Jessica Ramos and Julia Salazar — only one, Biaggi, defeated an incumbent who opposed congestion pricing.
Congestion pricing got another boost this week with the release of a report from the Metropolitan Transportation Sustainability Advisory Workgroup, a state-appointed body meant to offer guidance for the MTA board. That report found that congestion pricing in the city was a "particularly attractive" option to fix the subway’s funding crisis, since it "reduces the economic and environmental costs of excess traffic, while allowing surface transit to move faster and increasing transit ridership." Other cities, including Los Angeles, have expressed a willingness to charge people to drive if it funds transit improvements.
But the idea’s appeal on paper and broad support hasn’t helped it in the state legislature, where some lawmakers from the outer boroughs and outside of the city have balked because it might expose their residents to higher costs for driving into Manhattan (proponents have said that people who drive into the city are typically wealthier). Advocates have said that Cuomo needs to exert more authority to push the state senate towards congestion pricing, or risk the subway falling into greater disrepair.
Still, the announcement that six new lawmakers will make it a priority should add more weight to the proposal as a new legislature seeks a way to meet the MTA’s massive capital needs. The New York Transit Authority released a plan this spring to overhaul the network over the next five years, at a reported cost of $19 billion, which will force the issues with lawmakers. John Raskin, executive director of advocacy group Riders Alliance, told Streetsblog the incoming lawmakers' support for congestion pricing mattered because it showed they “ran on a platform of fixing the broken subway system” and “see why fixing the subway is a social justice issue.”
Of course, congestion pricing also has the added benefit of limiting traffic on New York’s crowded streets, a problem that will only accelerate with e-commerce delivery ramping up.
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