Cuomo to offer a congestion pricing plan to fund transit repairs

Posted On Mon, August 14, 2017 By

Posted On Mon, August 14, 2017 By In Policy, Transportation

Photo via Lucas Klappas on Flickr

With New York City’s subway system currently in a state of emergency, public officials and advocates have been developing ways to pay for its urgent repairs. According to the New York Times, Governor Cuomo is planning to release a congestion pricing plan as a way to provide a dedicated source of funding for the transit system, as well as a way to reduce traffic on some of the country’s busiest streets. Ten years ago, Mayor Bloomberg pushed for a similar plan, charging drivers $8 to enter the most congested parts of Manhattan during peak commuting hours, but the legislation faced resistance and was never brought to a vote.

Photo © Governor Andrew Cuomo/Flickr

Cuomo, who has not yet revealed specifics of the plan, is drafting a proposal that will try to improve Bloomberg’s failed attempt. Bloomberg’s idea served as a major part of his environmental agenda and would have raised $500 million annually to fix the subway’s infrastructure. The plan failed because elected officials from Brooklyn, Queens and suburban areas outside of the city felt it benefited Manhattan at the expense of their own constituents.

During this current time of transit crisis, Cuomo said congestion pricing is an “idea whose time has come.” He told the Times, “We have been going through the problems with the old plan and trying to come up with an updated and frankly better congestion pricing plan.” Cities like London and Stockholm have implemented congestion pricing, successfully reducing traffic and improving public transportation systems.

Move NY, a group which develops transit plans for New York, recently revealed a congestion pricing plan that some elected officials said they would support. The group’s project would require drivers to pay a toll of $5.54 in each direction at four bridges: the Ed Koch Queensboro, the Brooklyn, the Manhattan and the Williamsburg. Drivers in Manhattan crossing 60th Street would be charged $5.54 toll in either direction, as well as along the West Side Highway and FDR Drive. To make it more equitable, the plan would reduce tolls by as much as 48 percent at other crossings, like the Cross Bay-Veterans’ Memorial, the Henry Hudson and the Throgs Neck Bridge.

In total, the group projects its plan would yield about $1.47 billion annually, with $1.1 billion for public transit, and the rest, for bridges and roads. Move NY has been pitching the proposal to the Cuomo administration, but no official plan has been released yet.

As 6sqft recently reported, Mayor de Blasio announced a plan that would tax the wealthiest 1 percent of New Yorkers to fund the subway’s much-needed repairs, as well as provide half-price MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. The so-called “millionaires tax” would increase the tax rate of the city’s wealthiest residents to 4.4 percent from roughly 3.9 percent for married couples with incomes over $1 million and for individuals who make more than $500,000 per year. The plan must be approved by Albany to be enacted, something that many say is unlikely due to the state Senate’s GOP majority.

While both congestion pricing and a new tax may gain political momentum, it doesn’t pay for the immediate funds the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has requested. The authority released an  emergency action plan to fix the subway that takes more than $800 million in repairs and renovations. The governor has agreed to contribute half of the cost, asking the city provides its own share. As of now, the mayor has refused.

[Via NY Times]


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