Brooklyn Boro

Pols trade barbs after congestion pricing plan is delayed

June 6, 2024 Raanan Geberer
In this Jan. 11, 2018 file photo, traffic crosses the Williamsburg Bridge in New York from Brooklyn into Manhattan.
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On Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul shocked many New Yorkers by indefinitely postponing congestion pricing, which she had previously supported — just days before the planned June 10 rollout date.

In a recorded message, Hochul cited the city’s fragile economy from the COVID-9 pandemic as well as the financial burden the required fee would impose on many middle-class New Yorkers. 

The state Legislature had already approved congestion pricing. Even members of the MTA board, which likewise had approved the plan, were taken by surprise when Hochul made her announcement, according to the Associated Press.

Congestion pricing — designed to lower auto emissions and encourage public transportation — centers on Manhattan below 60th Street but penalizes vehicles entering that area. The tolls for cars entering the zone would be $15, $3.25 at night. 

Trucks would be charged between $24 and $36. Taxis and uber-type vehicles would add $1.25 to fares, while Uber-type vehicles would add $2.50. Similar restrictions would apply to motorcycles and non-commuter buses (city buses would be exempted). The money would go to the MTA to fund improvements to the transit system.

In Brooklyn, the centers of support for congestion pricing seem to be the Brownstone areas and Greenpoint-Williamsburg. While Democrats tend to support the plan and Republicans tend to oppose it, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

Borough President Antonio Reynoso, at a Crain’s Power Breakfast, said, “Politically, it’s a big mistake … This compromising is why we continue to lose.” He urged his business audience to support congestion pricing so that they won’t have to pay higher taxes to make up for the shortfall that would result from the plan’s demise.

U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-West Brooklyn-Manhattan) was concerned about the postponement. “Congestion on our streets has reached untenable levels, leaving our neighborhoods at increasing risk of traffic violence, hindering the ability of our buses and emergency vehicles to operate efficiently, and exacerbating the effects of climate change,” he said.

Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (D-North Brooklyn), tweeted on X, “Instead of standing firm with a vision for better mass transit and cleaner air, Gov. Kathy Hochul is once again cowering in fear of suburban backlash.”

Her colleague Robert Carroll (D-Park Slope-Windsor Terrace-Kensington) tweeted that delaying the plan is a “terrible idea. Congestion pricing will not only fund necessary MTA capital project but will also make NYC streets safer, air cleaner and make our city more livable.”

On the other hand, U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Southern Brooklyn-Staten Island) said Hochul’s postponement was “a direct result of our lawsuits.” The State of New Jersey, a truckers’ organization, the Staten Island Borough President’s Office and the United Federation of Teachers were among the groups that brought suit. Malliotakis cautioned, however, that if the Democrats win in November, “congestion pricing will simply return.”

State Sen. Jesssica Scarcella-Spanton (D-Coney Island-Brighton Beach-Staten Island) similarly said, “Governor Hochul indefinitely stopping the implementation of congestion pricing is a significant win for our constituents. We have been voicing our concerns about this program since its inception, and I’m glad that Governor Hochul has taken the concerns I have brought to her into consideration.” 

And Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny (R-Coney Island, Bay Ridge,” wrote, “Today’s decision to indefinitely suspend congestion pricing is a victory for all New Yorkers. Residents should not be punished simply because of where they work and live.”

Comments by non-officials were often less restrained. Bike South Brooklyn tweeted, “You should call the coward (Hochul) this morning and tell her to implement congestion pricing.”

Brooklynite Ethan Friedman tweeted, “20 years from now, when there finally is congestion pricing in Manhattan (and Brooklyn???), everyone will wonder why it took so long.”

On the other side, Lone Woof tweeted, “Congestion pricing is good for people who live in Manhattan who work for big businesses, government or have a laptop job; (or) Brooklyn or Queens young professionals who live near Manhattan and bike and don’t own cars. That’s about it.”

The MTA could lose the most if congestion pricing is not put into practice. Without the additional revenue, it could be faced with a $25 billion capital shortfall, Newsday reported.


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