• February 20, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

Congestion headache over transit funding

Queens officials want more details from MTA on a Manhattan toll plan

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Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:55 pm, Thu Feb 14, 2019.

It seems that congestion pricing has become like a hot dog — many people say they like it, but they can’t quite tell you what it contains.

Last week, officials of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and members of the Queens delegation to Albany exchanged frank words about the lack of details and who is to blame for the situation.

Transportation activists, environmental groups and the MTA itself have backed the idea of congestion pricing, which will, if implemented, charge tolls for drivers going into Manhattan south of 60th Street. Supporters claim the move will reduce traffic in Manhattan and create a stream of revenue for the MTA.

In a gathering at the Long Island Rail Road’s Jamaica Station last Friday, state Sens. John Liu (D-Bayside) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) were critical of testimony earlier in the week from the MTA before the Senate’s Transportation Committee, of which Liu is a member.

Patrick Foye, president of the MTA, told the committee that unless congestion pricing and other revenue streams are approved, fares could increase as much as 27 percent to cover anticipated costs — on top of fare and toll increases already being considered.

But Liu said when he pressed for more information, it was not forthcoming.

“I fully expect to have details,” Liu said. “How much will they charge? How much revenue will it raise?”

Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows), a fierce opponent of congestion pricing based on principle, worries that the money will be spent with no oversight or accountability. He prefers measures such as reinstatement of a commuter tax.

Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) said he has a more parochial concern.

“My district has no subway stops and no LIRR stations,” he said. “They can’t give me details on how they want to spend the money ... I have to tell my residents what they get other than they have to pay more.”

Comrie was asked directly if it would not make more sense for the Legislature to draw up a plan with input and negotiations involving both the MTA and Gov. Cuomo. Comrie said the onus is on the MTA, which he said has claimed to have studied the matter in depth.

“If they want us to, we can do the studies and hold public hearings,” Comrie said.

At a separate press conference the day before, state Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-East Elmhurst) and Assemblyman Michael Den Dekker (D-East Elmhurst) said they do support congestion pricing in theory, but they also want more detail.

In an email to the Chronicle, an MTA spokesman said the agency is willing to meet the electeds halfway.

“We appreciate our legislative partners’ support for congestion pricing, which will bring desperately needed funds to modernize New York’s mass transit system while averting massive fare hikes,” he said. “We look forward to continuing discussions around congestion pricing.”

Gov. Cuomo’s office did not respond to an email requesting comment.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • pvrjr posted at 9:05 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2019.

    pvrjr Posts: 278

    Sometimes, you have to focus on the lesser of two necessary evils to benefit millions of NYers while keeping the dysfunctional MTA finances in check. [wink]

  • stan chaz posted at 7:20 pm on Thu, Feb 7, 2019.

    stan chaz Posts: 17

    typo fixed
    This is ridiculous. With congestion pricing we’ll have the little guy and small businesses in the outer boroughs pay through the nose once again -- while the big guys, the large Manhattan businesses, Wall Street and the millionaires & billionaires who profit handsomely from the daily influx of humanity into Manhattan don’t pay anywhere near their fair share. The rich get richer and we get screwed. Turn that around and tax the ulta rich. For this is a grossly unfair burden on huge parts of the City and it’s unacceptable, unfair and discriminatory. There are more than enough tolls already strangling this City and its people. Don’t call it congestion pricing. Call it the Outer Borough Tax - and dump it.
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