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Congestion Pricing Supporters Crash Opponent’s Midtown Press Conference

Supporters of the plan made their voices heard at an anti-congestion pricing press conference. (Riders Alliance)

March 25, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan

A group of congestion pricing supporters faced off with opponents of the tolled transportation plan at a press conference held by two state legislators and a local council member yesterday in Midtown.

Assembly Members David Weprin of Queens and Rodneyse Bichotte of Brooklyn, joined by Council Member Barry Grodenchik, were met with shouts of “working people take the subway,” and “vote them out” as the lawmakers announced their opposition to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s congestion pricing plan that would toll drivers entering the Manhattan business district below 60th Street.

The press conference, held at Tramway Plaza, located at the base of the Queensboro Bridge, focused on the idea that congestion pricing would hurt New York’s middle class. The lawmakers said that the plan, which would generate funds to help fund the dilapidated system, was not fair on middle income drivers.

“We want to fix our transit also, but we just don’t want to fix it with a congestion tax that will disproportionately affect [middle income] drivers,” Weprin said. “The entire MTA problem should not be on the backs of drivers in Manhattan.”

Biochette agreed, adding that the burden will be felt most by middle income workers. He said the wealthy will continue to take taxis and livery cabs to work, which will be paid for by their employers, and will be largely unaffected.

“The corporations are paying [their cab fares]. They will not feel it. Our constituents in the outer boroughs, immigrants, families, they are going to feel it,” Biochette said.

The speakers floated ideas to tax recreational marijuana, internet sales, and pied-à-terres as a means to fund the needed MTA repairs. It has been estimated that these initiatives could raise $10.25 billion in five years.

Cuomo has said, however, that the income stream generated from congestion pricing would allow the MTA to raise $15 billion through bonds. 

Supporters of the congestion pricing plan shot down the notion that working class people—the vast majority of whom take public transit into Manhattan—would be significantly affected. A report by the Community Service Society found that only 4 percent of outer borough commuters drive into Manhattan on a workday. Of those who did commute by car, more than half were high-income earners.

“Opposing congestion pricing serves the wealthy few and will mean no end to terrible transit for the rest of us,” said Daniel Coates, Director of Campaigns and Organizing for Riders Alliance. “The congestion pricing plan under consideration is a progressive way to fund urgent repairs to the transit system so that working people can get to their jobs, pick up their kids and keep their medical appointments.”

As the subway system continues to deteriorate and bus ridership declines, the supporters demanded that the legislators take action now.

“New Yorkers are sick and tired of a small group of out-of-touch legislators standing in the way of improving our transportation system,” said Thomas DeVito, Senior Director of Advocacy for Transportation Alternatives. “It is outrageous that they’ve spent over 10 years kicking the can down the road on fixing our transit system, while offering zero solutions of their own.”

Cuomo has currently incorporated congestion pricing into the State budget, which will be voted on for approval before April 1.

 

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8 Comments

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Paul Kersey

So by taxing anyone who doesn’t want to co mingle with the filth below the MTA will be saved? Seems like this needs to be thought through some more. Where are all of the surcharges that hve been designated for the MTA been going? Stained glass on platforms???? Crime, homeless, filth, criminally insane, peddlers, delays and congestion are all down below in the subways-with increased fares. Cuomo has been in office nearly a decade and has done nothing. Now he wants to save the day? Go after the management, the bloated pensions, negotiate some of the god awful debt and do something other than taxing anyone else. Disgraceful.

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Eric

I’ve been robbed on the subway twice no one ever caught so now I drive in
I pay 42 dollars to park at a meter for 8 hours
Now add this
I make 44 thousand dollars a year
Now all included 20 of that goes to the government
Plus buying gas and being taxed on the gas I buy
On top of being taxed on anything left I have for me to buy things
Food clothing etc
It’s rediculous

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Gus Kobleck

I agree that most middle class drivers do not use their vehicles to commute INTO Manhattan…but many of us need to pass through to get to other locations from Long Island and the outer boroughs…..I should not have to pay to “pass through” Manhattan to get to a destination that is not convenient by any form of public transportation. Do not penalize us financially for this necessity…..it is not causing the congestion that is being touted. Tolls for private vehicles should not be used to subsidize public transportation, I would much rather pay more for something I use often, public transportation, than using my toll to subsidize something else. Lets not turn this into what the NYNJPA gets away with in using tolls for things unrelated to private transportation. The current tolls smack of interfering with interstate commerce, and the desire by many to travel within the tri-state region.

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gus kobleck

not nearly as much as those drivers who chose to drive into manhattan, and travel around because the dont want to use mass transit. If I want to passing through the get to New Jersey conjestion that is caused is limited to the direct routes between long island and New Jersey…and that is most often during the rush hours. Sounds like an excuss to punish me and subsidize mass transit…I use it regulary and would rather pay a higher fare than make others non users subsidize the costs. At best, there must be a way with technology to eliminate any congestion pricing toll if I am just passing through manhattan to get to my true destination…I currently have that option when I travel into the Rockaways since Im a resident….Again why should I be penalized for using a free bridge….and pay dearly in time by avoiding the midtown tunnel and RFK bridge to save a toll. Appreciate you response to my initial statement just the same.

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Kevin

Now they want to see who will pay how much
Is your a working person making below 100,000a year you can’t afford rent food etc But if your considered low income you get help from every program here .now they say if your low income you might be excempt from congestion pricing
Its bullshit if your low income what are you doing with a car any way
I’m against this whole thing.also
If they do this no one gets special privileges
Because you make certain income working man gets shit pay taxes can’t live here either
Rent food clothing etc kids or no kids don’t put an income on this idea .of charging to go into the shit box

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Ober

Uber drivers show up–they have to make a living, but their corporation pours thousands of unregulated, non taxi-licensed drivers onto the Manhattan streets. Uber/Lyfts cruise Manhattan, drift across lanes or stop and stare at their phones for their next fare. Don’t buy the line that they serve the outer boroughs.
No public transportation for most of Queens and Brooklyn–supply the helicopters so your voters can fly–then we can get to doctor’s/hospitals/jobs.
These burly guys are plants sent by the Uber corporate types.
(And regulate a fair wage for all drivers, by the way.)

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