Report on congestion pricing shows NE Queens will be most affected

Report on congestion pricing shows NE Queens will be most affected
Photo by Michael Shain
By Mark Hallum

Non-profit advocacy group Tri-State Transportation Campaign reinforced the assessment from the Fix NYC panel that congestion pricing would only affect around four percent of outer borough drivers in a new report.

The Fix NYC panel proposal, released in January to implement congestion pricing, keeps traditionally free bridges into Manhattan free while only imposing fees on vehicles entering a central business district from 60th Street to South Ferry.

The new report from Tri-State breaks down driver information based off demographics from “U.S. Census 2011-2015: 5-Year American Community Survey” by state Senate and Assembly districts.

According to the report, the farther west the district, the less impact congestion pricing will have on commuters.

The district farthest to the east, that of Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), will have the heaviest impact with about 5.7 percent of drivers expected to pay the $11.52 toll for entering lower Manhattan.

Braunstein did not offer a statement regarding the toll but Chief of Staff David Fischer said simply that the assemblyman “is opposed to the plan proposed by Governor Cuomo’s Fix NYC congestion pricing panel.”

The district with the lightest impact is that of Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) with only 2.6 percent projected impact, which is in league with other districts such as that of Assemblyman Jefferion Aubrey (D-Corona) and is representative of accessibility to subways for residents.

Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), a staunch opponent of congestion pricing since Governor Andrew Cuomo announced over the summer it was an idea “whose time has come,” said that although four percent seems like a small metric it may have a surprising impact on a large population.

“The answer is in how one counts. About 1 million people in the other boroughs commute to Manhattan to work. 118K represents almost 12% of all those people,” Grodenckik said on Twitter.

Grodenchik’s district is mostly within that of Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing), whose constituents will see about 4.8 percent impact.

Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) stood with Grodenchik and state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) after the release of the proposal at a Manhattan rally opposing the plan. Comrie’s district would be impacted 3.6 percent according to the report.

“Congestion pricing would be disastrous for Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island residents,” Weprin said. “The tolls would inadvertently place a tax [on] middle-class communities and small businesses in these areas and raise the cost of goods and services from these areas while also limiting the competitive ability of local businesses.

“On top of that, private drivers who rely on the free bridges would have to pay each and every time they travel into the city, in addition to the vehicle registration fees, fuel taxes and other garage fees charged to New York City drivers. New York cannot afford to break the backs and empty the wallets of its outer-borough locals to ‘Fix NYC.’”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.