After Queens lawmakers rip congestion pricing plan, Cuomo makes ultimatum: accept it, or face big fare hike

Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

Despite state lawmakers giving the MTA the cold shoulder at a budget hearing on Jan. 30, Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling on the legislature to pass congestion pricing to circumvent a 30 percent fare increase on MetroCard swipes.

Cuomo has included congestion pricing in his 2020 executive budget, but state Senator John Liu and other legislators told reporters at a Feb. 1 press conference claimed there were not enough details on the proposal to make a decision on whether or not to approve the plan to create steady funding stream to redeem the city’s faltering public transit.

“We showed up at the budget hearing this year fully expecting to hear some details about what this congestion pricing plan would do, how much would people get charged, how much revenue does the MTA actually expect and how much congestion will we be relieved of?” Liu said following a hearing. “I certainly went expecting the MTA just to tell us, I didn’t think we’d have to be there for five hours asking the MTA question after question after question and getting no answers whatsoever… This is probably the worst we have seen from the MTA ever. The MTA is telling us ‘just trust the MTA.’ Hate to say it, but the last people on earth who should just be saying ‘just trust us’ to the public is the MTA.”

Liu was accompanied by state Senators Toby Stavisky and Leroy Comrie, as well as Assemblymen Daniel Rosenthal and David Weprin who said told reporters that only only are their constituents living with the lease amount of MTA services, they will pay the most.

But with between two and five percent of residents from Queens projected to saddle the burden of paying tolls of up to $11 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street, Cuomo argued that 25 percent of motorists who commute into the city are coming from out of state.

“The MTA has been plagued by organizational dysfunction and disinvestment for decades, and we need better management and more money to turn it around,” Cuomo said on Feb. 7. “Congestion pricing is the only logical and realistic option to fund the MTA’s capital needs and one person must have the authority to make decisions, hire and fire, and reorganize. Let the Legislature cast their vote on the real choice – congestion pricing or 30% fare and toll increases. It’s A or B, because there is no C. If the public understands the critical choice their elected officials are making, congestion pricing will prevail.”

The MTA has been looking for reliable revenue stream since Cuomo announced a state of emergency for the city’s subways in June 2017 and while Mayor Bill de Blasio championed a tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of New Yorkers the governor has been persistently in favor of congestion pricing.

After New York City Transit President Andy Byford was appointed the Fast Forward plan was release to modernize the city’s transportation in 15 years; but its been projected to cost $40 billion.