Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Democratic governor delays New York urban toll indefinitely

By knl9j Jun6,2024
News

On Wednesday, June 5, Kathy Hochul announced the discontinuation of the initiative to reduce Manhattan traffic and pollution, which was heavily criticized for its excessive costs.

To everyone’s astonishment, New York State Democratic governor Kathy Hochul postponed the implementation of a congestion fee for automobiles heading south of Central Park (60 e Street) indefinitely.

Ms. Hochul announced her decision via video on Wednesday, June 5. “After careful consideration, I have come to the difficult conclusion that implementing congestion pricing would have too many undesirable consequences for New Yorkers at this time,” she said, instructing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city’s public transportation system, to postpone the plan “indefinitely.”

The Murdoch press, strongly opposed to the initiative, mocks the governor for purported electoral purposes. “The Democratic governor of New York prioritizes party over climate. According to Fox News, Democrats worry that New York’s anti-congestion toll scheme could cost them in November. If Democrats and Republicans compete for the US Congress majority, New York will be crucial.

Possible boycott

Motorists paid 15 dollars (13.80 euros) between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., lorries 24–36 dollars, motorbikes 7.50 dollars, taxis 1.25 dollars, and VTC 2.50 dollars, based on London’s model. The long-debated toll system to reduce traffic and air pollution was set to start on June 30, but it faced huge pushback. Its amount is significant, especially when coupled to Manhattan’s tolls. The tax was added to the $15 to cross the George Washington Bridge or Holland and Lincoln tunnels for New Jersey drivers. The “Garden State” governor sued New York for its decision.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that she is indefinitely delaying congestion pricing in Manhattan just weeks before the plan was set to take effect, dealing a major blow to transportation advocates who have spent decades pushing for the deal and a win for opponents who say the toll is a regressive tax on commuters.

“After careful consideration I have come to the difficult decision that implementing the planned congestion system risks too many unintended consequences for New Yorkers at this time,” Hochul said in a Manhattan video conference.

Hochul requested the postponement owing to affordability and the city’s post-pandemic economic recovery, according to a source familiar with the Governor’s plan.

The first US congestion pricing would have been in New York. Similar programs exist in London and Stockholm. The New York City version was supposed to start June 30th after years of planning. The idea charged $15 to enter Manhattan south of 60th street, with commercial vehicles and trucks paying higher tolls.

A Metropolitan Transportation Authority representative declined to comment on the plan’s March approval and execution.

The international head of the Transport Workers Union, which represents many city transport workers, accused Hochul of political malpractice, telling CNN he caved to pressure.

Samuelsen said CNN, “This was going to be a disaster for Hochul at the ballot, and the plan is bleeding into the Dems’ efforts to take back the House.

The strategy aimed to collect funds for essential transportation upgrades and upkeep. The previous subway system and other public transit choices in the city and its surrounding towns would have improved throughout time.

According to a second source acquainted with the Governor’s plan, Hochul thinks the timing is bad and would prevent commuters from returning to Manhattan’s central business district.

Some state legislators and New York’s congressional delegation, including those from districts outside the five boroughs, strongly oppose congestion pricing and worry it will cause political backlash from their constituents in a crucial election year, which was part of the governor’s decision to delay it, sources said.

Two sources expect state legislators to be briefed all day.

Republican City Councilmember Joe Borelli, who represents areas of Staten Island where the plan is unpopular, called the governor’s decision political.

“The political calculus has always been the same – it was going to pay off poorly for Democrats, this has always been a wildly unpopular proposal that was only supported by a very vocal minority in the city, mainly the anti-car bike bros,” Borelli told CNN.

“Democrats are in a tailspin nationally and now Hochul is flip-flopping on a state-wide poison pill that affects Long Island and the Hudson Valley, where Democrats need to take back the house, where this is hugely unpopular,” he said.

Wednesday saw immediate reaction, notably from New York congressional members. CNN said that Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres was surprised by the outcome.

Hochul was criticized by Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat who represents key Brooklyn districts that favor the idea.

“As a longtime champion of Congestion Pricing and the Congressional Representative of a significant portion of the Central Business District (CBD), I am disappointed by reports that Governor Hochul will not implement Congestion Pricing on June 30, as previously planned,” Nadler said.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who represents southern Brooklyn, sought a compromise.

Leader Hakeem Jeffries has been indifferent on congestion pricing for years. That hasn’t changed,” spokeswoman Andy Eichar said.

“Leader Jeffries supports a brief pause in congestion pricing to better understand its financial impact on working class New Yorkers who have faced a challenging inflationary environment due to the pandemic. We will continue to cut expenses for average Americans and improve public transportation in New York State, Eichar said.

Transportation Alternatives, a key plan supporter, criticized the delay.

Delaying congestion pricing to accommodate the program’s strongest critics is a slap in the face to millions of New Yorkers who use public transportation daily. The group stated that congestion pricing is a $15 billion lifeline for the MTA that would be lost if the program is halted. Next time your train is late, your bus is stuck in gridlock, or your metro stop lacks an elevator, blame Governor Kathy Hochul.

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