‘Big Tent’ Welcomes Hochul Into Office, Urges Support For Congestion Pricing To Fix Subway, Confront Traffic Crisis

‘Big Tent’ Of Organizers, Advocates, Businesses Welcomes Gov. Hochul Into Office, Urges Steadfast Support For Congestion Pricing To Fix New York’s Iconic Subway, Confront City’s Post-Pandemic Traffic Crisis

In a letter Tuesday, signers representing everyone from landlords to bus riders and diverse voices in the environmental movement cogently counseled New York’s new Gov. Hochul to fulfill the state’s promise to toll Manhattan’s central business district and raise billions of dollars for public transit reliability and accessibility
New York, NY–Amid New York’s first gubernatorial transition in more than a decade, the exceedingly varied coalition that pushed congestion pricing forward to passage in 2019 is once again insisting that the program roll out as quickly as possible. In a letter to new Governor Kathy Hochul, the state’s first woman chief executive and first from upstate in a century, the advocates and firms demanded quick action on the tolling plan to avoid fare hikes, dirty air, and unreliable trains.
The signatories, convened by the grassroots Riders Alliance, the city’s organization of subway and bus commuters, range from the Real Estate Board of New York and transportation network company Uber to the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance and New York Communities for Change. Rarely in New York have such disparate interests come together behind such an innovative policy. Congestion pricing, which operates in several cities throughout the world, would be a first for North America; local governments across the United States are closely following New York’s example.
“Governor Hochul can secure the future of New York and the transit system New Yorkers depend on by standing strong and delivering a robust congestion program,” said Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum. “Low fares, clean air, and reliable service are the foundations of an equitable recovery. With congestion pricing in place, New York’s transit system can provide the modern, reliable, accessible infrastructure that our city needs and deserves.”
With attention in recent days focused on whether the federal environmental assessment, now expected to take 16 months, could happen faster, the letter urges what strategists see as the most important piece of the implementation puzzle. Just as previous Governor Andrew Cuomo set the legislative process in motion four years ago by calling congestion pricing an ‘idea whose time has come,’ Governor Hochul’s commitment is now seen as pivotal to the build out of the tolling program and the receipt of $15 billion for new subway signals, train cars, station elevators, and other critical upgrades to the more than a century old subway system.
Accordingly, congestion pricing’s advocates seek to bring the new governor up to speed and quickly secure her support for the transformative initiative. While premature post mortems for the city often blamed the subway for its high number of deaths early in the pandemic, public transit ridership has rebounded to more than four million trips per day, with no covid outbreaks traceable to transit. Meanwhile, car and truck traffic approaches abysmal, pre-pandemic normal levels, which the Partnership for New York City blamed for an annual cost to firms and families of $20 billion, a major obstacle to economic recovery and growth. With increased post-pandemic consciousness of air quality, social inequity and climate change, advocates are confident that they will win Gov. Hochul’s crucial support for congestion pricing.
The full letter and list of signatories is attached.
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