‘No I’m not’: Hochul rebuffs calls to halt congestion pricing

Governor Kathy Hochul stuck by her congestion pricing plan Monday, saying the long-delayed toll to drive into Manhattan’s central enterprise district was essential to chopping automobile visitors and combating local weather change.

“No I’m not,” Hochul stated when requested by a reporter if she’s going to rethink the cost, at an unrelated press convention on Lengthy Island Aug. 15.

“We’re the first generation to really see the impacts [of climate change], we’re the last generation that can really do something about it — this is what we’re doing about it” the governor added.

Hochul boosted the charge for motorists getting into Manhattan beneath 61st Road as a approach to fund upgrades to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s getting older mass transit system and get commuters out of automobiles.

“Congestion pricing is one tool, enhancing our infrastructure to give people a better experience and say, ‘Leave your vehicles home, you can get to work safely,’ protecting the environment in the meantime,” she stated.

Hochul famous how excessive storms wreaked havoc on New York Metropolis final summer season, akin to Hurricane Ida, which drowned 13 folks in floods and inundated the subway system.

“We had more hurricanes here than Florida did last year — that’s what we’re dealing with today,” she stated.

Earlier within the day opponents on either side of the political aisle and the New York-New Jersey border rallied in opposition to the charge.

Frequent critics of congestion pricing Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D–New Jersey) and Nicole Malliotakis (R–Staten Island)  known as it as a “cash-grab” and introduced they plan to introduce a invoice in Congress requiring the U.S. Division of Transportation’s Inspector Common to audit the MTA’s spending of $15 billion in federal COVID reduction.

However the Empire State’s chief government stated she was not going to give in to the naysayers and reverse course after years of delays.

“These voices, we’ve analyzed their concerns, but also, we’re not going backwards,” Hochul stated.

The MTA final week revealed a prolonged and long-awaited environmental evaluate with an inventory of doable tolling eventualities, starting from $9-$23 relying on the exemptions and reductions. 

This system is required to herald $1 billion in income a yr for the MTA, in opposition to which the Authority can borrow $15 billion to fund much-needed upgrades, like subway sign modernization, accessibility, and an extension of the Second Avenue Subway.

Between 15-20% fewer autos would enter the congestion zone underneath the plans, reducing every day employee automobile journeys by between 12,571–27,471, in accordance to estimates within the recently-released examine.

The costs will probably trigger drivers to divert onto different roadways to keep away from the toll, just like the Cross Bronx Expressway, which prompted concern by native Congress Member Ritchie Torres that tons of of recent truckers a day would additional pollute the borough’s air.

Hochul and MTA chief Janno Lieber assured that transit leaders would take these damaging results into consideration as officers provide you with a toll that’s set to kick in by early 2024.

Hochul’s predecessor, Governor Andrew Cuomo, signed congestion pricing into regulation in 2019, nevertheless it was delayed for years amid the COVID-19 pandemic and New York politicians accused former President Donald Trump of hitting the breaks on the undertaking. 

This system confronted additional setbacks when the federal authorities made the MTA reply greater than 400 detailed questions and feedback as a part of the environmental examine. 

Hochul a couple of months in the past appeared extra ambivalent about congestion pricing, saying throughout a gubernatorial debate forward of the June main that “now is not the right time” to implement the cost, earlier than shifting gears and reaffirming her assist for this system. 

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