CONGESTION PRICING

Officials are exploring possible solutions to end gridlock and overcrowding on city streets. One idea being given serious consideration is congestion pricing, a plan that would require you to pay to enter midtown. We have the details on the plan and the politics behind it.

Aired on October 19, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> WHAT IS THE OBSTACLE TO REBUILDING THE SUBWAY SYSTEM?

IT IS THE MONEY, HONEY, THAT'S WHAT IT IS ABOUT.

THE ONLY REALISTIC OPTION IS CONGESTION PRICING.

WE HAVE TO GET IT DONE, WE HAVE TO GET IT DONE NEXT YEAR.

I NEED YOUR HELP.

HELLO AND WELCOME TO METRO FOCUS.

THAT WAS GOVERNOR CUOMO SPEAKING EARLIER THIS MONTH, MAKING THE ARGUMENT THAT CONGESTION PRICING IS THE ONLY WAY TO PAY FOR THE HIGH COST TO FIX THE SUBWAY SYSTEM.

THE MTA SAYS THAT IDEA IS UNREALISTIC AND HAS CHOSEN TO MAKE CONGESTION PRICING ONE OF HIS TOP PRIORITIES.

DOES THAT MEAN THAT CONGESTION PRICING IS FINALLY COMING TO NEW YORK CITY.

AND THAT OUR FRUSTRATION FILLED WITH THE COLLAPSING SUBWAY SYSTEM MAY SOON BE OVER?

JOINING US NOW WITH ANSWERS IS TIMMY, WHO COVERS POLITICS FOR THE WALL STREET AND HAS BEEN REPORTING ON THIS STORY.

WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

FOR THOSE OF OUR VIEWERS WHO MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH CONGESTION PRICING, I WONDER IF YOU COULD START GIVING US A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF WHAT IT ENTAILS.

IT'S AN IDEA OF WHAT IS NOT NECESSARILY NEW, AND IT'S IMPLEMENTED IN OTHER CITIES AROUND THE WORLD, INCLUDING LONDON.

DRIVERS WHO ENTER THE MOST CONGESTED PART OF THE CITY WILL HAVE TO PAY A FEE FOR THAT PRIVILEGE.

ON ONE HAND YOU RAISE MONEY TO INVEST IN MASS TRANSIT IMPROVEMENTS, TO MAKE IT EASIER TO GO AROUND.

AND TWO, YOU DETER SOME PEOPLE FROM DRIVING IN.

ESPECIALLY AT PEAK HOURS WHEN THE CITY STREETS ARE THE MOST CLOGGED.

YOU SAY THIS HAS BEEN AROUND FOR A LONG TIME, IT'S BEEN AROUND FOR A LONG TIME IN NEW YORK.

IT'S BEEN ON SOMEONE'S AGENDA FOR AT L YEARS.

NOW IT'S ON THE GOVERNOR'S AGENDA.

AND IT'S SERIOUS.

THE GOVERNOR SAID THE TIME HAS COME FOR CONGESTION PRICING IN 2015.

AFTER THE SUMMER OF HELL WHEN THE CITY BEGAN TO FALTER.

HE CONVENED A PANEL, IT ISSUED A REPORT EARLY IN 2018 RECOMMENDING CONGESTION FEE ON DRIVERS ENTERING MANHATTAN, RECOMMENDED A SURCHARGE ON FOUR HIGHER VEHICLES LIKE UBER AND TAXICABS ON TRIPS THAT START AND END IN THAT PART OF MANHATTAN.

TO DO THINGS THAT WOULD HELP EASE THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

WHAT DIDN'T HAPPEN LAST YEAR WAS A CONCERTED LEGISLATIVE PUSH BY THE GOVERNOR DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

SO THE COST AFFECTING THE SUBWAY HAS BEEN ESTIMATED AT APPROXIMATELY $40 BILLION OVER THE NEXT 50 YEARS.

HOW MUCH OF THAT WILL BE COVERED REALISTICALLY WITH THE REVENUES FROM CONGESTED PRICING.

IT'S ALL GOING TO DEPEND ON THE EXACT SHAPE OF THE PROPOSAL AND LEGISLATION.

WHETHER OR NOT A PROPOSAL INCLUDES MONEY FOR THE CITY TO MAINTAIN THE EAST RIVER BRIDGES.

WHETHER OR NOT A PROPOSAL INCLUDES LOWERING TOLLS ON BRIDGES IN THE OUTER ER BOROUG WHICH HAS BEEN A POLITICAL BALANCING ACT FOR SOME TO TRY TO WIN SUPPORT FOR SOME IN THESE REGIONS.

THE ESTIMATE IS THAT A BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR COULD BE GENERATED NET FOR THE METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY.

IF YOU BOND THAT OUT, YOU COULD GENERATE A GOOD DEAL OF MONEY, BUT STILL NOT ALL THE 40 BILLION YOU WOULD NEED TO FUND THE FAST FORWARD PLAN, WHICH IS NOW BEING PUSHED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT.

NEW YORKERS FROM LONG ISLAND, THE OUTER BOROUGHS OR THE SUBURBS WHO RELY ON THEIR CARS TO COMMUTE TO THE CITY.

THEY'VE BEEN TYPICALLY AND UNDERSTANDABLY THE STRONGEST FORCE AGAINST CONGESTION PRICING.

THEY'RE THE REASON WHY IT DIED 10 YEARS AGO, WHEN BLOOMBERG TRIED TO PASS IT OR TRIED TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

IS THE GOVERNOR GOING TO HAVE BETTER LUCK WITH THE STATE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE SUBURBS AND THE OUTER ER BOROUGHS THISE AROUND?

WE'LL SEE, THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS THE GOVERNOR CAN DO TO BUILD SUPPORT IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.

HE COULD MAKE A CONGESTION PRICING PROPOSAL PART OF HIS BUDGET.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT HAS TO BE ADOPTED BY APRIL ONE THIS YEAR.

THE GOVERNOR HAS A GREAT DEAL OF POWER OVER DECIDING WHAT GETS PUT IN THE SPENDING PLAN, WHAT DOESN'T GET PUT IN THE SPENDING PLAN.

THERE HAVE BEEN COURT DECISIONS THAT HAVE REALLY STRENGTHED HIS HAND.

IF THE GOVERNOR DECIDES AS HE DID WITH OTHER POLICY PROPOSALS, LIKE RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE.

IF A GOVERNOR DECIDES TO PUT A CONGESTION PRICING PLAN INTO THAT SPENDING PROPOSAL.

HE COULD FORCE LAWMAKERS TO VOTE ON IT, ALONG WITH MORE POPULAR MEASURES LIKE SCHOOL AIDE INCREASES.

AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN CALLING FOR EQUAL SHARE OF THE EXPENSES, HE'S NOW ABANDONED THE IDEA OF MAKING THE SUBWAY SYSTEM PART OF THE STATE.

WHY?

IT HASN'T GOTTEN MUCH BACKING.

HE CONTROLS THE MTA AFTER SOME PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS WHERE HE TRIED TO SHIFT BLAME AND CLAIM HE DIDN'T HAVE CONTROL OF THE AUTHORITY, AND RECOGNIZE THAT HE NEEDS TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM.

SO ADVOCATES ARE CERTAINLY SAYING HE NEEDS TO TAKE OWNERSHIP, AND THEY'VE BEEN HEARTENED BY HIS LATEST COMMENTS.

WE HAVE ABOUT 15 SECONDS.

IS THIS GOING TO PASS NEXT YEAR?

AND ARE WE GOING TO SEE CONGESTION PRICING IN NEW YORK CITY?

I THINK THE BIGGEST ONUS IS ON GOVERNOR CUOMO.

THAT'S WHAT ADVOCATES SAY, LAWMAKERS SAY.

HE PUTS TOGETHER THE PACKAGE.

HE MAY HAVE IT, IF NOT, IT'S NOT.

WE'LL LEAVE IT AT THAT.

THANKS FOR COMING IN.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE FOR BEING HERE.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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