BRILLIANT IDEA OR BAD SOLUTION?

January 02, 2019 at 4:30 am

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 December 14, 2018 & January 1, 2019.

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>>> 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.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>>> THAT WAS GOVERNOR ANDREW
CUOMO MAKING THE ARGUMENT THAT
CONGESTION PRICING IS THE ONLY
WAY TO PAY THE HIGH COST OF
FIXING THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY
SYSTEM.
CUOMO, WHO HAS LONG CALLED FOR
THE CITY TO, QUOTE, PAY ITS
SHARE FOR THE MTA, NOW SAYS THAT
THAT IDEA IS UNREALISTIC AND HAS
PROMISED TO MAKE CONGESTION
PRICING ONE OF HIS TOP
PRIO
PRIORITIES.
DOES THAT MEAN CONGESTION
PRICING IS FINALLY COMING TO NEW
YORK CITY AND THAT OUR
FRUSTRATIONS OVER THE COLLAPSING
SUBWAY SYSTEM MAY BE OVER?
JOINING US WITH ANSWERS IS JIMMY
VILKIND WHO COVERS NEW YORK
POLITICS FOR THE "WALL STREET
JOURNAL."
WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.
>> HAPPY TO BE HERE.
>> FOR THOSE OF OUR VIEWERS WHO
MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH
CONGESTION PRICING, I WONDER IF
YOU COULD START BY GIVING US A
BRIEF EXPLANATION OF WHAT IT
ENTAILS?
>> IT'S AN IDEA THAT IS NOT
NECESSARILY NEW AND HAS BEEN
IMLIMITED IN OTHER CITIES AROUND
THE WORLD.
DRIVERS WHO ENTER THE MOST
CONGESTED PART OF A CITY, ITS
CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT, WILL
HAVE TO PAY A FEE FOR THAT
PRIVILEGE.
THE IDEA IS TWOFOLD -- ON THE
ONE HAND YOU RAISE MONEY TO
INVEST IN MASS TRANSIT
IMPROVEMENTS, INVEST IN OTHER
MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION 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 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 SOMEBODY'S AGENDA
FOR TEN YEARS BUT NOW IT'S IN
THE GOVERNOR'S AGENDA AND THAT'S
SERIOUS.
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
THE GOVERNOR SAID THE TIME HAS
COME FOR CONGESTION PRICING IN
2017 WHEN SERVICE BEGAN TO
NOTICEABLY FALTER.
HE CONVENED A PANEL CALLED THE
FIX NYC PANEL.
IT ISSUED A REPORT RECOMMENDING
A CONGESTION FEE ON DRIVERS
ENTERING MANHATTAN SOUTH OF
CENTRAL PARK.
RECOMMENDING A SURCHARGE ON
FOR-HIRE VEHICLES LIKE UBER,
LYFTS, AND TAXICABS ON TRIPS
THAT START AND END IN THAT PART
OF MANHATTAN AND OTHER
ENFORCEMENT MEASURES TO DO
THINGS THAT WOULD EASE IS FLOW
OF TRAFFIC THROUGHOUT THE CITY.
WHAT DIDN'T HAPPEN LAST YEAR WAS
A CONCERTED LEGISLATIVE PUSH BY
THE GOVERNOR DURING THE
LEGISLATIVE SESSION.
>> THE COST OF FIXING THE SUBWAY
HAS BEEN ESTIMATED TO BE
APPROXIMATELY $40 BILLION OVER
TEN YEARS.
HOW MUCH OF THAT WILL BE COVERED
WITH THE REVENUES FROM
CONGESTION PRICING?
>> IT WILL DEPEND ON THE EXACT
SHAPE OF THE PROPOSAL AND THE
LEGISLATION.
WHETHER OR NOT A PROPOSAL
INCLUDES MONEY FOR THE CITY TO
MAINTAIN THE EAST RIVER BRIDGES
LIKE THE BROOKLYN, MANHATTAN AND
WILLIAMSBURG BRIDGES.
WHETHER OR NOT A PROPOSAL
INCLUDES LOWERING TOLLS ON
BRIDGES IN THE OUTER BOROUGHS,
PERHAPS THE VERRAZANO NARROWS
CROSSING WHICH HAS BEEN A TACTIC
TO WIN SUPPORT.
BUT THE ESTIMATE IS ABOUT A
BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR COULD BE
GENERATED NET FOR THE PET POLL
TAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY.
IF YOU BOND THAT OUT YOU COULD
GENERATE A GOOD DEAL OF MONEY
BUT NOT ALL OF THE $40 BILLION
YOU WOULD NEED TO FUND THE
FAST-FORWARD PLAN WHICH IS BEING
PUSHED BY THE PRESIDENT OF 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.
IT'S THE REASON -- THEY'RE THE
REASON WHY IT DID TEN YEARS AGO
WHEN BLOOMBERG TRIED TO PASS IT
TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
IS THE GOVERNOR GOING TO HAVE
BETTER LUCK WITH THE STATE
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE SUBURBS
AND OUTER BOROUGH THS THIS TIME
AROUND?
>> WE'LL SEE.
THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS THEY
COULD DO.
HE COULD MAKE A CON JESS PRICING
PROPOSAL PART OF HIS BUDGET.
THE BUDGET HAS TO BE ADOPTED BY
APRIL 1 EACH YEAR AND THE WAY
THE LAW IS SET UP, THE GOVERNOR
HAS A GREAT DEAL OF POWER OVER
DECIDING WHAT GETS PUT IN THE
SPENDING PLAN AND WHAT DOESN'T.
THERE HAVE BEEN COURT DECISIONS
THAT HAVE STRENGTHENED HIS HAND
IN THAT PROCESS SO IF THE
GOVERNOR DECIDES AS HE DID WITH
OTHER PROPOSALS IN RECENT YEARS
LIKE RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE,
IF HE DECIDES TO PUT A
CONGESTION PRICING SBLOON THAT
SPENDING PROPOSAL HE COULD FORCE
LAWMAKERS TO VOTE ON IT ALONG
WITH MORE POPULAR MEASURES LIKE
APPROVING SCHOOL AID INCREASES.
>> SO AS I SAID IN THE
INTRODUCTION, FOR A LONG TIME
THE GOVERNOR HAS BEEN CALLING
FOR EQUAL SHARE OF THE EXPENSES
OF THE SUBWAY SYSTEM BETWEEN THE
STATE AND THE CITY.
HE'S ABANDONED THAT IDEA.
WHY?
>> WELL, IT HASN'T GOTTEN HIM
MUCH.
AND ALSO I THINK THE GOVERNOR'S
STATEMENT IS A RECOGNITION THAT
HE CONTROLS THE MTA AFTER
PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS WHERE HE TRIED
TO SHIFT BLAME AND CLAIM HE
DIDN'T HAVE CONTROL OF THE
AUTHORITY THAT OPERATES THE
SUBWAYS AND RECOGNIZE THAT HE
NEEDS TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM.
SO ADVOCATES ARE SAYING THAT HE
NEEDS TO TAKE OWNERSHIP AND THEY
HAVE 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 NEXT YEAR?
>> I THINK THE BIGGEST ONUS IS
ON GOVERNOR CUOMO.
THAT'S WHAT ADVOCATES SAY,
THAT'S WHAT LAWMAKERS SAY.
IF HE EMPLOYS HIS POLITICAL
SKILLS, IT MAY HAPPEN.
IF NOT, NOT.
>> ALL RIGHT, WE'LL LEAVE IT AT,
THAT THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING
US TODAY.
>> THANKS, ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO
BE HERE.

Mutual of America PSEG

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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