BUDGETS, CONGESTION PRICING, & TOLLS!

New York State’s $175.5 billion budget has passed. From congestion pricing, to a plastic bag ban, and toll hikes that will bring you into Staten Island for $19, we have a breakdown of what this means for you and your family in dollars and common sense.

Aired on April 1, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

THIS WAS A BOLD, AGGRESSIVE, HARD AGENDA.

WE'VE DONE AGENDAS BEFORE WHERE WE HAD ONE OR TWO BIG THINGS, AND WE FOCUSED ON GETTING ONE OR TWO BIG THINGS, MARRIAGE EQUALITY, $15 MINIMUM WAGE.

THIS HAS FIVE OR SIX MAJOR DIFFICULT LONG-TERM ISSUES THAT HAD TO BE DEALT WITH, AND IT DEALS WITH THEM IN A FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE WAY.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

AFTER WEEKS OF FIGHTING IN ALBANY, GOVERNOR CUOMO AND THE DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY HAVE A BUDGET DEAL.

THE $175 BILLION AGREEMENT HAPPENED SUNDAY.

JUST AHEAD OF THE BUDGET'S APRIL 1 DEADLINE.

A FIRST IN THE NATION CONGESTION PLAN TO HELP FUND A VARIETY OF SHORTFALLS.

ELECTRONIC TOLLS WILL BE INSTALLED IN MANHATTAN, WHICH WILL CHARGE DRIVERS AS THEY PASS INTO MIDTOWN BELOW 60th STREET.

THE TOLLS REPORTEDLY DO NOT GO INTO EFFECT UNTIL 2021 AT THE EARLIEST, WITH A LARGE CHUNK OF THE MONEY HELPING TO OVERHAUL SOME OF NEW YORK'S AILING SUBWAYS.

OTHER HIKES INCLUDE CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND THE GOVERNOR SAYS CASH BAIL WILL BE ELIMINATED FOR ABOUT 90% OF THE CASES.

THE STATE IS ALSO BANNING SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS AND A PROPERTY TAX CAP OF 2% AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A NEW SYSTEM TO HELP FINANCE CAMPAIGNS STATEWIDE WHICH SOME ACTIVISTS ARE ALREADY CALLING HALF HEARTED.

ONE ITEM THAT DID NOT MAKE INTO IT THE BUDGET, LEGAL RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA.

ADVOCATES HOPED IT WOULD, BUT LEGALIZATION COULD STILL HAPPEN IN THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

CONGESTION PRICING WILL COST AS MUCH AS $12 FOR COMMUTER, THAT IN ADDITION TO TOLLS.

AS FOR TOLLS, STICKER SHOCK WAS THE TALK OF THE TOWN THIS MORNING AS HIKES WENT INTO EFFECT FOR BRIDGES AND TUNNELS YESTERDAY.

THE VERRAZANO BRIDGE NOW COSTS A WHOPPING $19 TO ENTER STATEN ISLAND.

AND FOR THOSE COMMUTERS RIDING THE RAILS AND BUS, GET READY FOR A COMING INCREASE.

THAT STICKER SHOCK HITS YOUR WALLET ON APRIL 21st.

SO WHAT ARE WE LOOKING AT IN TERMS OF DOLLARS, CENTS, AND THE PAYOFF, IF ANY OF THESE INCREASES?

FOR ANSWER, JACK FORD RECENTLY SAT DOWN WITH CURB NEW YORK EDITOR AMY PLITT AND BEGAN THE CONVERSATION BY ASKING WHY THE MTA THOUGHT THE INCREASES WERE NECESSARY.

SHORT ANSWER TO THAT IS THE MTA NEEDS MONEY.

WE'VE HEARD THAT LINE BEFORE, HAVEN'T WE?

WE'VE HEARD THAT BEFORE.

THE MTA ALWAYS NEEDS MONEY.

THE MTA HAS $39 BILLION IN DEBT.

THE MTA HAS SUCH ISSUES SORT OF GETTING THE MONEY THAT'S NECESSARY TO RUN THE SUBWAY, THE REPAIR THE SUBWAYS, THE INCORPORATE ALL THEIR PROJECTS.

FARE INCREASES ARE A NECESSARY EVIL TO MAKE SURE THEY HAVE ENOUGH CASH ON HAND.

LET'S GO THROUGH SOME OF THE CATEGORIES.

SURE.

WE'LL START WITH THE RAILS.

WHAT ARE WE SEEING IN TERMS OF RAILS INCREASES?

SURE.

SO SUBWAY BASE FARES ARE GOING TO STAY THE SAME, WHICH IS GOOD.

THE PARATRANSIT, SERVICE BY USED BY PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES IS GOING TO STAY THE SAME, WHICH A LOT OF PEOPLE WERE FIGHTING REALLY HARD FOR, AND THAT'S GOOD NEWS.

UNLIMITED METROCARDS ARE GOING UP.

IT WAS PREVIOUSLY $121 FOR MONTHLY.

NOW IT'S $127.

IT WAS $32 FOR WEEKLY UNLIMITED.

NOW IT WILL BE $33.

AND COMMUTER RAIL, THERE ARE GOING TO BE ALL KINDS OF INCREASES DEPENDING ON LINES.

HUDSON ON THE METRO NORTH WILL SEE FARE INCREASES.

HARLEM LINE, ALL THE DIFFERENT LONG ISLAND RAILROAD.

IT DEPENDS ON WHICH LINE.

HOW ABOUT BUSES?

BUSES ARE GOING TO HAVE THE SAME BASE RATE AS THEY HAVE BEFORE, WHICH IS 275.

THE EXPRESS BUS FARES ARE GOING TO GO UP.

THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY ABOUT $6.25.

AND NOW IT'S GOING TO BE $6.50 ACROSS THE BOARD.

AND I MENTIONED BRIDGE CALLS.

I MENTIONED THE VERRAZANO BRIDGE.

WHAT ARE WE SEEING ACROSS THE BOARD TOLL INCREASES?

BRIDGE TOLLS, IT'S INTERESTING.

THE BRIDGE TOLLS FOR THE MOST PART ARE GOING UP BY ABOUT 40 CENTS.

BUT THE VERRAZANO IS AN EXCEPTION.

IT IS GOING UP BY $2.

IT WAS 17 BEFORE AND NOW $19.

DO WE KNOW WHY?

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT AND SOME OF THE OTHERS?

NOT 100% SURE.

THAT'S A REAL PAIN POINT FOR STATEN ISLANDERS AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO GO IN AND OUT OF THE BOROUGH EVERY DAY THAT IT'S GOING TO BE GOING UP THAT MUCH.

IF YOU LOOK AT NUMBER, IF YOU'RE A COMMUTER COMING IN, THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY YOU'RE SPENDING TO GET TO YOUR JOB.

IT IS.

IT'S LESS IF YOU USE E-ZPASS, BUT 19 IS QUITE A LOT.

WHAT SORT OF REACTION AND PUSHBACK ARE WE GETTING FROM COMMUTERS?

I DON'T THINK COMMUTERS ARE HAPPY.

THE MTA SAYS THAT SUBWAY PERFORMANCE IS BETTER.

THEY'RE HAVING FEWER WEEKDAY DELAYS THAN LAST YEAR.

THEIR ON-TIME PERFORMANCE IS BETTER THAN LAST YEAR.

BETTER BEING A RELATIVE CONCEPT.

BETTER BEING A RELATIVE CONCEPT.

WELL ALL KNOW THAT LAST YEAR AND 2017 WERE PARTICULARLY BAD YEARS FOR THE SUBWAY SYSTEM.

SO THAT -- THE MTA SAYS OUR SERVICE IS GETTING BETTER.

COMMUTERS AREN'T NECESSARILY FEELING IT.

BUS SERVICE IS REALLY BAD.

IT'S VERY SLOW.

THERE IS JUST A LOT OF ISSUES THERE AS WELL.

SO I THINK COMMUTERS REALLY ARE NOT PLEASED ABOUT THIS.

BUT LIKE I SAID BEFORE, IT IS A NECESSARY EVIL.

IT'S JUST AN UNFORTUNATE CONSEQUENCE OF THE MTA SORT OF ALWAYS HAVING THESE BUDGET SHORTFALLS.

IS ANYBODY SAYING OR IS ANYBODY BELIEVING THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE THE FIX.

NO.

THAT THE MTA IS SAY NOW WE GOT THE MONEY WE NEED TO DO OUR PROJECTS AND CATCH UP.

IS ANYBODY BELIEVING THAT?

AGAIN, SHORT ANSWER IS NO.

I THINK IT'S PROBABLY VERY LIKELY WE WILL SEE MORE FARE INCREASES IN THE FUTURE JUST BECAUSE THERE ARE ONLY SO MANY PLACES THE MTA CAN GET MONEY FROM.

AND RAISING RATES REALLY IS ONE OF THEM, AND HAS PROVEN TO BE CONSISTENTLY THE ONE THAT THEY TURN TO OR HAVE TO TURN TO TIME AND TIME AGAIN.

WE JUST SAW FARES GO UP TWO YEARS AGO.

ARE WE SEEING ANY PLANS OR HEARING ABOUT ANY PLANS FROM THE MTA THAT WILL ALLOW THEM TO SOMEHOW PUT A LID ON ALL THIS TO RAISE THE MONEY THEY NEED?

OR ARE THEY CONSTANTLY GOING TO BE CHASING FARE HIKES?

I THINK THEY'RE TRYING TO FIND OUTSIDE SOURCES OF REVENUE.

LAWMAKERS, GOVERNOR CUOMO WERE REALLY UNHAPPY ABOUT THIS LATEST ROUND OF FARE HIKES AND WERE PUSHING BACK ON THE NOTION THAT WE NEED TO CONSTANTLY INCREASE FARE.

A LOT GOING ON OUT THERE.

AND AS I SAID BEFORE, IT'S ALWAYS HELPFUL WHEN WE GET TO CHAT WITH YOU AMY.

WELL GET A BETTER UNDERSTANDING.

AS THIS ALL PLAYS OUT, WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING WITH YOU AGAIN DOWN THE ROAD.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

YOU TAKE CARE.

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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