NEW YORK (PIX11) — Drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street will not have to worry about paying an extra price, at least for about a year.
The revelation came last night as part of a Democratic gubernatorial debate on CBS. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she’s holding off on congestion pricing.
While some drivers may breathe a sign of relief, transportation advocates are frustrated. Drivers are heading into lower Manhattan and midtown each day at levels pretty much equal to before the pandemic, but public transportation ridership has yet to catch up.
It has lead Gov. Hochul and Congressman Tom Suozzi— both seeking the Democratic nomination for governor—to the same conclusion during the debate.
“I support congestion pricing, but not now in the middle of this financial crisis we are facing,” Suozzi said.
Hochul added: “Now is not the right time.”
Both said they do not want to scare off office workers as the economy rebounds by charging them more money to drive into the city. Hochul said additional environmental review and “hurdles” from the federal government would make doing congestion pricing impossible for now anyway.
However, transit advocate Danny Pearlstein of the Rider Alliance said New Yorkers are ready.
“Ready for faster buses, more reliable subways, accessible stations, and we are ready for less driving,” he said.
Pearlstein feels the fees will push people back onto the trains and buses and the money generated will improve that public transportation. Other transit advocates, such as Danny Harris of Transportation Alternatives, also highlight what fewer vehicles on the road will mean for rising traffic deaths and injuries.
“New York City is having four years of raising traffic violence, this is also a national trend,” he said. “If you are forced to drive and spend around $10,000 a year on car-related payments because it’s the only option leaders have given you, then those leaders have failed.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams agrees, and was the only Democratic candidate on the stage to favor immediate implementation of congestion pricing.
“It’s important because of the climate, and because of the revenue we need to deal with so many issues,” Williams said.
However, drivers like Freddie Canals are skeptical. He is worried about the price of gas, and while he acknowledges congestion pricing may ease traffic around the city, overall he thinks it will cost him too much.
“It’ll be bad,” the taxi driver said. “If it’s for the taxi cabs it’ll be bad, because I have to go back-and-forth downtown two, three, four, five times per day.”
The MTA released a statement Wednesday, following the debate, that it was doing everything it could with the federal government to get congestion pricing up and running.