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Manhattan Congestion Pricing One Step Closer To Passing

March 26, 2019 - 11:52 am
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Congestion pricing is one step closer to reality in Albany.

With the April 1 budget deadline looming, the Democrat-controlled state assembly has put its support behind the plan to charge drivers who enter the zone in Midtown Manhattan during rush hours.

Motorists driving south of 61st Street would automatically pay the toll, which is estimated to be as high as $12.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Monday that some details are still being worked out, but his chamber has the votes to pass the measure.

Democrats also control the state Senate, but Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins hasn’t issued a definitive statement on congestion pricing.

Suburban members of her conference have been pushing for investments in Metro-North and the LIRR, and claim they cannot support the plan in it's current form.

Still, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on public radio's WNYC Tuesday morning that he's “cautiously optimistic” that the plan will be included in the new state budget.

Cuomo warns that without tolls, transit fares will increase to raise the billions of dollars needed for the aging subway system.

Transportation Alternatives' Joe Cutrufo, a supporter, notes that this is the closest congestion pricing has ever come to reality and noted, "I'm not going to prognosticate about the votes. I think there's some negotiations happening in Albany right now. And we're going to come out of this with maybe some compromise. But we need to get this done. The toll that the status quo takes on New York right now is unacceptable."

Queens Democratic Assemblymember David Weprin, an opponent, claims this is not a plan to deal with congestion, noting it doesn't deal with "Uber, and Lyft and Juno, and app-based TLC plates that are circulating all over Midtown Manhattan" and "it doesn't define an amount that it's going to start out, it doesn't say how much it could be raised, it doesn't even discuss whether the zone could be expanded."

The MTA says congestion pricing would net enough money to fund at least $15 billion worth of modernization projects in the coming years.