Mayor Bill de Blasio

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

Mayor Would Support Congestion Pricing With ‘Hardship Exemptions’

February 11, 2019 - 4:20 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mayor Bill de Blasio testified Monday that he would support a congestion pricing measure, so long as it had “hardship exemptions” for certain drivers.

The MTA is in dire need of new funding to sustain the current service and expand the system over the next five years.

Beginning in 2020, the MTA is expected to see $510 million in deficits. That number is expected to grow to $1 billion by 2022.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed to install a congestion pricing plan in Manhattan to help fund the financially burdened agency. He has claimed that congestion pricing would bring in $15 billion over the course of 10 years.

Mayor de Blasio has generally preferred the millionaire’s tax plan, or a mix of a few different options.

Though, during testimony on the state’s budget, de Blasio pressured state lawmakers into finding new revenue sources for the MTA and spoke in support of congestion pricing, so long as it had certain carve-outs for drivers.

One example he provided would be an exemption for patients traveling to hospitals within the congestion pricing zone.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Robert Carroll immediately took issue with the exemptions, saying a plan such as that cannot generate enough money.

“To be perfectly blunt, I think it is disingenuous to say that you would support a congestion pricing plan, and then, talk about the number of carve-outs that you suggested today because we know that at the end of the day, with those carve-outs, we will end up raising not nearly enough revenue,” the assemblyman said.

The mayor called his concerns “real and tangible.”

“Well, assembly member, look, I appreciate your honesty, I would disagree with you, respectfully. I don't think it's disingenuous in the least. I'm someone who has had real concerns about the different plans to put forward,” de Blasio responded.

Carroll kept interrupting the mayor, at one point saying, “congestion pricing is being carved to death.”

The mayor disagreed and acknowledged that funding for the MTA will need to come from a variety of sources.

Carroll, who represents the 44th District of the New York State Assembly, has been a vocal critic of the congestion pricing plan, and has repeatedly pushed for further specifics.

The assemblyman has also proposed a $3 shipping fee to be added to all packages delivered within the five boroughs to help fund the transit agency.

The Legislature has until April 1 to add congestion pricing to the state budget.