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Cuomo Creates Panel To Study NYC Congestion Pricing

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting together a task force to study congestion pricing and other ideas for fixing New York City’s traffic.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained, possible tolls on East River bridges are just the start.

Announced on Thursday, the “Fix NYC” panel will recommend solutions to traffic congestion and the funding challenges facing the city’s subway and bus systems.

“New York City is home to some of the most gridlocked streets in the nation and with this new advisory panel, we take a major step forward in coming up with a real solution to tackle the issue of congestion while helping to fund mass transit moving forward,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Congestion pricing would charge motorists more for entering the most congested parts of New York City. The idea is to discourage vehicular traffic in dense urban areas while also raising money for mass transit.

“It introduces a user fee to come into the central business district, it provides a lot of revenue for roads and bridges and transit,” traffic engineer Sam Schwartz, who is on the committee, told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

But many drivers didn’t seem happy with the idea which has been hotly debated for a decade.

“It’s insane,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “It wouldn’t work for us. It would probably work for them.”

“That’s so miserable,” said another man. “No one could afford this with all the high taxes and all the expense of this life here being in the city.”

Sources told CBS2 that possibilities for raising money include; a gas tax hike, the elimination of free street parking, a hired car surcharge for services like Uber and Lyft, delivery truck surcharges, and congestion fees that would include tolls on East River bridges.

Sources said the bridge tolls might only be in place during rushhour.

“The only direction we got so far is; solve the traffic problem. We have a terrible traffic problem, and solve the transit problem,” Sam Schwartz said.

Schwartz — Gridlock Sam — has been calling for toll on East River bridges for decades. He’s the expert behind a Move NY plan that will also be on the table.

He told CBS2’s Kramer about a surprising feature of his proposal.

Drivers coming into the city on the George Washington Bridge will have to pay the congestion fee, but not those who use the Holland or Lincoln tunnels.

“I managed traffic in New York City for many years,” he said, “I would rather the densest place we have in the United States keep their traffic on the other side of the river.”

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a congestion pricing plan several years ago, but it quickly ran into opposition. Mayor Bill de Blasio has criticized the idea.

The panel will report its recommendations in December. The new tolls will require an environmental impact statement which could take years.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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