NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new study defends congestion pricing – and is likely to be music to the ears of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the financially-pressed Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the study says only a small percentage of people will actually be hurt by congestion pricing.
“The vast majority of people traveling into the central business district of Manhattan every single day were taking mass transit,” said Nick Sifuentes of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
Thus, Sifuentes said only a small percentage of drivers in the entire metro area will pay.
“Our data also shows that the people who would pay a toll are actually folks who are more well-off than those who take mass transit,” he said.
The group analyzed census data in all five boroughs Long Island, Westchester County, and several counties to the north. They found that many who live far from subways and mass transit do not actually enter the central business district, and so would not have to pay a fee no matter what Cuomo and the Legislature agree to.
“We also found that Manhattan has the highest number of people who drive or take taxis to work,” Sifuentes said. “Driving is a choice, and that’s fine. But if you choose to drive into the most transit-dense area of North America, then you should pay for that right.”
The governor’s task force wants to charge drivers $11.52 for entering a zone that stretches from 60th Street south to the Battery. It would be $25.34 for trucks.
Passengers using ride-hailing apps such as Uber would pay a surcharge of $2 to $5.
Kramer asked Mayor Bill de Blasio if the findings would lessen his opposition to congestion pricing.
“We don’t know if this comes with guarantees and a lock box that the money will be used in New York City for our subways and buses,” de Blasio said. “You will forgive me, Marcia, if I’m a little skeptical given the history of many decades of Albany not always being responsive to the needs of New York City.”
Not everyone agrees with the group’s analysis, saying it does not paint the whole picture. They also point out that drivers have other expenses besides tolls – including gas and parking.
Meanwhile newly sworn-in New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson also campaigned for congestion pricing Tuesday morning.
During the Assocation for a Better New York power breakfast at the New York Marriott Marquis, Johnson declared the subway system has now reached its breaking point.
“Our failure to address this crisis could literately be our undoing,” he said.
The council speaker beat the drum hard for congestion pricing and received applause from the well-heeled crowd, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
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“We need new, smart, sustainable revenue streams, and one piece of that puzzle is congestion pricing,” he said. “We need congestion pricing this year, this legislative session.”
Johnson told his influential audience, “I’m here to get things done, but I can’t do it alone.”
“I need your help to convince the State Legislature that congestion pricing is the right thing to do,” he added.