NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has laid down the gauntlet, offering lawmakers stark and grim choices to save the Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Congestion pricing or an eye-popping a 30-percent fare increase.
With overcrowded trains, unconscionable delays and broken signals, Cuomo says the MTA is in a state of crisis that must end now.
“We can’t punt. For decades we’ve punted this problem, administration after administration after administration,” Cuomo said.
The governor used a fancy PowerPoint presentation to tell hundreds of the city’s movers and shakers, state lawmakers and, most of all, the commuting public that the time has come to make one of two hard-to-swallow choices.
“The real choice is between congestion pricing or a 30 percent MTA toll and fare increase,” Cuomo said.
The 30 percent hike would be on top of the increase that’s now on the table. The current plan would raise the $2.75 fare to $3, which would go to $4 without congestion pricing.
The governor also wants other changes, including a wholesale MTA management overhaul to give someone — namely him — total control.
“It will ruffle feathers. It will disturb the bureaucracy, no doubt,” the governor said.
The threat of a 30 percent fare hike caught Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris by surprise when he was asked about it on CBSN New York.
“I think the governor is being a little creative to identify the scope of the problem for people and encourage them to focus on congestion pricing as a solution, and hopefully it will never come anything close to that,” Gianaris said.
Riders hope so, too.
“Four dollars? I think $3 is way too much that they’re talking about $2.75. People are struggling, waiting at the turnstile for someone to help them, give them money or swipe them because they cant afford it,” said Lisa Lamarati of Long Island City.
“That would be terrible. I don’t like how much I pay already,” added Andrew Thomas of Far Rockaway.
When asked what it would mean to pay $4, Andrew Amore of Park Slope said. “Another cup of coffee, another slice of pizza. It takes away from me, takes it out of my pocket. You work hard for that money.”
The governor upped the ante Thursday to convince reluctant lawmakers that congestion pricing makes the most sense. Lawmakers have until the end of next month to give it a green light.