The mayor’s office unveiled the 10-point plan Tuesday.
“Working New Yorkers are struggling to get around our city — we can’t let another year pass without action that makes their lives easier. It’s now clear that there’s no way to address it without congestion pricing and other dedicated revenue streams. The time to act is now,” de Blasio said in a tweet.
The proposal includes a joint endorsement of congestion pricing in order to raise money for the MTA. That means congestion pricing is now on the fast track, with the two pushing the State Legislature to pass it by April 1.
Electronic tolling devices would be installed around Manhattan’s Central Business District. A surcharge would be applied to most drivers south of 61st Street, with some exemptions like emergency vehicles.
It’s a sudden reversal for the mayor. De Blasio always had one word for congestion pricing: No, reported CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
But somehow, some way, Cuomo got him to change his mind and hop on board.
The irony of doing such a gigantic deal with his “frenemy” was not lost on de Blasio.
“The governor and I have come to an agreement, and I think that’s a pretty momentous occasion,” de Blasio said.
It was a stunning reversal for de Blasio, who insisted for over four years that the only way to fix the subways to tax the rich – a millionaire’s tax. The Cuomo/De Blasio plan includes three taxes that they say will enable the MTA to raise $22 billion through bonds.
“The alternative to congestion pricing is really a fare increase, and it could be as high as 30 percent. I think that’s wrong,” Cuomo said in a radio interview Tuesday.
Under the plan:
- Congestion pricing brings in $1 billion, enough to reel in $15 billion in bonds
- A new internet tax – the so-called “Amazon tax” – will raise $320 million in New York City, enough for $5 billion in bonds
- A tax on marijuana sales will raise $125 million, enough for $2 billion in bonds
While state and city officials had plenty of details about tax revenue, they had few concrete details about how much people will pay to enter the central business district below 60th street and when they will pay it. Those are details lawmakers want to know before they vote.
“They’re being asked to vote without knowing what the new price will be, what the charge is going to be, what epople will to come into the central business district. Do you have any idea what that will be?” Kramer asked.
“Look, part of what will happen in the legislative process is determining what’s a fair way to move forward,” de Blasio said.
Cuomo was equally evasive.
“It will be different at different times of the day for different types of vehicles. We wll back into the toll once we know what the capital plan is,” Cuomo said. “We don’t yet know what the capital plan is. Once we have certainty, we can set the toll.”
What we do know is that as the price for his support, de Blasio got several promises in writing, including:
- A lockbox for the money
- Hardship exemptions
- Money for outerborough transit improvements
Cuomo and de Blasio want the legislature to approve the plan within a month: April 1 is D-day.
“If we don’t get this done now, we will rue the day,” de Blasio said.
The plan also calls for the six previously separate entities – the New York City Transit Authority, Long Island Railroad, Metro-North, MTA Capital Construction, MTA Bus and Staten Island Railway – to combine some common functions, such as construction management, engineering, human resources, advertising, etc. That restructuring is slated to be complete by June.
Other points include controlling MTA fare increases to inflationary increases of 2 percent a year, combating fare evasion, and an independent audit of the MTA, among other things.
MTA Acting Chair Fernando Ferrer said he “strongly endorses” the plan.
“This proposal is a holistic cure for much of what ails the MTA, and I hope to see it enacted swiftly for the benefit of our 8.5 million daily customers,” he said in a statement. “It builds on work we are already doing to improve service through aggressive action like the Subway Action Plan; reduce costs through innovative procurement and development models like those used on the LIRR Third Track and Double Track projects; and reduce spending through a mandate to all operating agencies. Best of all, if the legislature adopts this plan, riders will be spared a fare increase of 30 percent to fund necessary capital costs.”
The proposal still needs to be approved by the State Legislature.