Advocates Hold Rally On Upper West Side As Assembly Speaker Heastie Says Controversial Plan May Very Well Move Forward


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — State lawmakers are voicing support for congestion pricing — the plan to charge vehicles a fee to enter parts of Manhattan.

On Tuesday, advocates rallied on the Upper West Side, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.

It looks like the controversial proposal may soon be getting the green light.

“We are very close of getting congestion pricing in New York City and we will be able to fund the subway, to fix the subway,” said Erwin Figueroa, senior organizer at Transportation Alternatives.

That’s the idea behind the plan to charge a fee to drivers entering Midtown near 60th street and use the money to improve the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s crumbling subway system.

“Not only is it about the transit system, but it’s also about making the streets saner and safer. The more cars you have on the street the more dangerous the street is. No cars, no crashes,” Transportation Alternatives spokesman Joe Cutrufo said.

Advocates rallied on the Upper West Side to thank elected officials that are on board with the plan, including the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who told CBS2, “I think we’re at the point where Assembly members understand the need to fund the MTA. And we still have some details to work out, but I would safely say the Assembly is ready to go forward on congestion pricing.”

MOREState Senators To Gov. Cuomo: Without Knowing All Details, It’s Not Right To Vote On Idea Of Congestion Pricing

Congestion pricing is a key part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 million state budget, but it has been met with opposition, especially from drivers.

“Why should I have to pay to work? Why should I have to pay even more? I pay enough in tolls,” Nick Speranza said.

The governor has warned if congestion pricing is not approved, subway and bus fares would go up. However, some feel there are other ways to make up the money for the MTA.

“I think we should actually stop fare evasion, which is about $375,000 a day, which is one thing, cut the salaries of the board of the MTA and renegotiate union contracts because that’s where the money is,” said Upper West Side resident Robert Josman.

“The reality is most of us rely on public transportation. Without fixing the state of our trains and buses we will not have the kind of city we deserve,” said Hilda Chazanovitz of the group “Families for Safe Streets.”

Key details of the plan remain unclear, including exactly how much the toll would be. Advocates are trying to reach a deal on congestion pricing before the state’s April 1 budget deadline, so the clock is ticking.

Some lawmakers are pushing for the congestion fee to aid the MTA as a whole, including Long Island and Hudson Valley commuters, not just people who live in the city.