New York City subway problems are so bad that a contentious plan for motorists to pay to drive in certain parts of Manhattan is resurfacing.
Congestion pricing is the “only realistic option” to secure the tens of billions needed to pay for subway upgrades, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week.
Republican Marc Molinaro, who is challenging the Democratic governor in his bid for a third term, called the idea of tolling vehicles that enter Manhattan south of 96th Street “an appropriate step” if more is done to contain the system’s capital and operating costs. Even Republican Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, who once voted against congestion pricing, is now open to it.
Sam Schwartz, a former New York City traffic commissioner, said he is more optimistic about congestion pricing’s legislative chances because 2019 is not an election year, and lawmakers may be more willing to tackle a controversial issue. Mr. Schwartz said the subway is in worse shape than in the late 1970s, but unlike then, the streets are also choked by proliferating vehicles.
“The best thing that can happen for this is for our elected officials to get stuck in traffic,” he said.
Andy Byford, the president of New York City Transit, is seeking support to fund a $40 billion, 10-year plan to modernize and upgrade the subway that has been plagued by delays and falling ridership. Mr. Byford says he is agnostic as to how the funds are raised.
Legislators didn’t act this year on a larger congestion-pricing plan but as part of the current state budget they approved roughly $400 million from a surcharge on for-hire vehicles such as taxis, Uber and Lyft, entering the most traffic-choked parts of Manhattan.
A congestion charge on vehicles could raise a further $1 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subway. Advocates are calling on Mr. Cuomo to include a congestion toll in his proposed state budget next year, if he is re-elected.
Assemblyman David Weprin, a Queens Democrat, said congestion pricing wouldn’t raise enough money for the MTA and he would prefer a gasoline tax. “There are a lot of proposals we should be considering before we consider charging middle-class people who drive into Manhattan,” he said.
Read more at WSJ.