Congestion Pricing Plan Now in Limbo as Hochul Takes Over

NEW YORK -
This photo from Tuesday Nov. 21, 2017, shows traffic going to New York City at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in Weehawken, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

MTA officials say they are “aggressively” pursuing plans to implement congestion pricing even as it is not yet clear if incoming governor Kathy Hochul is supportive, CBS 2 reported.

“We are collaboratively along with state DOT, working very closely with the Federal Highway Administration to nail down a really aggressive schedule for the environmental process. It’s gonna deliver congestion pricing promptly,” said Acting Head of the MTA Janno Lieber.

Once a schedule is finalized, it will take 16 months to complete an environmental review. “Sixteen months for a project that’s not one line, but that encompasses 28 counties, 22 million people, and the most extensive outreach, including environmental justice outreach, that has ever been done,” Lieber said.

Hochul, however, is from upstate New York, where cars are the default mode of transportation and new fees are frowned upon. It is not yet clear how she will approach the congestion plan, which would charge commuters a fee to enter the Manhattan’s Central Business District. Hochul will also have the power to decide to keep or to boot Governor Andrew Cuomo’s appointees to the MTA board.

A spokesperson for Hochul said, “Lieutenant Gov. Hochul has supported congestion pricing in the past, but the pace and timing is something she will need to evaluate further, given the constantly changing impact of COVID-19 on commuters.”

MTA officials are optimistic Hochul will support congestion pricing.

“In fairness to her, she’s putting her team together. She’s getting briefed on the issues. We’ve got to give her a chance get a little more background before we speculate on what her views on any of these issues are,” Lieber said.

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smarcus@hamodia.com