If congestion pricing is going to resurface as a viable option to relieve traffic, help plug the enormous gap in the MTA capital program, and keep transit fares from ballooning in the years ahead, it won’t come from the Bloomberg administration.
Testifying in Albany on Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal today, Bloomberg said he won’t get involved in a renewed push for congestion pricing, WNYC’s Azi Paybarah reports:
“I’m not going to come back and fight that battle,” said Bloomberg, citing the political risk City Council members took in supporting it, only to see it die in Albany without a vote.
Later, when asked if congestion pricing as a “dead” issue, Bloomberg told reporters it’s up to state lawmakers to come up with a way to fund the state’s mass transit’s needs, saying, he is “not going to stand up and campaign for it.”
Bloomberg’s answer comes shortly after a vaguely-sourced report in the Daily News indicated that some form of congestion pricing is back on the table. The story was apparently enough provocation to get a small group of Queens and Brooklyn pols to preemptively declare this weekend that they still oppose congestion pricing.
The roster of opponents will be very familiar to readers who recall the 2007-08 congestion pricing saga (Tony Avella, David Weprin, the Queens Civic Congress, Marty Markowitz). Their core strategy hasn’t changed either. They still contend, contrary to the data on the city’s commute habits, that funding transit by ending the free ride for the select group of New Yorkers who car commute into Manhattan isn’t fair to the middle class. Never mind that the city’s demographics are trending towards even greater reliance on transit in the boroughs these pols represent.
It does appear, however, that they will need to find a more appropriate venue than the steps outside City Hall to hold their press events.