Chris Quinn: “I Don’t Anticipate Congestion Pricing Coming Back Around”

Dana Rubinstein reports that City Council speaker and current mayoral front-runner Christine Quinn is bearish on congestion pricing’s political prospects:

“I don’t anticipate congestion pricing coming back around,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told an audience at New York Law School today, when asked about its near-term future. “It didn’t do well and I don’t expect that proposal to come back around in that way.”

Is this disappointing? Sure, it would be great news for New York City if a mayoral candidate ran in support of the single most transformative traffic and transit policy out there. And Quinn, who helped shepherd congestion pricing through the City Council in 2007 and 2008, is one of two contenders with a voting record in support of it. (The other is John Liu, who voted for congestion pricing when he was a City Council member representing Flushing, then turned around and opposed bridge tolls in 2009, when he had a citywide campaign to worry about. Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, voted against congestion pricing but is on the record supporting East River bridge tolls pegged to the subway fare.)

But is this significant? Well, I don’t think it means a whole lot.

Noted congestion pricing champion Michael Bloomberg, for instance, never campaigned on congestion pricing. He floated East River bridge tolls in 2002, a month after getting elected for the first time, but stopped pressing for them after then-governor George Pataki ruled out the idea. Running for re-election in 2005, Bloomberg again didn’t make congestion pricing a campaign issue, but it turned out to be his single biggest policy initiative in 2007 and 2008. Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer backed the idea, and if he wasn’t such a weak-willed dirtbag, who knows, he might have steamrolled congestion pricing through Albany.

So mayoral candidates aren’t going to campaign on road pricing, even if they believe in it, and in the end, the person who has the most power to make it happen is the governor. If the NYC region is going to get a rationally priced road network and a well-funded transit system, it’s up to Andrew Cuomo to get things started — from the looks of it, preferably sometime after the mayoral election.

  • Well if Spitzer is a weak-willed dirtbag, what is Cuomo, then? A strong-willed dirtbag?

  • CapNY updated their piece with a statement from Quinn. Far more encouraging, in my opinion, since she’s really only commenting on the political reality of getting it passed.  It’s also in line with what Ben wrote: the power to pass it lies with the governor.

    “I supported congestion pricing. I support congestion pricing. I do not see it coming back in Albany but my support for congestion pricing has not changed.”

  • Bolwerk

    I’m not sure I would call Spitzer weak-willed. A dirtbag, sure, but Quinn and most of her opponents are no less odious for reasons that have nothing to do with sexuality or choking hookers. 

  • NYC Mayor dos not need Albany permission to impose congestion “pricing”.  

    All one need do is have city vehicles (police cars, DOT trucks) drive around, several abreast, reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal slowly…

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Will Congestion Pricing Make or Break Mayoral Campaigns?

|
While we wait to see what happens, or doesn’t happen, today in Albany, New York Magazine takes a look at four mayoral aspirants and how their positions on congestion pricing may affect their chances of succeeding Michael Bloomberg. City Council Member Tony Avella: "[Avella is] an obscure pol, and attacking CP allowed him to grab […]

Quinn Says She Still Supports Congestion Pricing

|
After some pressing from Capital political reporter Azi Paybarah, Christine Quinn followed up her evasive and pessimistic statements about congestion pricing this morning with a firmer but still pessimistic statement about her position: “I supported congestion pricing. I support congestion pricing. I do not see it coming back in Albany but my support for congestion […]

Congestion Pricing: What’s the Deal?

|
Nobody knows whether the convoluted and difficult congestion pricing "deal" reached by political leaders yesterday will actually result in anything. The deal is complex even by Albany standards. A few things, however, are clear: Mayor Bloomberg does not have a "green light" to move forward with congestion pricing, nor has he been granted any new […]

Let’s Hear About Mayor Bloomberg’s Transit Improvement Plan

|
Kevin Sheekey: Bring this man home to talk about the transit improvements congestion pricing will fund. Sixty Percent of New Yorkers support Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to impose a congestion pricing fee on traffic entering Manhattan’s Central Business District and spending the resulting money on transit improvements. According to the pollsters at Quinnipiac, that support hasn’t […]

Quinn Makes Pricing Panel Picks

|
From Elizabeth Benjamin at The Daily Politics: Aides to Council Speaker Christine Quinn are calling Council members this morning with the news that none of them made the cut when it came to her three appointments to the 17-member city/state commission that will decide the fate of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan. According to Council […]

Congestion Pricing Endgame Begins

|
With less than four weeks remaining for the city to meet the $354 million federal deadline, lawmakers are positioning themselves on one side of the other of the congestion pricing debate, as state and city prime movers quietly ready for "negotiations." According to the Sun, Governor Eliot Spitzer’s office is drafting a congestion pricing bill, […]