Assemblyman Hevesi Slams Pricing as Transit “Money Grab”

At a Queens Community Board 5 meeting earlier this month, Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi made what may be the first hevesi.jpgattack against congestion pricing based on one of its primary selling points.

The Times Ledger reports:

At the meeting, state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) slammed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, which would charge $8 to passenger vehicles and $21 to trucks entering Manhattan below 60th Street.

"This is a money grab to pay for mass transit," he said. "This is not about the environment."

Hear that, Queens subway and bus commuters? Your assemblyman opposes a program that would fund transit because it would fund transit.

In January Hevesi and his colleague Rory Lancman showed up at a Congestion Mitigation Commission hearing just long enough to knock pricing and demand improvements to public transportation, to quote one attendee, "without explaining where the money would come from or why as state legislators they haven’t allocated more money to the MTA themselves."

  • Jonathan

    Thanks, Brad; that’s a lulu. So it’s better to spend money propping up the New York Racing Association than propping up the MTA.

    This is Andrew Hevesi, by the way, not scandal-tinged former comptroller Alan Hevesi, his father. Just wanted to insert that before people started bringing up the driving-Mrs.-Hevesi thing.

  • andrew

    a money grab for public transportaion? whaaaaa?

    That is so far the worst argument against pricing yet.

  • Bravo, Mr. Hevesi. Clearly he understands that his constituents are being treated unfairly in this plan, and is being honest about the dishonesty of the plan’s genesis and “environmental” need. Clearly, the money was always the goal, but yet no guarantees for mass transit funding exist. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

  • Keep it real

    KeepNYC Free – you haven’t been keeping abreast of developments. A lock box for transit investments is part of the deal.

  • mike

    I think KeepNYCFree fails to understand the basic nature of congestion pricing – raising money for transit and reducing congestion. So yes, money is a goal, one goal. That’s the point.

  • I repeat, no guarantees. None.

  • jmc

    Why is he so upset?

    He can just bill the taxpayers for congestion charges racked up for personal expenditures!

  • “This is a money grab to pay for mass transit,” he said. “This is not about the environment.”

    He needs some very elementary education about the connection between mass transit, automobiles, and the environment.

  • Marty

    “Conduct a full Environmental Impact Study, in compliance with all SEQRA requirements, and I will come back to the table ready to discuss all other aspects of congestion pricing in good
    faith in order to help our neighbors in Manhattan. Until that is done, I will not support congestion pricing.” – Hevesi

    Why can’t we just have the EIS? He’s not asking for anything outrageous. It will probably find, much like the Cross Harbor Study, that pollution in Manhattan will decrease to the detriment of western Queens.

  • I wonder what pricing proponents can do to quiet this argument about there being “no guarantee” about how the funds will be spent? The entire plan is ALL about raising money for transit…why wouldn’t they use the money for that. And if the lock box account isn’t a guarantee, then what is? I think opponents are just looking for something to complain about. I bet some will still complain even after we get our transit improvements.

  • Mark

    That quote would make dandy material for a leaflet in primary and general election campaigns — Hevesi’s political adversaries, please take note!

  • JF

    Bravo, Mr. Hevesi. Clearly he understands that his constituents are being treated unfairly in this plan …

    Which of his constuents would that be? The 2/3 who take transit, and would not have to pay the money? The ones who take express buses, and would travel faster on less-crowded roads? The ones who breathe, and would have cleaner air? The ones who have to deal with Queens Boulevard, and would be safer?

    Out of the 4.2% of his constituents who drive to the CBD every day, is Hevesi fighting for the ones who wouldn’t pay anything extra, because they take the tunnel? Or for the ones who would see a significant time savings due to decreased congestion, well worth $8? I’m really trying to figure out who in his district would lose under this plan.

  • Lew from Brooklyn

    Jupst to poke my head in here, anyone cae to comment on the efficcy of the Education/Lotto lockbox in the wake of this week’s State deal to radi the lockbox to subsidize NYRA?

    Lew from Brooklyn

  • Marie

    I was at that Community Board meeting and heard what the Assemblyman said. He never said that he was against getting money for mass transit, that’s insane. He argued, rightly, that there are potential negative environmental impacts to his area and the physical health of the people he represents come first. Isn’t this why we elect people in the first place – to look out for our interests?

  • Larry Littlefield

    As I said, Lew, “don’t trust us greedy politicians backed by special interests with any more money” is your best argument.

    You can also point out that Jim Brennan is calling for a tax increase “for education” since most of the increase in funding for education is going for pensions. Isn’t that another tax increase for richer pensions and earlier retirement?

  • Spud Spudly

    It is certainly funny to hear a politician fail to equate improved mass transit with an improved environment. But the desire to have an EIS for any kind of traffic mitigation plan is perfectly understandable, and the failure to perform one is the ace in the hole for CP opponents. No reasonable person could argue that a traffic mitigation plan, whether it includes CP or not, would have citywide environmental implications that may not always be positive for every neighborhood.

  • Spud Spudly

    …would NOT…

    …would NOT have citywide environmental implications……

  • Christian

    In reality CP probably won’t improve the MTA’s finances…Albany will just cut funding by the amount that the MTA receives.

    As long as we have upstate leeching off of and controlling the city we will never be able to move forward on any major problems.

  • “Isn’t this why we elect people in the first place – to look out for our interests?”

    It is, Marie, but Hevesi’s ability to spin a rousing borough warfare story doesn’t mean he’s acting your interests. Consider Deborah Glick, a representative for lower Manhattan. Hers is a neighborhood Hevesi claims would benefit from pricing at the cost of his own, and he’s half right: it would benefit greatly. The car owning percentage there is extremely low, and yet Glick has opposed pricing. Why is this? (It isn’t outer-borough gentillesse, I can promise you that.) It’s because the real issues of congestion and pollution are not divided by borough lines. Anti-pricing pols across the city are motivated by a mix of car and parking interests, political alliances, resentment for the Bloomberg administration, and who knows what else. (As a former constituent of Glick’s, I really was befuddled.)

    You should understand that if fewer cars are driving into lower Manhattan from all parts, fewer will be driving through or from Queens. This will improve your air quality and express bus times. Some suburban cheapskates may try to find parking near subway stations, but they’ll quickly be thwarted by either residential parking permits or the popularity of the very spots they crave. (I highly doubt such well placed unmetered spots are open as it is.) In a fundamental way it does not make sense to get off the expressway in Queens, tool around surface streets, search for an open parking space, walk, and then take the NYC subway (which car commuters not-so-secretly loathe anyway). I would worry about an asteroid hitting Queens before I would worry about this convenient nonsense of a disaster scenario.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    The entire argument about the lock-box is one of the many diversions set out to trap the unconvinced and suspicious. First the opponents asked for a lock-box committment, then after the commission delivered it want a “guaranteed” lock box committment. All of it is to drive distrust in both the government and the MTA.

    Ironically, or perhaps cynically, much of the jeremiad concerning the lock box is driven by the politicians in the City and State who stood by and watched as Pataki and a collection of Mayors drained the MTA of tax funding. Congestion Pricing will provide the MTA with resources in much the same way that the TBTA presently provides the MTA with resources.

    The oppositionist position is really that they won’t be able to cutoff funding in the future in the way they have in the past, exactly the opposite of what they now say. The budget support that the State and City were giving to the MTA was diverted to other needs (among them tax cuts) over the course of the last decade. Now they want a Congestion Pricing system that precludes doing exactly what they have done.

    The funny thing is that the horse is out of the barn on this, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle, oh there must be more metaphors for this. The commission has presented a system to preclude future governments from refusing the MTA needed funds. Now the same people responsible for the denials that got us to this point want “guarantees” that they won’t do it again. This is a guarantee that cannot be delivered simply because there is no guarantee of any future tax funding apart and separate from congestion pricing.

    Even with congestion pricing the MTA will still have needs given the extensive and aggressive system expansion they are proposing. Now the politicians who applaud the expansions want to refuse support for a dedicated stream of money by positing that they will fail to provide any other resources.

    Or, you could look at it like Lew Fidler that it is all easily resolved by a payroll tax that the City Council doesn’t have control over either. (congestion can be solved in his world by enforcement heretofor not forthcoming).

  • fdr

    If Lew Fidler is reading this discussion, I wonder if he could give us some insight on how CP is doing in the Council, which has to pass it before it goes to the State Legislature. Is Quinn going to twist arms to get it passed? Does she need to?

  • MrManhattan

    “This is a money grab to pay for mass transit,”

    He says it like its a bad thing….

    How about: “I think you New Yorkers should keep subsidizing Upstate Hicks while they cram your streets, pollute your air and kill your neighbors”

    I’m sure that would play much better in The Post.


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