Lew Fidler: Let’s Get to Work
Here’s more on yesterday’s congestion pricing debacle in Albany, this time from City Council Member Lew Fidler. Direct quotes are in quotation marks.
Streetsblog: What’s your reaction to today’s news?
Fidler: "Look, it would do nobody any good for one side to gloat and for the other side to sulk. We need to really get to work on the problems that we’ve all acknowledged. You’re familiar with the musical Oklahoma? The cowmen and the farmers need to be friends."
"I had a conversation with Melissa Mark-Viverito today [before the news from Albany], on a what-if basis. Can we move forward and work on something together? It was positive."
Streetsblog: So what do you propose as an alternative?
Fidler: "I put out my plan, you guys are familiar with it. Parts are available for fair consideration. Clearly there’s a notion that a broad-based tax will be necessary to fund the capital plan for mass transit."
For all the negativity on hydrogen fuel cell cars, I hope it did not escape everyone’s notice that Westchester [White Plains] has entered into a pilot program. We need to incentivize the infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles. These cars are feasible today. Would you be the first one on your block to get one? We need to find a way.
Streetblog: A broad-based tax?
Fidler: "A regional payroll tax, that’s my proposal. Other people have talked about a millionaire’s tax. We can’t let the MTA capital plan crumble. That’s not the message that people who are against congestion pricing are trying to send."
Streetsblog: What about the fact that the $354 million could have been put to use immediately to improve transit?
Fidler: If we impose the regional payroll tax, we’ll still be $400-$500 million ahead in year one [compared to congestion pricing revenue], $700 million in year two.
"Outside of the objection I have in principle to congestion pricing, it’s not effective. When you’re looking to raise revenue, you don’t do it in a way that costs fifty cents on the dollar."