De Blasio’s Wrong: There’s a Fair Congestion Pricing Plan Right Under His Nose

Asked about congestion pricing on WNYC, de Blasio recited his usual list of misdirections and red herrings.

Just 4 percent of outer borough workers commute by car into Manhattan. Of those, the vast majority are from middle- or high-income households. Image: Community Service Society
Just 4 percent of outer borough workers commute by car into Manhattan. Of those, the vast majority are from middle- or high-income households. Image: Community Service Society

Mayor de Blasio apparently doesn’t take transportation policy cues from every public radio listener.

On Brian Lehrer this morning, caller John from the Upper East Side told de Blasio he’s disturbed by the mayor’s opposition to congestion pricing, which John described as “a progressive solution for a problem that’s intractable and getting worse.”

In response, de Blasio recited his usual list of anti-pricing talking points:

  • Road pricing is a “regressive tax,” the mayor says. In fact, affluent car-commuting New Yorkers would pay nearly all of the tolls while the benefits would accrue to transit riders who earn less. Coupled with fare discounts for low-income riders, it would be even more progressive.
  • De Blasio claims Brooklyn and Queens would pay disproportionately, failing to acknowledge that the Move NY toll swap and for-hire surcharge, Manhattanites pay the biggest share of any borough.
  • Then the mayor dropped a classic misdirection about the lack of exemptions for people who drive to medical appointments in the Manhattan CBD. His cynical red herring disregards millions of New Yorkers who must swipe a MetroCard and hope the broken subway or traffic-hobbled bus gets them to the doctor, or health care job, on time — and swipe again to get home. Does de Blasio also believe there should be a medical exemption for transit fares?

“So far,” said de Blasio, “I have not seen a plan that actually is fair and would work.”

De Blasio’s arguments against road pricing are either not rooted in fact or are addressed by Move NY. His insistence that he hasn’t seen such a plan smacks of willful ignorance.

As long as he refuses to engage in a serious discussion on the most scrutinized road pricing proposal to come along since 2008, de Blasio is signaling that he’s not interested in reducing gridlock and helping bus riders mired in traffic.

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Photo: Crain's New York

Bucking de Blasio, Speaker Candidates Support Congestion Pricing

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Mayor de Blasio is pulling out all the stops to frame congestion pricing as a "regressive tax," even though low-income New Yorkers stand to gain enormously. Not a single contender for council speaker is on the same page as the mayor. In a debate hosted by Crain's this morning, they all signaled support for congestion pricing, with a few caveats.