Corey Johnson Unequivocally Backs Congestion Pricing, Further Isolating de Blasio

“We need to disincentivize cars from coming into the city,” Johnson said on WNYC today.

Corey Johnson on WNYC today. Photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council via Flickr
Corey Johnson on WNYC today. Photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council via Flickr

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson gave a full-throated endorsement to congestion pricing today, giving Governor Cuomo more political leeway to push for a comprehensive plan to reduce traffic and boost transit funding. Johnson’s position further isolates Mayor de Blasio, who continues to lie and dissemble to support his contention that congestion pricing would have a regressive effect.

Fielding calls on Brian Lehrer earlier today, Johnson was asked what he’d like to see done about Midtown gridlock.

“I support congestion pricing,” said Johnson. “We need to disincentivize cars from coming into the city. We need to put money into mass transit, rapid bus service. Move NY has a plan on lessening the tolls on the outer borough crossings and tolling the East River bridges. There’s a proposal to put a surcharge on for-hire vehicles like Uber and Lyft… We need to tackle this issue. Other global cities like London have been able to do this.”

Johnson said he also supports de Blasio’s millionaires tax proposal, which would generate transit funding but won’t do anything to reduce the gridlock that slows bus trips and makes getting around in the Manhattan core a generally miserable experience.

With Johnson on board with Move NY, de Blasio is looking like more of an outlier among the major political players in the region.

Cuomo says he’s in favor of road pricing, though what he’ll commit to is still very much up in the air. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has also signaled a willingness to come to the table.

There is one notable faction joining de Blasio in his hostility to congestion pricing: the suburban Republicans who currently control the majority in the State Senate. On this issue, New York’s purportedly progressive mayor is aligned with New York’s Trump country.

  • JarekFA

    the suburban Republicans who currently control the majority in the State Senate. On this issue, New York’s purportedly progressive mayor is aligned with New York’s Trump country.

    F–k You IDC. Thanks Senator Jesse Hamilton for giving Marty Golden a seat at the table.

  • AnoNYC

    I truly feel like congestion pricing is inevitable. The alternatives that would actually work, like driving bans, are even less feasible.

  • Joe R.

    I personally favor driving bans. I want everyone, especially the super wealthy, to have to get around in certain parts of the city walking, biking, or taking public transit. When the wealthy see how awful these modes are they might be willing to pay more in taxes to fix them. That’s especially true of public transit. So long as they continue to get around in limos, at best public transit will get lip service.

    A part of me also abhors the idea of the super wealthy paying money to do things the rest of us can’t.

  • AnoNYC

    We’ll see more and more pedestrianization, bus only and bike lanes over time; but a Manhattan wide, or even CBD wide total ban is just not politically feasible right now. CP has much better odds.

    I do think the city could be much more aggressive though and get away with so much more. Like how about allowing private cars only on a few of the primary roads in the Financial District in one year, with 5 year goal of a total ban in that area. Pedestrianize Broadway between Union Sq and Columbus Circle already.

    And city should be painting bus lanes everywhere.

  • Joe R.

    How about daylighting every intersection, as well as general parking bans in the more congested parts of the city? Those two things would drastically decrease on-street parking, with a resultant disincentive to drive without an explicit ban on driving. And we don’t need Albany’s permission for either.

  • AnoNYC

    Agreed. Daylighting is such an obvious addition to the NYC Vision Zero toolkit. A parking ban would be a lot tougher to deliver.

  • tomwest

    Daylighting costs next to nothing, and can be quickly reversed if it proves to be the wrong action. What’s not to like?

  • reasonableexplanation

    Midtown already has a parking ban on most streets during the day, only commercial vehicles are allowed between 7am-7pm. You might be overestimating how much of a role street parking plays here.

  • jeff

    Thanks Corey Johnson for acting like a leader on this issue.

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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.