Assembly Member Dick Gottfried Supports “the Concept” of Congestion Pricing

Assembly Member Richard Gottfried. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Thomas Altfather Good
Assembly Member Richard Gottfried. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Thomas Altfather Good

Assembly Member Richard Gottfried believes in congestion pricing, in theory. The question now, as it was ten years ago, is how hard he’ll work to enact a policy that would benefit his constituents enormously.

With Governor Cuomo expected to propose a congestion pricing plan based on the recommendations of his Fix NYC panel, Streetsblog is contacting representatives in the State Senate and Assembly to get their take.

Gottfried, a 47-year incumbent, represents Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and parts of Midtown and the Upper West Side — some of the most traffic-choked neighborhoods in the city. About 80 percent of households don’t own a car, and among those who do car commute, the median income is $102,981, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

In a statement, Gottfried called congestion pricing “an important step to a healthier and more livable city” that “can help speed traffic flow, reduce air and noise pollution, and provide a reliable funding stream for New York’s public transportation.”

He also qualified that support:

I support the concept, while many details still need to be worked out. These include ensuring that the revenue it generates is dedicated to increased funding for mass transit in New York City, resolving various special situations, and avoiding ‘congestion parking.’

It’s similar to Gottfried’s position a decade ago, when he went on the record supporting congestion pricing but was mostly invisible while suburban representatives like Westchester’s Richard Brodsky were battering the plan in the press on a daily basis.

Exactly which special situations Gottfried wants to resolve isn’t clear. But he represents an area with excellent transit access, where owning a car is a luxury few people spring for.

As for “congestion parking” — the idea that people will drive up the edge of the toll cordon and park — it’s mostly a red herring. The overwhelming majority of car commuters to the Manhattan CBD have a viable transit route between home and work, and for people who stop driving into the zone, those transit options will make more sense than driving part of the trip, searching for parking, and then waiting to catch a train.

If park-and-ride behavior is still a concern, the city developed a whole residential parking permit plan in 2008 to address the same worries, and it can be dusted off today.

Meanwhile, residents of Gottfried’s district go about their lives on streets with some of the New York region’s worst traffic, walking along avenues still designed like highways to accommodate all those cars and trucks.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    He’s done some great work in Albany… but 47 years?! My lord… time for new blood up there, regardless of his position on congestion pricing.

  • Joe R.

    I was thinking the same. He’s been in office since I was 8 years old.

  • This doesn’t follow.

    The existence of a legislator with a 47-year career who can nevertheless embrace a new idea is actually a strong argument against term limits. And you yourself said that he’s done great work.

    This guy’s career is being an Assembly Member. If his constituents still want him, then he ought to continue. More imprtant, “new blood” isn’t necessarily better than an old person; consider the skepticism towards congestion pricing that was recently expressed by the youngster Yuh-Line Niou. The only thing that matters in a politician is his/her positions.

  • Kwyjibo

    Congestion pricing did not just land in Dick Gottfried’s lap.

    He’s had 10 years to study up. There’s no excuse to be throwing out BS “concerns” like “congestion parking.”

    He was a wet rag then. He’s a wet rag now.

    You had a good run, Dick. Time to step aside.

  • Joe R.

    He embraces a new idea with qualifications. Depending upon what those qualifications are, that might be no better than not embracing the idea at all. This is similar to all the politicians, including de Blasio, who embraced Vision Zero in principal, but get cold feet if any steps towards that goal cause more than minor inconvenience for motorists.

    Granted, term limits may or may not solve problems such as this, but when someone knows they can’t make a career out of being a politician, they’re more likely to do what the majority of their constituents want, not what a minority with powerful lobbyists want. Remember drivers may be a minority in his district, but given their affluence, they wield most of the influence.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Resolving various special situations.”

    Free for those working in health care, as well as the public employee unions?

    His actual constituents work near where the Second Avenue Subway was supposed to go, on the East Side. The top people all drive. Perhaps if Phase II of the SAS allowed a transfer from Metro North at 125th, and phase III ran down to NYU Langone, Bellevue, the VA, Beth Israel, etc. In the year 2135.

  • Given that a large part of the traffic problems have arisen from the massive amount of development (apartment buildings, hotels, office buildings etc.) in the area over the past 15 years, I propose that instead of charging long time residents, congestion pricing be paid for by developers! They’re the ones who have contributed greatly to the creation of this problem are profiting bigly from all of this congestion.


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Looking for a New State Legislator? Try Craigslist.

Upset about the way your State Assembly rep voted on congestion pricing? Here’s a novel approach to finding a new one: Craiglist. While Manhattan’s Richard Gottfried was one of the few state legislators who supported congestion pricing, at least one Chelsea resident appears to be in the market for a new Assemblyman. And why not? […]