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Brian Kavanagh

Brian Kavanagh on Albany Congestion Pricing Inaction: “We Need to Do More”

5:26 PM EDT on April 5, 2018

State Senator Brian Kavanagh isn't satisfied with Albany's budget measures to address traffic congestion and fund transit, which consist of new fees on taxi and Uber trips in the Manhattan core.

On Monday, Governor Cuomo called the new fees to fund the MTA, "a major, major achievement." But they won't deliver the traffic reduction of a real congestion pricing program, and they generate far less revenue than the cordon toll scenarios proposed by the governor's Fix NYC panel.

While the benefits will be slim, the costs will fall mainly on Manhattanites, who'll pay two-thirds of the new fees, according to analyst Charles Komanoff.

Streetsblog has been contacting Manhattan representatives to get their take on the taxi fees and the absence of congestion pricing in the state budget. (Here's what Assembly Member Deborah Glick told us.)

To Kavanagh, who represents parts of Lower Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn, the job's not over. In a statement his office sent this afternoon, Kavanagh said the state hasn't done enough to reduce congestion and address the funding and management challenges facing the MTA:

I’ve long supported a pricing plan to fight congestion and support our transit system, and the lack of such a plan -- or any other adequate source of revenue for the MTA -- was one of the many failures of this budget. The taxi and for-hire vehicle surcharge will begin to direct much-needed funds to the MTA, but it clearly falls short of what a full plan would accomplish. It remains abundantly clear we need to do more to address congestion on our streets and fully fund our public transit system.

Unlike some of his Manhattan colleagues, Kavanagh has been out front on this issue. In 2016, as an assembly member, he was a co-sponsor of Move New York toll reform legislation.

Currently in the Senate minority, Kavanagh didn't have the same influence as his Assembly colleagues this session. That could change soon, however, with the IDC rejoining mainline Democrats and the party expected to make gains in the next election.

With a Democrat-controlled Senate looking more likely, Kavanagh could be an important voice for finishing the job on congestion pricing in 2019.

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