Poll: City Support for Congestion Pricing Is Even Stronger Than Statewide

Gov. Cuomo wants to start congestion pricing in 2021. Map: HNTB
Gov. Cuomo wants to start congestion pricing in 2021. Map: HNTB

Congestion pricing supporters were pleased this week when a new poll showed that 52 percent of New York State residents support the tolling scheme when asked.

But the numbers in the Siena Research poll are even stronger within every borough of the city — despite opponents’ continued demagoguery that congestion pricing represents some sort of unfair tax on a middle class that simply must drive into Manhattan.

According to numbers that Siena crunched exclusively for Streetsblog, respondents in the four boroughs (minus Staten Island, for which there were insufficient respondents) support congestion pricing by even wider margins than respondents all over the state

Here are the numbers:

  • Manhattan: 60.6 percent in favor, 32.5 percent opposed (pro-toll margin: 28.1 percent).
  • Bronx: 58.7 percent in favor, 34.3 percent opposed (pro-toll margin: 24.4 percent).
  • Queens: 54.8 percent in favor, 38.2 percent opposed (pro-toll margin: 16.6 percent).
  • Brooklyn: 54.9 percent in favor, 39.9 percent opposed (pro-toll margin: 15 percent).

The numbers make it clear that borough residents are far ahead of some of their elected officials in Albany on the issue. This week, Streetsblog interviewed many legislators from the city and found a surprisingly high number of them on the fence — despite the good poll numbers.

Toby Ann Stavisky: She's got issues.
Toby Ann Stavisky: She’s got issues.

“I have concerns,” Assembly Member Helene Weinstein of Brooklyn told Streetsblog. “Concerns for the people who drive.”

 And Queens State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky still believes that congestion pricing would hurt lower-income people, even though statistics show that they don’t regularly drive into Manhattan during rush hour.

“I think it’s a tax on the lower middle class, yes,” she said. “When I went to college and I took economics, one of the things I remembered was that the tax should be based on the ability to pay. This is not. This is based on owning a car.”

Fact check: In Stavisky’s district, only 3.6 percent of commuters regularly drive into Manhattan — and the ones who do have median incomes 20.3 percent higher than the district-wide average, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

with Ben Verde and David Meyer

  • AnoNYC

    The numbers would be even higher if people realized the very specific benefits of congestion pricing. Things like more bus only lanes, bicycle lanes, and pedestrianization. Also reduced pollution and public safety.

  • AMH

    I don’t think people realize the benefits at all. I hear all the time at one end “you can’t tell people not to drive” as though pricing amounts to a ban, and at the other end “it won’t make a difference because people will just pay” which of course is not borne out by the evidence. People aren’t getting just how many unnecessary car trips are made when they are “free”, and how much a small pricing change affects behavior. It’s a bit like putting a small fee on plastic bags–the cost is negligible if you need one, but completely changes the dynamic (and of course we hear the same nonsensical arguments on that issue).

  • 1soReal

    The polls may be in Congestion Pricing favor in NYC but what matters more is who will actually turn out and vote. I suspect the minority who are opposed to congestion pricing are also a more likely and reliable set of voters, so that’s who they will appease.

  • Joe R.

    I think the difference here is car trips only have some utility to a minority, but even here the reason for car use often isn’t because it’s faster, but because the person adamantly refuses to use public transit. Pricing trips can get at least some people to either not make the trip, or switch modes.

    Plastic bags on the other hand have utility to virtually everyone. Far too many on the left act like people just throw these bags out. I reuse them for garbage. I’m sure others do as well. If you ban them, or charge for them, a lot of people will still use plastic bags for their garbage, with the end result of little change in plastic in the waste stream. Or in my case, since I won’t pay to buy bags, I’ll just put my trash in the pail without bags, be it food waste, adult diapers, whatever. Let it sit there and attract vermin. The cost of that will be far above whatever the cost of a few plastic bags per week in the waste stream is.

    Why not mandate biodegradeable plastic bags? That would seem to be the best of both worlds.

    BTW, I know paper bags represent a possible alternative, but they won’t contain a lot of household wastes if used for garbage, plus lacking handles like plastic bags, they’re virtually impossible to carry.


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