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Report: Congestion Pricing Will Be a Huge Boost for Transit Workers

Here are 3.2 billion reason for transit workers to get on board the congestion pricing train.

1:17 PM EDT on October 17, 2023

Photo: Marc A. Hermann/MTA|

Workers will get more work, thanks to congestion pricing.

Here are 3.2 billion reason for transit workers to get on board the congestion pricing train.

Workers will get $3.2 billion in wages and perks from the $15 billion in capital construction costs that are expected to be funded from the still-to-be-determined central business district toll, according to a new report from Reinvent Albany.

Roughly 21 percent of the MTA's capital expenditures since 2007 have gone to pay in-house workers, Reinvent Albany said. Last year, that translated to $1.3 billion in wages. The more money the MTA spends on capital renovations — i.e. trackwork, signal upgrades and other in-house engineering — the more money will go to the laborers.

"There are a lot of good reasons to support congestion pricing, and our latest report shows that it will be a major benefit to labor, in addition to transit riders," said Rachael Fauss, the group's senior policy adviser.

Chart: Reinvent Albany

The findings suggest that the Transit Workers Union should be more vocal in support of congestion pricing. TWU President John Samuelsen, who is Mayor Adams's appointee on the panel that will recommend the toll amount, recently called congestion pricing a "thinly veiled" revenue grab by the MTA.

John Samuelsen

But in an interview with Streetsblog on Wednesday, Samuelsen said it's an "unfair characterization" to suggest that he is anything but a strong supporter of congestion pricing, which he says will reduce congestion and can boost transit ridership. He just doesn't think that MTA leadership is doing enough for the latter.

"I have a very narrow criticism that has nothing to do with a plan to reduce congestion in Manhattan — and that is the utter failure and scornful resistance of the MTA to the notion that they should increase service levels targeted to luring people out of cars and onto transit," Samuelsen told Streetsblog.

"They need to do a comprehensive analysis of who is driving and who they are trying to get onto public transit and then figure out what service improvement would do that best."

He advocated for "something as simple as increasing the hours that of some express bus service" or, in some areas, "increasing the local bus feeder service to the subway."

"Whatever the analysis shows," he added.

The MTA has increased some service, including on the G, J, M, C, N and R lines.

It's not the first time Reinvent Albany has sought to put a face — or faces — on the benefits of congestion pricing. Earlier this year, the group sought to remind New Jersey opponents that the Garden State companies (and their workers) got $3.3 billion in MTA business between 2014-2022. And in 2020, the group put out a report showing that the MTA spent $8 billion in goods and services from companies outside the state and $15 billion inside the state (much of it upstate) between 2011 and 2018.

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