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Gov. Hochul Should Read Gov. Hochul’s Press Releases about the Benefits of Congestion Pricing

Gov. Hochul once touted the central business tolling plan as "powerful" and "transformative" for the city. That was then.

The news that Gov. Hochul is considering delaying congestion pricing will come as a shock not only to many New Yorkers, but to Gov. Hochul herself, who has been touting the central business tolling plan as "powerful" and "transformative" for the city.

And she's also talked a lot about her "courage" to fight "the opposition" and see it through.

So hours after the New York Times and Politico broke the news that Gov. Hochul had thrown a bucket of blood into congestion pricing's shark-filled waters, we present a brief compendium of our chief executive's once-fearless words of support, which can be read today with a rueful sadness:

Excerpts from Gov. Hochul's keynote address at the Global Economic Summit
May 20, 2024

Photo: Darren McGee/ Office of Gov. Hochul

Walk around many major cities and it won’t take long to encounter frustrated drivers caught in traffic jams, cars spewing exhaust on overpacked streets. ... There has to be a better way. So, starting next month, we’ll charge people $15 every time they drive into New York’s Central Business District.

London, Milan, Stockholm, and Singapore have all implemented similar plans with great success. In New York City, the idea stalled for 60 years until we got it done earlier this year. It took a long time because people feared backlash from drivers set in their ways. But if we’re serious about making cities more livable, we must get over that.

We estimate congestion pricing will reduce the volume of vehicles in Manhattan’s central business district by 17 percent. Fewer cars mean less gridlock, traffic and pollution. Fewer cars means safer streets, cleaner air and more room to maneuver for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Congestion pricing will generate $1 billion every year, which will then fund large-scale projects that make public transit faster and more accessible. That’s key because we’ll never change people’s habits if we don’t offer safe, reliable alternatives to driving that work for everyone.

Expanded train service or an extra subway stop can actually change the trajectory of someone’s life. That’s powerful. That’s what cities are meant to do.

Statement from Gov. Hochul after the MTA board approved congestion pricing.
Dec. 6, 2023

“Congestion pricing means cleaner air, better transit and less gridlock on New York City's streets. ... This initiative will make New York City a global leader in transportation policy.”

Gov. Hochul's remarks at a congestion pricing rally
Dec. 5, 2023

Photo: Don Pollard/Office of Gov. Hochul

From time to time, leaders are called upon to envision a better future, be bold in the implementation and execution, and be undaunted by the opposition. That's how you secure progress. That's what today is all about.

Anybody sick and tired of gridlock in New York City? Anybody think we deserve better transit, especially those who live and work here? Anyone think that people with disabilities deserve to have more accessibility when they travel through this city? Anybody want cleaner air for our kids and for future generations? Well then you love congestion pricing, right?

My friends, this is going to be transformative. We'll have the resources to invest in our system, a 110-year-old system, so it's positioned for the next 110 years because of the courage here today. That's what we're fighting for. But also, people deserve a quality of life here – it should be walkable, people should be able to take the train and be able to walk to their jobs and never need a vehicle again because this is New York.

We overcome the opposition. We make it be successful. And the rest of America will realize that we are fighting to save our planet, we're fighting to save our kids, we're fighting for our riders, and we are fighting for the greatest city on the planet, the City of New York! Thank you everybody.

Remarks by Gov. Hochul after the federal government gave its approval
June 27, 2023

When a doctor sees a patient who's having trouble breathing, having trouble taking a breath, feeling sick because of health problem, they often prescribe a decongestant. Think about that. A decongestant — open up spaces in the body hoping people get well, helping people get well and live a healthier life. That's exactly what we're doing here in the City of New York. We're prescribing a decongestant.

And how are we doing that? We are going to be the very first city in America to have a congestion pricing plan. We are setting the standard right here in real time for how we can achieve cleaner air, safer streets, and better transit. And you are all part of making history.

And this is how we help the body heal, get better, get healthier. ... Millions of New Yorkers will lead happier, safer, less stressful lives.

I know the anxiety people have when you're at the intersection and cars are flying through and the delivery trucks are jammed up, they can't make their deliveries and they're getting frustrated, and the cars behind them are all beeping because they can't get through.

It is chaos. It is chaos. And think about the pedestrians just trying to get around the bicyclists, the delivery people. It is dangerous for them. But all this concentrated activity, the vehicles sitting there idling because they cannot move and our buses that are not moving, it's also creating all this exhaust and emissions that our people are breathing.

The average New York driver spends 102 hours stuck in traffic. Talk about stress, talk about anxiety, talk about time away from your families, your friends. And the cost — it equates to about $20 billion a year. I happen to think we can do a lot better things with $20 billion, don't you?

How exciting is it for us to know that we can be the model for the rest of the nation. That's what we always do. We're always the leaders. We're always the first in America. 

We've diagnosed the illness. We have the medicine. We can make it better. And ultimately the body, this vibrant body known as New York City, will be so healthy and vibrant, and it'll live forever because of what we're doing here today.

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