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Congestion Pricing

The Roller-Coaster Ride of MTA Boss Janno Lieber

The MTA CEO's role appears to be changing rapidly.

The Streetsblog Photoshop Desk

With DAVE COLON in ALBANY — MTA CEO Janno Lieber went from congestion pricing standard-bearer to Gov. Hochul's tin cup shaker — but his role appears to be changing rapidly as the legislature remains in confusion.

Lieber, who sources have told Streetsblog opposes and was blindsided by the governor's decision to delay congestion pricing, initially started working the phones to get congestion pricing advocates in the state legislature to support a stopgap, non-toll funding scheme — with the hope that congestion pricing can be saved as a concept when lawmakers return to Albany next year.

"He's calling everyone saying he needs money and thinks the stopgap will save congestion pricing for the future," said one Albany lawmaker who received a call from Lieber as legislators take up Hochul's still-non-existent plan to cobble together some combination of taxes or other funding to raise $1 billion for the MTA now, and kick the congestion pricing can down the road.

Another state lawmaker told Streetsblog that Lieber said in a call that without a one-time cash infusion — ironically, the very cash that congestion pricing was supposed to start delivering on June 30 — the MTA won't be able to do any of the existing capital work.

But since those initial calls, Lieber has apparently pulled back after fully understanding the massive backlash to Hochul's betrayal, one lawmaker said. And at one point, Lieber even threatened to resign over the governor's delay, the Post reported — though it is unclear at what point in this fast-moving timeline that may have occurred.

In any event, Lieber is reading the same tea leaves as everyone else and now sees that a substantial number of legislators won't support the governor.

"She doesn't have the votes in our chamber," one state Senator told Streetsblog.

The bottom line, said a different insider, is it's now up to the governor to make the calls and twist the arms to convince lawmakers to accept her congestion pricing delay and fill the MTA's budget gap. Which could explain why no one has seen the governor in days.

And now, said another source inside the MTA's Lower Manhattan headquarters, the agency will have to take a serious look at dramatically scaling back its aggressive — and until Wednesday, well-funded — capital reconstruction and modernization plans.

With Jackie Zamora in Manhattan

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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