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Congestion Pricing

Tuesday’s Headlines: ‘Shrinking’ the MTA Budget is Class War Edition

The Streetsblog Photoshop Desk|

Talk about shrinkage.

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The editors

Congestion pricing was still the main topic of the day, thanks to a stunning press conference by MTA CEO Janno Lieber at which we learned a few things:

  1. The MTA is planning massive cuts to its now-unfunded $52-billion capital plan — the vast majority of which is state-of-good-repair work. So the result of Gov. Hochul's decision to give drivers a free ride into Manhattan is that transit riders will get worse service.
  2. Lieber said that without congestion pricing, the MTA's borrowing costs would go up, and the increased debt service would be pulled from the day-to-day operating budget. Again, that means "shrinkage" in service (as Lieber put it) or a fare hike. Again, the result of Gov. Hochul's decision to give drivers a free ride into Manhattan is that transit riders will get worse service.
  3. A fare hike is especially unfair to transit users, who, according to Census figures, are on average poorer than their car-driving neighbors and whose fares already pay a higher percentage of transit operating costs compared to other systems in the U.S. So, say it loud: The result of Gov. Hochul's decision to give drivers a free ride into Manhattan is that transit riders will get worse service.

You don't have to be a leftist like me to see that Hochul is engaging in the worst kind of class war: She's killed a toll on wealthier suburbanites and now the MTA must cut transit service or raise fares on riders, who tend to be less well off.

My social justice rhetoric above will likely find purchase with Rep. Ritchie Torres, who highlighted the issue in a tweet:

Or, for a less-subtle take, there's this from tabloid legend Bill Bramhill:

The Daily News double-barreled its lede, contrasting Lieber's grim talk of catastrophic cuts with Hochul's contention that anyone who can't fund the MTA lacks "imagination." The Post, which fought to kill congestion pricing, put a good face on the disaster (guilty conscience?). The Times and Gothamist focused on the decline in service. The City did it as a Honan-Martinez podcast. And amNY obviously had "Lieber resigns" in the office pool.

We focused on the class war.

There was additional coverage of congestion pricing yesterday:

  • Nicole Gelinas name-checked us in her Post piece about how congestion pricing supporters are needlessly freaking out. In fairness to us, we're not freaking out, we're concerned about a possible $15-billion hole in the MTA capital budget. There's a difference!
  • David Meyer was on WCBS 880 talking about what else? (And I'll be on NY1 at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday doing the same.)
  • If you don't want climate activists boycotting Wall Street firms, congestion pricing would have been a good start. (NY Post)
  • There'll be another rally to protest Hochul's move at 11:30 today at Queens Boulevard and 40th Street in Sunnyside. Details are on the Streetsblog calendar, which you really need in times like these.
  • Ben Brachfeld at amNY did the Hochul diner story.
  • And, finally, subway riders know who to blame:

In other non-toll news:

  • Remember last week, when a truck driver killed a Citi Bike rider in Hells Kitchen? Cops ID'd the victim as Gatlin Landess, 32. He was well-known on Instagram.
  • And Phil O'Brien of the news site W42St had an important and compelling take on why the media must show graphic images.
  • Speaking of the ink trade, Streetsblog is being held up as a vanguard of digital journalism. (Editor and Publisher)
  • The Daily News got some good details in the story of the hit-and-run victim who died of his injuries this month from the crash in 2012. (We also covered.)
  • The Times's Street Wars column finally moved to something we can all agree on: those new 5G cell towers are too damn big.
  • My son, who goes to the Harbor School on Governors Island got to attend the mayor's presser about a new wind turbine factory in Brooklyn — but Hizzoner didn't take his question (which I'd planted). (NYDN)
  • The Port Authority has some new plate-reading cameras — but are they as good as my "criminal mischief"? I think not. (Gothamist)
  • Eric Adams lied about being able to use the bathroom in City Hall, obvs. (Hell Gate)
  • A woman on a bike was killed by a van driver — the 12 cyclist killed this year. (NYDN)
  • And, finally, make sure your office computer doesn't have a "transportation porn" filter because here comes some glory shots of the Department of Design and Construction installing a new, $32-million, foot- and bike path over the FDR Drive as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project:
The new span was installed overnight on Saturday just south of the Williamsburg Bridge.Photo: Matthew Lapiska/Department of Design and Construction
The new span was installed overnight on Saturday just south of the Williamsburg Bridge.Photo: Matthew Lapiska/Department of Design and Construction
The new span was installed overnight on Saturday just south of the Williamsburg Bridge.Photo: Matthew Lapiska/Department of Design and Construction

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