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Congestion Pricing

East Harlem Furious that Gov. Hochul Has Killed the Second Avenue Subway

Governor's Hochul decision to pause congestion pricing has ended up killing the second avenue subway, for which they have waited for decades.

Photo: Jackie Zamora|

Monica Osorio of East Harlem is frustrated by broken promises.

Residents of East Harlem are frustrated that construction of the Second Avenue Subway has been paused as a result of Gov. Hochul's decision to delay congestion pricing, feeling as if it's just another broken promise from yet another politician.

For many Harlem locals, the extension plan meant more than just a subway line, but a sign of hope and refinement in the community.

"You know, it's not fair," said Harlem resident Dominique Wilson, one of many angry residents who told Streetsblog they feel like second-class citizens in the wake of Gov. Hochul's decision to delay congestion pricing. "When are we going to have something for us?"

Fellow longtime Harlemite Monica Osorio added she's just sick and tired of being sick and tired at the delays of the subway extension.

"This is not OK — we need more transportation around here. There are way too many people taking the bus because of the lack of trains nearby," said Osorio, who takes crowded buses daily.

Those crowded buses were part of the motivation for creating the Second Avenue Subway line, a project that dates back to the 1920s. After decades of pauses and cancellations, three stations did open at 72nd, 86th, and 96th streets in 2017 — with plans set in place for three more in Harlem.

Construction on those was set to begin this year — but in the days after Gov. Hochul canceled congestion pricing, the MTA halted work, citing the massive loss of revenue from the governor's decision.

Many in the community can't help but see that decision as a direct attack on low-income people of color. The neighborhood of 128,000 has a median household income of around $36,000, which is half the citywide average.

Some residents saw the cancelation of the subway line akin to another recent loss of a basic amenity: the closing of the Target in East River Plaza, which, like good transit, provided a cheap alternative for locals.

"This is really unfair and I really hope that things do change around here," said Harlemite Tanya Cruz who walks all the way from First to Lexington avenue to commute every day with her two kids. "It's really hot outside and it would be nice to have a train nearby."

Residents of Harlem are backed up by activists from Riders Alliance, which has been advocating not only for congestion pricing, but for the subway line expansion.

"Gov. Hochul alone is responsible for the fate of the Second Avenue Subway expansion. By stopping congestion pricing, the governor has most likely lost New York the largest capital investment grant that the Federal Transit Administration has ever made," said Riders Alliance Policy & Communications Director Danny Pearlstein.

For her part, Gov, Hochul distanced herself from the MTA's decision to halt work on the Second Avenue Subway, telling the Daily News that she is committed to finding funding for it and other MTA capital work.

Thus far, however, the governor has not specified where it will come from.

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