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New York Governor Hochul Avoids Questions on Replacing Congestion Pricing Amidst $15 Billion MTA Budget Deficit

Governor evading media questions.

New York Governor Hochul Dismisses Questions on Congestion Pricing Replacement

In New York City, Governor Kathy Hochul turned down attempts to disclose her plans for supporting mass transit following her decision to put congestion pricing on hold earlier this month. This decision has created a $15 billion deficit in the budget of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

No Details from Hochul on MTA Funding

At an event in the Bronx, Hochul repeatedly avoided giving a concrete response to a reporter who sought information on how she intends to fund the MTA. This avoidance comes in the wake of the MTA’s impending plan to impose a $15 fee on drivers entering downtown Manhattan during peak hours. Without an alternative source of revenue, the nation’s most extensive public transit system may have to cancel projects ranging from new subway stations to elevator installations and could risk serious deterioration.

Despite the lack of clarity, Hochul reassured, “We’re working with the legislature as we speak. The projects will be funded,” before retreating to a room off-limits to the reporter. Details about these discussions are not forthcoming.

Rejection of Hochul’s Funding Suggestions

The Finance Committee, in charge of the state budget, expressed its surprise at the lack of a proposal from Governor Hochul. Two weeks ago, the legislature dismissed two of Hochul’s funding suggestions in the closing hours of the 2024 session. These consisted of levying taxes on New York City employers and allocating $1 billion to the MTA from undisclosed sources in the state budget. Neither of these suggestions would contribute to traffic or pollution reduction. The legislature plans to reconvene in January next year, with plans for a special session this year on congestion pricing yet to be announced.

Independent budget experts hold that potential alternatives to congestion pricing are minimal. Consequently, this may render it impossible for the MTA to execute significant upgrades, such as buying new train cars and making stations wheelchair accessible, to its aging system. As a consequence, the MTA is already halting work on notable projects, including the extension of the Q train service to Harlem and upgrades to the accessibility of Long Island Rail Road stations.

Hochul’s Muted Public Appearance

Hochul has been notably absent from public appearances in New York City and has opted for nationally televised interviews on other subjects. Among other remarks, she indicated that if congestion pricing was reintroduced, it would feature a lower toll. However, transportation researchers like Rachael Fauss of Reinvent Albany highlighted that Hochul cannot unilaterally reduce the tolls, as any changes require approval from the federal government.

In conclusion, the upcoming period appears challenging for the MTA as its primary source of revenue is in jeopardy, and clear strategies to maintain its operations have not been outlined. The lack of a concrete plan leaves a big question mark over NY’s traffic and pollution reduction goals as well as the future of mass transit in the state.


New York Governor Hochul Avoids Questions on Replacing Congestion Pricing Amidst $15 Billion MTA Budget Deficit

HERE Irmo
Author: HERE Irmo

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