Riders Alliance Pressure Hochul to Fast-Track Congestion Pricing

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Incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul has barely uttered her oath of office and the public transit advocacy organization Riders Alliance is already ramping up the pressure on the new state executive to fast-track congestion pricing.

The organization spearheaded a ‘Big Tent’ letter Tuesday – the same day Hochul was sworn in – demanding quick action on the tolling plan of Manhattan’s Central Business District to avoid fare hikes, dirty air, and unreliable trains. 

“Governor Hochul can secure the future of New York and the transit system New Yorkers depend on by standing strong and delivering a robust congestion program,” said Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum. “Low fares, clean air, and reliable service are the foundations of an equitable recovery. With congestion pricing in place, New York’s transit system can provide the modern, reliable, accessible infrastructure that our city needs and deserves.”

Signatories of the letter included the Real Estate Board of New York and shared economy transportation companies Uber and Lyft as well as the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance and New York Communities for Change. 

The letter comes as recent attention has focussed on whether the federal environmental assessment, now expected to take 16 months, could happen faster. With congestion pricing in the city passing the state legislature in 2019, the Riders Alliance sees Hochul’s commitment as being pivotal to the build-out of the tolling program, which they say will bring in $15 billion for much-needed subway upgrades.

In her initial speech as governor, Hochul focussed mainly on COVID-19 related issues and did not mention congestion pricing, but did tell the Times through a spokesman earlier this month that she “has supported congestion pricing in the past, but the pace and timing is something she will need to evaluate further given the constantly changing impact of Covid-19 on commuters.”

Meanwhile, Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams, the overwhelming favorite to win the general election in November continues to support fast-tracking the plan to charge motorists from the outer boroughs and elsewhere to drive into Manhattan.

“New York City is ready to lead with our first-in-the-nation congestion pricing plan. Let’s get this done,” said Adams in a recent tweet.