Op-ed: Congestion pricing would do much more harm than good for New Yorkers

Like many residents throughout the five boroughs and across the New York Metro Area, I was pleasantly surprised by Governor Kathy Hochul’s decision to “indefinitely pause” the implementation of Congestion Pricing. Rather than seeing this as a cynical calculation, as some have alleged, I see the Governor’s decision as a deeply pragmatic response to the crescendo of public concerns that I and many others have raised for years. As the countdown to the June 30 implementation date neared, everyday New Yorkers did what we do best: we spoke up for ourselves and said we won’t accept a bad deal! I applaud Governor Hochul for having the courage not just to listen to us but to take a tough stand against this misguided policy.

My opposition to the Central Business District Tolling Program – commonly known as “Congestion Pricing” – has been long-standing and unwavering for almost two decades. I fought the policy as a member of the New York City Council, and I am still in the fight as the representative for New York’s 24th State Assembly District. Much of my district in Queens is a public transit desert and will be one of the most adversely impacted by the proposed congestion pricing tax. A trip into Manhattan can take hours and often requires multiple bus and subway lines, whereas driving cuts that time in half. Many of my constituents have no viable transportation options other than driving. Public transit must be improved, but even if the fiscal windfall from congestion pricing came in tomorrow for capital project expenses, it would leave everyone in limbo between inflated costs to drive and non-existent transit improvements that will take years to complete.