Congest fee grid­lock

Dems ‘50-50’ on traf­fic charge to fuel tran­sit re­tool

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY KEN­NETH LOVETT

AL­BANY — As­sem­bly Democrats were said to be split last week when pri­vately dis­cussing the idea of con­ges­tion pric­ing as a way to raise needed money for the cash-strapped MTA.

The As­sem­bly Dems who spoke up dur­ing the meet­ing were said to be split roughly “50-50,” though the de­gree of sup­port var­ied, sources said.

Con­ges­tion pric­ing has strong back­ing from a num­ber of Demo­cratic mem­bers from Man­hat­tan, but less so in the outer bor­oughs and sub­urbs, sources said.

Some gave full-throated en­dorse­ments to cre­at­ing a toll to en­ter a cen­tral Man­hat­tan busi­ness dis­trict south of 60th St.

Oth­ers ex­pressed open­ness to the idea with the con­di­tion there be a com­mit­ment to help with mass tran­sit and other is­sues in their dis­tricts, while oth­ers were dead set against con­ges­tion pric­ing, a con­cept that has proven to be a heavy lift in the Leg­is­la­ture in the past.

One tran­sit ad­vo­cate was op­ti­mistic about what came out of the ini­tial As­sem­bly con­fer­ence.

“That’s a hell of a lot bet­ter than we were do­ing in the As­sem­bly be­fore, but ob­vi­ously there is work to do,” he said.

An As­sem­bly source said that “I think ev­ery­one rec­og­nizes the need to do some­thing for the MTA, but whether it’s con­ges­tion pric­ing or some­thing else, that’s the question.”

Gov. Cuomo, who wants con­ges­tion pric­ing passed as part of the state bud­get in March, said last week the choice for law­mak­ers will come down to ap­prov­ing the idea that he es­ti­mates could steer $15 bil­lion in new money to the MTA — or balk and watch fares and tolls jump nearly 30%.

Many law­mak­ers at a re­cent state bud­get hear­ing ex­pressed frus­tra­tion that nei­ther Cuomo nor the MTA have pro­vided specifics as to what the con­ges­tion pric­ing plan would be.

Sen. Michael Gia­naris (DQueens) and oth­ers have pro­posed hik­ing taxes on the wealthy in the New York City area to raise money for mass tran­sit im­prove­ments, though there cur­rently has been lit­tle wide­spread ap­petite to raise taxes this year in the Leg­is­la­ture.

GETTY

As fed-up rid­ers have ral­lied for a long-term tran­sit fix, Democrats have been di­vided over whether con­ges­tion pric­ing is the so­lu­tion.

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