NY Gov, NYC Mayor Announce Joint Support for Congestion Pricing, Overhaul of MTA
The plan, if approved, would install electronic tolling devices on streets south of 61st St. in Manhattan , according to a news release. Money generated by the new tolls would go into a "lockbox" dedicated to cover the MTA's capital costs, with the "priority given to the subway system" and other city mass transit concerns.
There were no details about the cost of tolls, although the governor said he hoped the plan would be in place by the end of 2020.
A percentage of revenues generated from the state's anticipated "cannabis excise tax" will also go toward funding the new MTA plan, along with a fixed amount collected through the new internet sales tax in the city.
"I still believe a Millionaires Tax provides the best, most sustainable revenue source for the transit improvements our city needs," said de Blasio, who had previously expressed his opposition to the congestion pricing plan.
"But the time to act is running out, and among all alternatives, congestion pricing has the greatest prospects for immediate success," he continued. "In light of this reality, it is my hope that critics of congestion pricing will join me in acknowledging its necessity."
The plan also called for a reorganization of the sprawling MTA, with its current "antiquated structure ... fundamentally changed to centralize functions" among its half-dozen existing operations, according to the release from the two Democrats .
"This is a different plan," said Cuomo during a radio appearance on WNYC. "I think the mayor had a number of issues that he felt strongly about. This plan addresses them ... This is a proposal the mayor and I agree on. I am sure there will be a lot of debate."
NYC Transit, the Long Island Rail Road , Metro-North, MTA Bus, SI Railway and the MTA Capital Construction , all currently operating independently, would consolidate common operations -- including construction management, legal, engineering, procurement, human resources and advertising.
"The restructuring plan must be coupled with a change in culture, which will generate fresh ideas and new perspective from new and recently appointed senior and mid-level management recruited from the private sector and other cities and states," the release declared.
Authorities estimated reaping about $320 million annually from the taxes collected by online retailers under a Supreme Court ruling last year, while the state weed windfall was expected to hit $125 million per year.
The plan hopes to hold fare increases for mass transit to 2% annually to cover the costs of inflation.
The governor and his City Hall frenemy also called for an independent audit of the MTA, to be finished by January 2020 , for an accurate evaluation of its financial condition.
"The forecasts, projections and capital plans they have put forth strain financial credibility," the two politicians declared in the joint release.
MTA Acting Chair Fernando Ferrer , appointed by the governor in 2017, unsurprisingly expressed his backing for the proposal.
"This proposal is a holistic cure for much of what ails the MTA, and I hope to see it enacted swiftly for the benefit of our 8.5 million daily customers," he said.
The proposal was immediately hailed by Stuart Gruskin , chief conservation and external affairs officer for The Nature Conservancy , and senior vice president Kate Slevin of the Regional Plan Association .
"Congestion pricing will bring numerous benefits to all of New York State , including cleaner air and improved public health," said Gruskin.
Slevin said the endorsement of both de Blasio and Cuomo for congestion pricing was the biggest revelation in the rollout of the plan.
"We've always said it has to be a city-state effort to get congestion pricing approved," she said. "It's a positive step and it shows leadership that the mayor and governor are committed to working together to address the transit crisis."
The MTA, under the proposal, would kickstart its subway action plan with service improvements that include signal repair, refurbishment work, station enhancements and rail welding. And there's mention of a crackdown on fare-beaters, without any specifics, involving both the city and the state.
" Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio are in full agreement," said Jason Kaplan , spokesperson for the advocacy group Fix Our Transit. "Eyes are now solely on the Albany Legislature to fix New York's broken transit system by passing a comprehensive congestion pricing plan in this year's budget."
With Dan Rivoli
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