Manhattan BP Levine wants congestion pricing details as outside reps work to ‘delay or stop it’

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine on Wednesday urged the MTA to begin working out details of its much-delayed plan for toll drivers entering Manhattan under 60th Street – as members of Congress pushed to influence the program by controlling federal dollars.

“New Yorkers need congestion pricing, and they need it done right. That’s what our recommendations are about,” Levine told reporters at a news conference at East 60th Street and Fifth Avenue.

“We are raising these important political issues now because we don’t want the fight over these issues to set us back any longer.”

Levine’s proposals include measures to encourage the use of bicycles and buses – such as more electric Citi bikes – as well as a toll structure that takes into account fees already charged at bridges and tunnels entering the city.

Most Manhattanites do not own a car, and borough residents are the region’s strongest supporters of congestion tolls, according to polls.

Residents and officials in outer boroughs and suburbs are less enthusiastic — and U.S. Representatives Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) and Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey) responded to Levine’s appeal with proposals to prevent the federal dollars to go to congestion pricing.

The MTA’s congestion pricing plan would see drivers being charged a fee to enter Manhattan below 60th Street.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

“While some gather today to move this congestion pricing plan forward, I remain strongly opposed to further taxation of the American people and will do everything possible to delay it or stop it altogether,” Malliotakis said. in a press release.

Levine is criticized by those in the outer boroughs, including Malliotakis.
Levine urged the MTA to start releasing details on its congestion pricing plan.
Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

According to Malliotakis and Gottheimer’s plans, federal dollars could not be used for congestion pricing “until an economic impact analysis is completed” — and only if tolls feature a “credit system.” to reimburse drivers who would otherwise pay twice to enter the city.

An MTA official said the authority does not plan to use federal money for the toll program — but officials have the option to request it, a Malliotakis representative said.

Ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature approved the toll plan in 2019, in an effort to fund the MTA’s $55 billion modernization program that is supposed to result in more reliable and frequent trains , in addition to dozens of new elevators and thousands of new electric buses for the region.

Transit leaders are now undertaking an environmental review of the plan, which is slated for implementation by the end of 2023 – more than two years after initial planning.

Hochul has yet to set up the “traffic mobility review board” which will be responsible for setting toll prices and authorizing exemptions or discounts.

Malliotakis criticized Levine's plan for the fee.
Malliotakis’ proposal would prevent federal dollars from being allocated to congestion pricing.
Stefan Jérémie for NY Post

“The MTA has continued to forcefully push forward the state’s congestion pricing initiative,” MTA External Relations Chief John McCarthy said in a statement.

“We welcome the Borough President’s support for a program that will reduce traffic, provide significant environmental benefits and provide substantial funding for capital initiatives to benefit public transit. »

Maria D. Ervin