Hochul congestion pricing hike puts struggling New Yorkers in a jam


New Yorkers are currently feeling deep economic pain, with unbearable taxes, inflation hitting new highs, food and gas prices skyrocketing, and they now are forced to pick between putting food on their table or paying their energy bill. Yet, at a time when they need financial help the most, Kathy Hochul wants to turn the screws on struggling New Yorkers upward of another $34.50 a day.

That’s right. Last week, the MTA released its plan to begin congestion pricing, charging up to $34.50 per day for drivers traveling south of 60th Street in Manhattan. As if it wasn’t bad enough that this Hochul Hike would raise another $1 billion a year on the backs of hardworking New Yorkers, with no changes that would force the MTA to spend this taxpayer money more efficiently or effectively, the kicker is, historically, congestion pricing has failed spectacularly at its stated goals.

There is no plan for what the MTA will do with that money to improve the city.
Hochul’s congestion pricing plan would cost New Yorkers $1 billion a year.

Look at London

Even after implementing congestion pricing in London, drivers still ended up spending even more of their lives in traffic, while also paying far more annually in the congestion-pricing fees that are supposed to cut down on traffic. The backup became so heavy in the areas flowing just outside of London’s congestion zones that measures had to be taken to reduce the amount of cars there as well.

Congestion pricing in New York City would have the same impact on the surrounding boroughs as felt in London. Many trucks that will not be able to use alternative routes will end up causing more traffic on major highways in the South Bronx and Staten Island. This means more bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Cross Bronx, Staten Island Expressway and other accompanying bridges along your commute to and from work every day.

London’s plan for congestion pricing blew up in their face when their alternative modes of transportation were not as efficient as driving. Due to their exemption from congestion tolling, use of private-hire drivers, such as Ubers, soared. Despite adding more than 300 buses to their fleet, London commuters continued to use cars because bus reliability dropped dramatically.

There have been a slew of stabbing and slashings on the city's subways.
Crime on the city’s subways has increased in recent months.
Getty Images

London’s issues are only foreshadowing for New York’s, especially considering the state of our public transportation system. Those in favor of congestion pricing point to the subway or other methods of transportation as alternatives, but how can Hochul look New Yorkers straight in the face when her pro-criminal policies like cashless bail, Less is More, defunding the police and much more are eroding public safety?

The New York City subway system has racked up many undesirable headlines over the last few months. We’ve had Daniel Enriquez, a Goldman Sachs employee, shot and killed on the Q train. We watched the video of a cop brutally attacked for trying to enforce laws against turnstile hopping just a few weeks ago. New Yorkers are grabbing onto poles and guard rails because they fear being pushed onto the tracks.

Back on track

If Kathy Hochul and the MTA want to see less cars on our streets and more people in our subways, maybe they should work to actually make them a more appealing mode of transportation.

To reduce congestion, we need to take steps to make sure the MTA is spending money efficiently and alternative modes of transportation, like our subways, are safe. Instead, many commuters who live in New Jersey or Connecticut may elect to switch or leave their jobs based in New York City, further stifling New York City’s economic recovery in a city that has been plagued by COVID shutdowns.

On paper, congestion pricing aims to create a revenue pipeline for the MTA to modernize public transportation infrastructure and reduce congestion in various parts of the city. In practice, this is a failed policy that will only deepen the economic pain which so many hardworking New Yorkers are already experiencing.

With New York already facing a mass exodus, this Hochul Hike will help kick the outward flow of migration into overdrive.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-LI) is a candidate for governor of New York.


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