With Congestion Pricing Dead, a $17 Billion Transit Deficit Looms

We're putting in some calls and getting some initial reactions to the State Assembly's failure to bring New York City's congestion pricing plan to a vote today.

Michael O'Loughlin at the Campaign for New York's Future said:

Congestion pricing is dead. Long live congestion pricing.

The Assembly still has to come up with a plan to deal with a $17 billion transit deficit in a $29 billion capital plan. As Gene Russianoff at the Straphangers Campaign said, 'That's more hole than plan.'

The fundamental facts remain the same. The traffic problem and air pollution problems are real. The need for better transit is real. Two-thirds of New Yorkers support congestion pricing if the funds are used for transit. The success of congestion pricing in other cities is real. The reality is that we have to come up with a plan to solve our traffic and transit crisis, if not today then tomorrow.

Now, the legislature has to confront the MTA capital plan. They have to come up with billions and billions of dollars from somewhere.

It doesn't end here. The issue is engaged and it's not going away. But this is a bad day for 7.5 million transit riders, that's for sure.

Noah Budnick at Transportation Alternatives said:

There is still a lot that the Mayor and City Council can do without the state but it's certainly less than what we could do with that $354 million in federal money, the hundreds of millions of dollars in congestion pricing revenue and the billions in bond money that we could have done with congestion pricing.

The city doesn't need Albany's permission to undertake parking policy reform, to establish market rate curbside parking and to start reclaiming street space from automobiles and repurposing it for other uses. The city doesn't need state approval to build dedicated bus ways and protected bike lanes. Bus lane enforcement cameras do need Albany's permission but can be stand-alone legislation and may not be as heavy a lift. Creating pedestrian-only streets temporarily or permanently, Albany has no say over that. And we could establish a bike-sharing program similar to what Paris has done.