Transportation organizations see ally in Hochul

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in Albany, New York
New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference the day after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation at the New York State Capitol, in Albany, New York, U.S., August 11, 2021.
REUTERS/Cindy Schultz

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul’s imminent rise to the governorship of New York State will change the political calculus in Albany. For transportation advocacy groups, they hope Hochul’s tenure will lead to a seismic shift in how New Yorkers commute.

In the wake of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, many nonprofits dedicated to sustainable transportation are hoping that the next governor will heed the advice of planning experts.

“We expect a flux in leadership of New York’s most powerful agencies, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and Empire State Development,” said Renae Reynolds, Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign – a riders advocacy group. “It is not yet clear how Governor Cuomo’s announcement will impact New York’s infrastructure projects, including Penn Station redevelopment and the LaGuardia AirTrain, but we look forward to working with Governor Hochul to ensure that New Yorkers receive the best return on their investment.”

Reynolds and other leading activists hope Hochul will focus on a new congestion pricing plan to raise revenue for MTA projects while cutting down on car usage. 

“Hochul must break the congestion pricing logjam to deliver a steady revenue stream for transit and cleaner air for New Yorkers,” Executive Director Danny Harris of Transportation Alternatives – a sustainable transportation nonprofit – said in a statement. “Hochul must expand bike and pedestrian access on MTA bridges, like the Verrazano, to meet the bike boom and give more transportation alternatives to New Yorkers without cars. Hochul must also help deliver the cure for our traffic violence epidemic by supporting and signing into law the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act that Albany failed to pass this year.”

The demands of activists couples with hopes that Hochul’s previous support of efforts to curb speeding deaths will guide her views as governor.

“Public transit must top Governor Hochul’s packed agenda from day one,” Riders Alliance Executive Director Betsy Plum said in a press release. “New Yorkers need Governor Hochul to implement congestion pricing fully and fairly, restore more frequent train and bus service for millions of daily riders, and equitably transform how the MTA delivers for the communities that depend on transit the most.”

Hochul will be able to draw support from federal funds from the newly passed infrastructure bill. The legislation includes $110 billion for transportation programs, roads, and bridges, as well as $66 billion in Amtrak investments that include the Northeast Corridor from DC to Boston.

Whatever the final figures are for New York State specifically, Hochul will have to balance the demands of competing interest groups and a limited pool of financing. There will be no honeymoon for the new Governor of New York.

Hochul’s office could not be reached for comment in time for publication.