Mayor Eric Adams tapped Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen for a state board that will come up with tolls and exemptions for New York City’s congestion pricing program.
The labor leader will join five members chosen by Governor Kathy Hochul for the so-called Traffic Mobility Review Board to devise the future charges for drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street.
“John Samuelsen is a champion of safe, reliable public transit, and he shares my commitment to getting congestion pricing done so we can invest in mass transit and reduce traffic,” Mayor Adams said in a statement.
The TMRB will be tasked with recommending tolls, discounts, and exemptions for the nation’s first congestion pricing scheme to charge motorists heading into Manhattan’s business district to fund transit upgrades.
Hochul’s five nominees announced by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week were predominantly representatives of the city’s real estate and business interests, and Samuelsen said he will be a voice for workers on the panel.
“My appointment to the TMRB is an historic recognition by Mayor Adams of the importance of MTA workers as the second biggest stakeholder in our nation’s largest transportation system,” he said in a statement. “Workers will now have a voice in the implementation of this important plan.”
Samuelsen also sits on the MTA board as a non-voting member and he was previously in talks with City Hall to become a voting member of the transit board.
He represents more than 150,000 members in the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities, and service sectors and was sworn in as TWU’s international president in 2017.
The Brooklynite was previously the president of TWU Local 100 in New York City, the union’s largest local which represents the majority of the city’s subway and bus workers.
The state’s long-delayed congestion pricing inched forward last week as MTA chief Janno Lieber announced that the agency will release an environmental assessment on or about Aug. 10 after months of back and forth with the Federal Highway Administration.
The agency will hold six public hearings about the review later this month between Aug. 25-31.
The charge is expected to bring in $1 billion a year, against which the MTA plans to bond $15 billion to help fund its $55 billion capital plan to modernize the aging subway system.
Transit officials expect to get final federal approval for the plan later this year and start collecting tolls at the end of 2023 or in early 2024.