During a Brooklyn subway trip Wednesday, Cynthia Nixon said New York City needs a “comprehensive” congestion pricing plan that includes new tolls on roads and criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo as someone who “is not very interested… in investing in infrastructure.”
While state leaders continue negotiating budget details ahead of their deadline this Sunday, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate most known for her role as Miranda Hobbes in “Sex and the City” said congestion pricing shouldn’t be limited to new fees on companies like Uber and Lyft, as some in Albany have proposed.
“I think we need comprehensive congestion pricing not just on Uber and Lyft and black cars and stuff like that,” said Nixon, who stressed that she does believe such fees should be included.
“Taxis already contribute to the MTA, and I think that’s really important,” she said while on a brief C train ride from Borough Hall to a campaign event in Crown Heights with Brooklyn borough President Eric Adams. “And I think all the new car services that have popped up need to also contribute to the MTA. It gives them a really unfair advantage over yellow taxis.”
When asked how she would fix the subways, Nixon called for new funding and again attacked the governor for focusing on cosmetic subway enhancements, instead of service improvements during his first two terms in office.
“We need money. We need a dedicated revenue stream. We have to be creative. I think congestion pricing is a great place to start,” Nixon said. “Governor Cuomo is not very interested, as we’ll see in NYCHA today, in investing in infrastructure. He’s interested in investing in things he can take a picture next to like the Second Avenue subway, a renovated station.”
Nixon’s views on congestion pricing clash with those of Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom she had campaigned for when he was running for mayor in 2013. De Blasio has offered support to a plan from the state Assembly’s budget resolution, which would add new per-trip charges to black cars, limousines and services like Uber in certain areas of Manhattan. But de Blasio has not gone so far as to support new tolls on Manhattan roads or East River Bridges.
Nixon, who has never run for elected office, did agree with de Blasio that the city shouldn’t fund half of the MTA’s $800 million Subway Action Plan, which aims to bring short-term service improvements to the system. She echoed de Blasio’s stance, pointing out that the city already contributes nearly 70 percent of the MTA’s revenue through taxes and ridership.”
“I think that the MTA is controlled by the state and it’s the state’s responsibility and the state’s got to step up,” she said. “I think that everybody needs to pull together. I think the MTA has to be the number one priority, but I think we have to all understand — as every other governor has always understood — that the MTA is the state’s responsibility.”
Nixon also said she didn’t understand why the Second Avenue subway had cost $3.5 billion. She feels the project should have only cost “half a billion” dollars per mile and said that union agreements would need to be addressed to bring costs down.
“With the deals that they [unions] have now, you can’t hope to make improvements to the trains in a fiscally responsible way,” she said, not specifying which unions she was referring to. “Everybody’s got to pull together, and everybody’s got to make sacrifices.”
Tony Utano, president of TWU Local 100, which represents MTA Transit workers and has been closely aligned with Cuomo, bashed Nixon over the labor comment.
“If Cynthia Nixon is talking about transit workers and wants to learn about our sacrifices, she should attend the funerals of the two transit workers who were killed on the job in the last eight days,” Utano said in a statement. “By the way, the city absolutely should pay it’s fair share of the Subway Action Plan.”
Peter Ajemian, a spokesman for the governor, pointed out that Cuomo has been the one to spearhead talks over congestion pricing for the city.
He added that the governor supports all recommendations from the Fix NYC congestion pricing panel which the governor had assembled — including the panel’s proposal to toll vehicular traffic as it crosses 60th Street in Manhattan.
Ajemian also touted Cuomo’s $100 billion, five-year infrastructure strategy for the state.
Nixon has a tough hill to climb in her primary race against Cuomo, who has amassed $30 million in his campaign account. A Quinnipiac Poll published Wednesday, which surveyed 955 city voters, found that 56 percent approve of the job Cuomo is doing and 58 percent believe he would be better for the city than Nixon.