ALBANY — Mass-transit riders rallied at the State Capitol on Monday, saying Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislators “cannot leave Albany” this year without approving a new funding answer to fix New York City’s troubled subway and bus system.
Delays, cancellations, accidents and overpacked subway cars are making riders “desperate for change,” said Rebecca Bailin of the Riders Alliance. The group voiced support for Cuomo’s “congestion pricing” plan and, while not explicitly endorsing it, said something needs to gain approval this year to address the problems.
“This budget season, Governor Cuomo needs to end the transit crisis that is undermining New Yorkers’ ability to get around the city,” Bailin said.
The group was joined by a raft of Democratic legislators, most of whom said they supported the concept of congestion pricing. Under a plan unveiled by a Cuomo transit panel, cars would pay $11.52 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street during peak hours (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), trucks would pay $25.34, and taxis and ride-sharing services (such as Lyft) would pay $2 to $5 per ride.
“An emergency fund is not going to cut it,” said Sen. Brian Kavanaugh (D-Manhattan). One Republican at the rally, Assemb. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) said some subway physical upgrades were 20 years overdue and that the congestion pricing plan was a “starting point,” but more detail was needed about how the money generated would be spent
Cuomo, a Democrat who is up for re-election this year, has said congestion pricing is an “idea whose time has come.” He has said the transit system needs a dedicated funding stream while keeping subway fares low. The governor has said he intends to discuss the plan with lawmakers this legislative session, which runs through mid-June.
A Cuomo spokesman said the governor has taken “aggressive action to fix the subways” by commissioning the congestion pricing panel, proposing more than $8 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital plan and offering to pay half of the MTA’s $800 million emergency plan for immediate subway fixes (which New York Mayor Bill de Blasio contends isn’t the state’s appropriate share).
The emergency fund and a congestion pricing plan might hinge on the Republican-led state Senate where Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) has been cool to the idea. A Flanagan spokesman reiterated Monday the senator is wary of imposing any additional costs on state residents.