Watch CBS News

MTA board discusses impact of congestion pricing delay as public gets chance to sound off

MTA board grapples with impact of congestion pricing pause
MTA board grapples with impact of congestion pricing pause 03:54

NEW YORK -- Gov. Kathy Hochul's decision to put a pause on congestion pricing in New York City has forced the MTA board to consider what projects might have to be scrapped or put on hold

Wednesday, the MTA had its first board meeting since Hochul's shocking announcement. 

Under congestion pricing, most drivers would have to pay $15 to enter the congestion relief zone south of 60th Street. 

Without the $15 billion that would've come from congestion pricing, the MTA says there will be significant cutbacks. A number of projects are being put on hold, including updating subway signals, accessibility, zero emission buses, infrastructure upgrades, and more. 

The mood was somber Wednesday for MTA officials who said they now have major problems on their hands. They say it's going to take more than a miracle to complete those projects without the help of congestion pricing. 

"We have to focus on what we can do, and what we can't," MTA Chairman & CEO Janno Lieber said. 

Lieber says he believes the road ahead will be challenging. 

"The fact is that the MTA, it's just the reality, we cannot implement congestion pricing without the New York State DOT signoff," Lieber said. 

Lieber spoke just after the MTA board voted to pass a resolution that agreed to put congestion pricing on pause and to pick up the tolling program at a later date. But that motion comes with the difficult reality the MTA board must face: It's tasked with only being able to spend $12 billion in its current capital program to sustain the system. 

According to the MTA, that includes: 

  • $2 billion towards tracks
  • $2 billion for maintaining stations
  • $4.5 billion overall infrastructure
  • $2.5 billion for rolling stock
  • $1 billion for the transit system's support and design

And the projects to be deferred?

  • Second Avenue subway extension to East Harlem
  • ADA accessibility upgrades at 23 subway stations
  • Zero emission buses
  • New subway signals
  • New train fleet 
  • Upgrades to infrastructure, such as the work to preserve the lifespan of bridges like the Verrazzano

"Governor Hochul decided on the needs to benefit the few instead of the needs to benefit the many," Lisa Daglian, president of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said. 

"The $15 billion that congestion pricing raises, supports 100,000 good paying jobs," one person said. 

Five million daily riders rely on the transit system.     

What about the revenue congestion pricing was supposed to bring in?

Congestion pricing was expected to bring in $1 billion a year in new revenue. The pause has resulted in the delay of major capital projects, like the 2nd Avenue subway extension, and new elevators. 

"Once we have elevators in every station, more people will use the subway to get to where they want to go," congestion pricing supporter Michael Ring said. 

"By deferring these legally-mandated accessibility upgrades, the MTA and the state are breaking a promise to New Yorkers with disabilities. Shame on the elected officials who are cheering this indefinite pause while providing no real alternative -- they've cost our communities these elevators," state Sen. Andrew Gounardes said.   

MTA Chair Janno Lieber said he's committed to working with Hochul and the Legislature on finding new revenue sources for the major projects that are now on hold.   

Most of the speakers at Wednesday's event supported congestion pricing, but a recent Siena College poll showed a plurality of New York state voters don't. Only 25% said Hochul made the wrong move by pausing it. In April, a whopping 63% of New Yorkers said they outright opposed the toll. 

"It would have increased pollution and traffic on Staten Island and in Brooklyn for the benefit of a few in Manhattan," Assemblyman Michael Tannousis said. 

Leaders said the goal is to continue managing the current capital program, but admit the pause could have a significant impact on the next capital program.

More speakers than the board could accommodate

More than 140 people signed up to speak during an MTA public comment period Wednesday morning, more than the meeting could accommodate. They MTA had to cut off the public speaking period, telling those that had yet to speak they would be recorded on a separate feed while the rest of the meeting continued. 

Passionate supporters of congestion pricing expressed their frustration outside of the meeting. They're upset with Hochul. 

"This is really bad stuff," Pete Sikora of New York Communities for Change said. 

While at MTA headquarters, speakers urged the board to take a stand. 

"If the governor goes through with this, she should be prepared for lawsuits come June 30. This board has a fiduciary duty to enact this program and we encourage you to speak out against the governor's pause," Elizabeth Adams said. 

Hochul issues statement 

Hochul says New Yorkers shouldn't be concerned. 

She released a statement saying her team will work with the MTA and legislature to develop ways to fund the remaining projects and implement financial solutions to next term's capital budget. 

"Last year, as the MTA faced a fiscal cliff that represented one of the most existential threats in the system's history, I proposed and then worked successfully with the state legislature to secure significant, reliable, and recurring operating funding for the MTA in the state budget. As a result, the MTA is now in a strong financial position, which will allow it to continue to meet its responsibilities to its millions of riders to provide safe and timely transport. And at a time when transit systems across the country are cutting service to their riders, New York has instead provided increased service across the MTA system," Hochul said. "It is also important to note that the MTA is in the process of finalizing its 2025-2029 capital plan, which will be voted on by the MTA Board this fall, and would require new funding sources. In the coming months, my team will work with the MTA to further develop a comprehensive approach to fund both the remaining projects in the 2020-2024 capital plan and the new capital plan. And I will continue to work in partnership with the state legislature to implement comprehensive solutions and ensure appropriate funding sources in next year's budget."

New York City rated most congested in the world

Coincidentally, a new report issued Wednesday ranked New York City as the most congested city in the world, unseating London from the top spot. 

The INRIX Global Traffic Report found a typical driver sat in traffic for 101 hours. That's more than four days. The report also found Manhattan is getting more congested, with trips increasing 13% last year. 

Here are the top five most congested cities, based on data collected in 2023, according to the report: 

  1. New York City
  2. Mexico City
  3. London
  4. Paris
  5. Chicago
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.