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Why some NYC congestion pricing proponents say charging less is key to restarting tolling plan

New campaign underway to get Gov. Hochul to restart congestion pricing
New campaign underway to get Gov. Hochul to restart congestion pricing 02:52

NEW YORK -- There's a new campaign to get Gov. Kathy Hochul to put congestion pricing back on track -- by charging less.

The latest idea for finding money for the MTA might be called the "take a page from the Brits" campaign, because when London started it's tolling plan the fee was 5 pounds, or $6.32 in American currency. Now, lawmakers are suggesting a lower price point to get the program up and running.

All this comes as the comptroller and his allies are considering legal action and activists are reminding the governor about the ramifications of pausing the program.

"We are here today to get Gov. Kathy Hochul what she wants ... more cars," said Elizabeth Adams of Transportation Alternatives.

And with that, congestion pricing advocates prepared to deliver 2,000 toy cars to Hochul to dramatize what her decision to pause the controversial tolling program has done to the streets of New York.

"To make sure the governor gets the message that millions of New Yorkers who rely on public transit, millions of New Yorkers who are demanding cleaner air and safe streets, get the change they deserve," Adams said.

"We should mend it, not end it"  

State lawmakers are suggesting that a modified congestion pricing may be the way to resurrect the plan, starting at a lower price point than the proposed $15.

"The governor has heard from state legislators, like me, who strongly believe we should mend it, not end it," state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal said. "We understand that there might be sticker shock at a charge of $15 to enter the city."

Lawmakers appear to be reacting to the governor's decision to pause congestion pricing some three weeks before its June 30 start date. She said the price was too high for the fragile economy.

"The baseline of $9 is a figure that might be considered without having the federal environmental review start again from scratch," Hoylman-Sigal said.

In the interim, what about other funding streams for MTA?  

Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger said she has been meeting with the governor to discuss alternative funding streams for the MTA.

"I actually don't think there is a better proposal than congestion pricing, but I'm open to hear what she has to say. She has not come back to me with a proposal as of now," Krueger said.

Krueger said if the governor wanted to charge less than $9 the federal environmental review would have to start all over again.

"We have to color within the lines that have been drawn, so to speak," Krueger said.

A spokesman for the governor said Hochul is hoping to include an MTA funding proposal in next year's budget.

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