Watch CBS News

Long Island Republicans urge Gov. Kathy Hochul to pull support for congestion pricing

Long Island Republicans voice opposition to congestion pricing
Long Island Republicans voice opposition to congestion pricing 02:26

MINEOLA, N.Y. -- Republican lawmakers from Long Island are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to end her support for congestion pricing

Praised by some to steer commuters off gridlocked roads and onto mass transit, these lawmakers call the plan a "license to steal."

"This isn't about cleaner air, this isn't about less traffic. This is about nothing more than money -- money being thrown into the black hole that is the MTA," New York State Sen. Steven Rhoads said Monday. "The MTA stands for one thing, the MTA stands for 'Money Thrown Away.'"     

Last week, the MTA board voted to move forward with the plan that would charge most cars $15 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street. 

It will be half price for low-income commuters, but so far, no exemptions for first responders who have to work in Manhattan or others for whom mass transit isn't an option -- like retiree Bob Green. 

"I've parked in Freeport, Merrick, Bellmore, and I can't find parking spots after 11 a.m.," he told CBS New York's Carolyn Gusoff. "So with congestion pricing and more people on the train, where are they going to put the cars?"

"My small businesses, my young professionals who are trying to get out of their parents' house, the restaurants who have suppliers in the city, and I have people who own businesses in the city," said Cathy McGrory Powell, with the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce. "Enough is enough already. It really is, we're all hurting."

The plan now heads into a 60-day public comment period, and opposing lawmakers are starting constituent petitions. 

"We've got to stop letting the MTA increase their own income without looking at their expenses," New York State Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. 

"We'll just just turn to the taxpayers again and hit them again," said New York State Sen. Dean Murray. "It's death by 1,000 cuts."

The city-based Riders Alliance disagrees, arguing time saved in traffic is money saved. 

"Congestion alone is an immense drag on our economy, and families and businesses will overwhelmingly benefit from congestion pricing," Danny Pearlstein said. 

But these Long Island lawmakers say lower fares to get drivers to ditch their cars, instead of rolling out the nation's first congestion tolls. 

LIRR Acting President Rob Free told CBS New York: 

"The Long Island Rail Road allows Long Island and regional economies to thrive and has greatly benefitted from capital investment, including $17 billion to modernize the LIRR with a new Manhattan terminal, rebuilt Concourse at Penn Station, a Main Line Third Track, double track to Ronkonkoma, and new station at Elmont-UBS Arena. The vast majority of Long Islanders who go to Manhattan use mass transit and take advantage of all these capital investments, and don't contribute to the extreme congestion that causes ambulances, police, fire, and buses to be unable to move."

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.