MTA CEO Janno Lieber says agency must shrink subway improvements after congestion pricing pause

ByRaegan Medgie, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
MTA responds to congestion pricing pause
Raegan Medgie has the latest on the response to the congestion pricing pause from MTA officials.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- MTA CEO Janno Lieber on Monday addressed Governor Kathy Hochul's decision to slam the brakes on congestion pricing.

The governor's decision left several questions about how the MTA will fund the improvements it so badly needs.

Now, Lieber's focus is keeping the system running without the expected $1 billion in annual revenue congestion pricing promised.

Governor Hochul, who supported the congestion pricing plan for years, announced she was pausing it last Wednesday--blindsiding Lieber and many others.

The plan would have charged a $15.00 fee to all cars that drive below 60th Street in Manhattan.

Lieber said the agency will need to shift to prioritizing maintaining the safety of the underlying system, as well as ensuring that service isn't reduced.

"It's not something we do lightly. But we simply cannot award contracts without dedicated funding in place," Lieber, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's CEO and chairman, told reporters at a news conference. He said he found out about Hochul's decision the night before she made the announcement.

The MTA was expecting to receive billions from the nation's first "congestion pricing" scheme, with motorists paying to enter Manhattan south of Central Park. The tolls, set to launch later this month, were set to finance $15 billion in capital projects for the beleaguered transit system, and had been expected to yield $400 million this year and then $1 billion annually, according to the New York City Independent Budget Office.

Hochul, who had long been publicly supportive of the congestion pricing scheme, chalked up her change of heart to the financial burden she said the toll would pose on New Yorkers already struggling with the high costs of living, as well as its possible impact on New York City's ongoing economic recovery from the pandemic.

The governor hasn't said how she would replace the funding that the MTA was banking on receiving from the toll to pay for upgrades and fixes. Hochul had suggested raising taxes on businesses to make up for the toll revenue. But state lawmakers rejected that plan and didn't take up legislation to replace the congestion pricing revenue before the legislative session ended Friday.

To those who are frustrated by Hochul's reversal, Lieber said, "I can relate."

"It's not in my nature to walk or to quit. People did a lot of hard work in hard times and I couldn't possibly justify walking away because of a single set back -- even one of this magnitude," Lieber said in a press conference.

The MTA still plans to pursue congestion pricing, according to Lieber. And it will continue to fight lawsuits from New Jersey and others that sought to halt the program before Hochul did, he said.


Some information from The Associated Press

ALSO READ: NJ reaction to postponement of congestion pricing

Anthony Johnson has the latest in New Jersey on congestion pricing.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.