$16.5 billion in MTA projects being deferred due to congestion pricing pause

ByLindsay Tuchman, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, June 27, 2024
$16.5B in MTA projects being deferred due to congestion pricing pause
NJ Burkett has details on the first MTA board meeting since Gov. Hochul paused the congestion pricing plan.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The full MTA Board met for the first time since New York Gov. Kathy Hochul paused the controversial congestion-pricing tolling plan.

Transit leaders said Wednesday was the biggest turnout for a board meeting that anyone can remember.

Congestion pricing was expected to bring in billions of dollars for the Transit Authority, which was going to be used for minor and major repairs and projects.

The pause leaves a multi-billion hole in the agency's budget and $16.5 billion in projects are being deferred due to the pause.

"Here's what we can do: We can pivot and work to protect the short-term and long-term interests of the MTA and of transit riders," said MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber.

Officials are reprioritizing projects under the capital plan. Specifically, high priority projects that will move forward include state of good repair work for safe subway, bus and rail operations.

Lower priority projects include case-by-case replacement projects that may impact efficiency, such as signal modernization and renewal projects at five stations.

And even lower priority deferrals include expansion projects like the Second Avenue Subway, accessibility improvements at 23 subway stations and other less urgent upgrades like electric buses and more.

The MTA also voted 10-1 on a resolution that acknowledges the congestion pricing pause. It is the same margin as when the board set the proposed congestion pricing toll in December, with board member David Mack again voting no.

The board held committee meetings Monday and many expressed concern over the ability to even keep up with routine maintenance without that cash coming in.

"The biggest concern is that we're going to run short, making sure that we can cover the most critical of repairs and maintenance investments to just keep the system running," said Samuel Chu, MTA board member. "And we're really going to have to, you know, look at this with scrutiny to make sure we're making the right decisions."

"To see it all delayed is very depressing," said David Jones, MTA board member. "You look at what happened to New Jersey Transit because of the heat wave, these systems have to be invested in to sustain themselves."

Mayor Eric Adams has said the city will crack down on double-parked vehicles and other things that slow down traffic while the pause is in effect. He also acknowledged the MTA's needs for revitalization.

"A lot of that traffic happened because of COVID, and because people stopped feeling safe on the subway system. We're going to turn that around, that should be the primary commute for New Yorkers. We're going to do our role and I have faith in the governor and the team in Albany to do their role up in Albany," Adams said.

A rally was also held Wednesday morning ahead of the meeting with transit advocates calling on Hochul to unpause congestion pricing. She has said her goal is to find another way to get the MTA the funding it needs.

The MTA should have "full confidence in future funding streams," the governor said in a statement Wednesday. "There is no reason for New Yorkers to be concerned that any planned projects will not be delivered."

When asked to comment, Lieber told reporters, "I accept the governor at her word."

ALSO READ | MTA stops construction on Second Avenue subway amid congestion pricing pause

Josh Einiger has details on the construction pause.


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