MTA board pessimistic about future projects after congestion pricing pause

ByLindsay Tuchman, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, June 24, 2024
MTA board pessimistic after congestion pricing pause
N.J. Burkett has the latest on MTA projects since the congestion pricing pause.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA met for the first time on Monday since Gov. Kathy Hochul indefinitely paused the city's congestion pricing plan.

The controversial tolls were supposed to start on Sunday and the money collected would be set aside for much-needed upgrades to subways and buses.

Now the board remains pessimistic about the future of those projects.

The MTA should have enough money to keep the trains and the buses rolling. But when it comes to modernizing and upgrading system, and keeping up with repairs and maintenance, there are those who have their doubts.

"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 MTA board member Samuel Chu. "And we're really going to have to, you know, look at this with scrutiny to make sure we're making the right decisions."

Congestion pricing was intended to ease traffic congestion in Manhattan while raising billions of dollars for the regional transportation system. But it will do none of that. Not now-and maybe never, after Hochul slammed on the brakes earlier this month.

There were big plans for the money like new railcars and high-tech rail control systems to run more of them more often, gleaming electric buses, and the Second Avenue Subway? It was going to be expanded north into Harlem, and more stations were going to be accessible to the disabled.

Board members, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of congestion pricing, are now increasingly pessimistic. David Jones is one of them.

"To see it all delayed is very depressing. Look, you know, I don't think this was very well done by any means," Jones said. "And I think it's going to have to be repaired ultimately by the governor and the legislature."

Chu said they are concerned that the system could slide backwards.

"That's what we're trying to avoid, of course, it's a concern," Chu said. "And that's our job-to make sure that that doesn't happen. Given what given the resources we have."

Governor Kathy Hochul spoke on her goal to make sure the work gets done, one way or another.

"There are other funding sources, I want to do the 2nd Avenue subway," Hochul said. "I want all the improvements that have been promised to New Yorkers based on the bonding off this $1 billion. But, we are capable of this. I support the MTA, I bailed out the MTA last year, no one can question my commitment to this lifeline."

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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