Congestion Pricing continues to be politically sensitive despite “MTA Announcing Major Progress On Congestion Pricing.” Final details of who will pay has yet to be determined by the MTA Traffic Mobility Review Board.
One year after becoming Governor, Hochul announced appointments to fill her five seats. This was made public at the July 27th MTA Board meeting. They include Carl Weisbrod, a former city planning and economic development chief who will serve as Chairman of the MTA TMRB. He currently is employed with the consultant firm HR&A Advisors.
The other four appointees on the board are the former Real Estate Board of New York President John Banks, a past President of the New York Real Estate Board; Scott Rechler, Regional Plan Association chief and the head of developer RXR Realty; MTA Board Member Elizabeth Velez. She was a past chairperson of the New York Building Congress; and Kathryn Wylde, who heads the Partnership for New York City. This organization represents the city’s business community. No union, commuter or environmental advocacy group leaders were appointed.
Elected officials on all levels of government will lobby for discounts or exemptions for police officers, fire fighters, teachers, low income, NYC outer borough residency, seniors, physically disabled. small commercial delivery businesses, users of electric vehicles, residents living below 60th Street in Manhattan or other special niches. These discounts or exemptions will be adopted to placate their constituents when running for reelection in 2023 or 2024. More discounts translates to less revenues. Nobody can predict if anywhere near $1 billion in annual toll revenues will actually appear..
The MTA has scheduled virtual public hearings in August. For months, all of the MTA Board and Committee Meetings held at MTA HQ, in Manhattan have been in person and virtual. Why not the same for these public hearings?
How will Governor Kathy Hochul assist the MTA in making up for billions in previously anticipated congestion price tolling that may not appear until 2024 along with previously scheduled fare increase revenues?. Ditto for additional costs due to inflation, lost revenues due to ongoing fare evasion and upcoming union contracts? Labor will want salary increases that at a minimum keep pace with growing inflation. MTA previously budgeted only 2% per year for the next round of labor contracts.