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De Blasio Says He Hasn’t Seen a ‘Fair’ Congestion-Pricing Plan From Cuomo

De Blasio Says He Hasn’t Seen a ‘Fair’ Congestion-Pricing Plan From Cuomo

  • Cuomo created a state task force to study congestion pricing
  • The mayor wants a ‘millionaires tax’ to finance mass transit

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, left, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, attend an event on Roosevelt Island in New York City on Sept. 13.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his own plan to ease congestion as he took a swipe at Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to charge motorists a fee to enter Manhattan.

De Blasio, a Democrat who faces re-election in November, said he hasn’t seen an acceptable congestion-pricing plan since Cuomo put together a state task force a month ago to study the issue.

“I have not seen a plan that’s fair,” de Blasio, 56, said Sunday as he discussed a plan to restrict traffic, reduce double-parking and limit truck delivery hours on busy streets throughout the city.

The state’s two highest-ranking elected Democrats have feuded over a range of issues, most recently how to finance the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority that controls the city’s subway and bus lines. Cuomo has proposed a rush hour Manhattan-entry fee, while de Blasio advocates increased taxes on city residents earning more than $500,000 a year.

Cuomo, 59, who faces re-election next year and may run for president in 2020, could lose votes in the city’s two most populous boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, where motorists would be most affected by congestion pricing. The proposal wasn’t popular with lawmakers in those boroughs a decade ago when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg advocated it as a way to raise about $500 million for mass transit. The former mayor is founder and majority shareholder of Bloomberg News’ parent, Bloomberg LP.

Aging Equipment

Since then, the MTA’s fiscal problems have worsened, with deferred maintenance and aging equipment causing power problems, track fires and derailments. Delays have more than doubled in the past five years. The system’s 665 miles of track serves about 5.7 million riders a day.

At the same time, the emergence of electronically hailed vehicles for hire and construction in Manhattan’s midtown have slowed traffic throughout one of the world’s most densely populated cities.

De Blasio, in his Sunday remarks, described congestion pricing as a “regressive tax.”

“Rich people will pay it without even knowing and poor people and working-class people will really take a hit,” he said. “And it doesn’t make any accommodation for people who need to go to the hospital, including folks of limited means.”

MTA spokeswoman John McCarthy said the mayor’s plan to ease congestion is “to enforce the‎ law, which begs the question: what has been City Hall’s policy for the last four years?”

“We’re glad he seems to finally recognize the severe problems caused by congestion and we’d urge him to help address this issue with a comprehensive solution," McCarthy said.

In the event Cuomo proposes a new plan, de Blasio said he would consider it. The millionaires tax, which was backed by 64 percent of city voters in an Oct. 6 Quinnipiac University poll, “would tax New York City residents only -- millionaires and billionaires --to fund the MTA and it’s a cleaner solution,” de Blasio said.

Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever wasn’t immediately available for comment.