Elected officials in New York have reached an agreement on a new plan to “transform” travel in the state.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have introduced a 10-point proposal to transform the MTA and create “dedicated and sustained funding streams for the agency.” The plan includes “congestion” tolling and a reorganization of the MTA.
The proposal would see tolls vary based on the time of day, with the prices being set next year and introduced in 2021. According to reports, the lawmakers have suggested that some of the resulting tax revenue from potentially legalizing marijuana would help offset some of the costs of the improvements.
The plan calls for a reorganization and consolidation plan involving the NYCTA, LIRR, Metro-North, MTA Capital Construction, MTA Bus, and SI Railway, which all currently operate separately. That plan is expected to be completed by June.
Tolling would also be variable to provide discounts for off-peak hour travel. The funds from those tolls would be placed in a 'lockbox' to provide a funding source necessary to ensure the capital needs of the MTA can be met, with priority given to the subway system, new signaling, new subway cars, track and car repair, accessibility, buses and bus system improvements and further investments in expanding transit availability to areas in the outer boroughs that have limited mass transit options, according to Cuomo.
In an interview this week on WNYC, Cuomo called congestion pricing "an idea whose time has come" and said the plan would reduce the need for a hefty fare increase as high as 30 percent.
“Cost-containment actions and improved management” will aim to control costs, according to the plan. “The MTA should be able to operate with mass transit fare increases limited to inflationary increases of 2 percent per year.”
According to the two Democrats, “New York State officials plan to work with the MTA, city and district attorneys to combat fare evasion. The stated goal is not to criminalize fare evasion, but rather prevent it and increase enforcement.”
“Working New Yorkers are struggling to get around our city — we can't let another year pass without action that makes their lives easier,” de Blasio said. “It’s now clear that there's no way to address it without congestion pricing and other dedicated revenue streams. The time to act is now.”
MTA acting Chair Fernando Ferrer added, “I strongly endorse this proposal from Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio that addresses the fundamental challenges the MTA faces – a need for organization-wide reform, cost-cutting, additional revenues, and increased efficiency. This proposal is a holistic cure for much of what ails the MTA, and I hope to see it enacted swiftly for the benefit of our 8.5 million daily customers.
"It builds on work we are already doing to improve service through aggressive action like the Subway Action Plan; reduce costs through innovative procurement and development models like those used on the LIRR Third Track and Double Track projects; and reduce spending through a mandate to all operating agencies. Best of all, if the legislature adopts this plan, riders will be spared a fare increase of 30 percent to fund necessary capital costs. I urge the legislature to act and support Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio in their effort to improve the subways and entire MTA for the people of New York.”
Full details of the 10-point plan from Cuomo and de Blasio can be found here .
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