by Assemblywoman Nikki Lucas 60th AD
Undoubtedly, congestion has a negative impact on our environment, and we all must do as much as we can to reduce our carbon emissions as quickly as possible. Yet, I do not believe congestion pricing is the best solution to address climate change in our city. Congestion pricing is a tax that will negatively impact some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Many New Yorkers use their vehicles during work hours to provide for their families and charging them to use their vehicles, during prime hours, will greatly reduce how much they bring home. I believe we can find a more innovative way to meet our green goals, one that will not hurt New Yorkers, but a solution that will create a better world for our community members and their children.
One of the reasons congestion taxes have been brought to the forefront of the conversation are its potential benefits for the MTA system. MTA officials have claimed that the money the city earns with this tax will be used to maintain the transit infrastructure and keep fares at their current rate. If this is true, MTA officials must give New Yorkers a 100% guarantee, in writing, stating that MTA fares will not increase over the next 10 years.
Secondly, this is 2022 and I believe we can come up with a smarter way to solve our environmental issues. How about providing incentives and encouraging people and companies to go green with electric cars? Let’s add charging stations in the city. I’m sure environmental advocates have ideas. If congestion pricing is the most innovative idea that we can come up with then we are in serious trouble as a city.
Congestion pricing will cause prices for groceries and other items to increase. As we know to be a fact, whenever costs increase for truckers and delivery companies, the costs are passed down to us. So, the larger businesses aren’t impacted, but the people will pay the price. It’s already tough for hardworking New Yorkers to live in the city. Rents are high, food prices continue to increase, parking tickets are out of control and now we want to add congestion pricing. New Yorkers can’t catch a break!
It’s a dissolution to believe that congestion pricing is going to increase MTA ridership to numbers that will make a difference. There are people who will not ride the train or bus if it continues to remain unsafe. The city needs to take serious steps to make New Yorkers and tourists feel safe when traveling by mass transit.
Let’s sum up the reasons why I think congestion pricing is bad for hardworking New Yorkers, and New York City overall.
- Congestion pricing will tax people who want to travel to parts of the city
- Costs for basic goods will increase for hardworking New Yorkers in every part of the city
- Nothing innovative is being done to solve environmental issues
- The MTA is not guaranteeing that there will be no increases in transit fares
- There are “For Lease” signs in retail windows throughout New York City, and these signs will increase as we have less people coming into the city, which means businesses will suffer.
- Nothing is being included in this plan to guarantee a safer transit system nor to guarantee a decrease in congestion. In fact, it’s money grab for the MTA. Statistically, more people bought cars during the pandemic than ever before.
- The economy will continue to suffer under congestion pricing
I am hoping that the city and environmental advocates can work together to be more creative. Let’s get serious about going green and about helping hardworking New Yorkers to keep their cost of living down.