NYC comptroller pushes back against Gov. Hochul's congestion pricing delay

A coalition of transit advocates, legal experts and potential plaintiffs say they’re prepared to fight for congestion pricing in the city if need be.

Edric Robinson

Jun 12, 2024, 10:32 PM

Updated 41 days ago


New York City Comptroller Brad Lander is pushing back against Gov. Kathy Hochul's delay on the congestion pricing plan. He announced that a team of legal experts and advocates are considering multiple lawsuits to resume it.
“If congestion pricing is not implemented by June 30 as required by law, this coalition will be ready right away to take these cases to court,” Lander stated.
A coalition of transit advocates, legal experts and potential plaintiffs say they’re prepared to fight for congestion pricing in the city if need be.
“Gov. Hochul’s 11th-hour pause to the city’s congestion pricing plan, which let’s be clear is likely tantamount to a cancellation of the plan if it’s not reversed, leaves a $15 billion hole in the MTA Capital Plan,” Lander added.
The governor announced the "indefinite pause" just three weeks before the plan was to be implemented. Advocates argue that this delay hinders essential improvements, such as subway station accessibility, electric buses and crucial transit expansions that would be paid for with money from collected tolls.
“We believe that Gov. Hochul has violated several state laws, and we’re preparing lawsuits to ask the courts to reverse her decision. In 2019, the state Legislature passed a law saying that the MTA shall implement congestion pricing notwithstanding any other provision of law,” said Michael Gerrard, a professor at Columbia Law School.
Additionally, Gerrard says the pause violates the New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the state's Bill of Rights guaranteeing clean air and water, and may also breach the Americans with Disabilities Act. Advocates for persons with disabilities say they've been put on the back burner long enough.
“Disability advocates supported congestion pricing because we were told that it would pay for all accessibility, and accessibility doesn’t just mean elevators. We have people falling into the tracks every day, we need tactile domes, we need automation,” said Dr. Sharon McLennon Wier, executive director of the Center for the Independence of the Disabled.
News 12 New York reached out to the governor for comment, and a spokesperson said in part, “Like the majority of New Yorkers, Governor Hochul believes this is not the right time to implement congestion pricing. We can't comment on pending or hypothetical litigation.”
“Contrary to recent suggestions, let me be clear, there is no plan that replaces the MTA’s funding that addresses the MTA's looming fiscal trouble and the climate crisis of the 21st century,” Lander asserted.
The MTA has a board meeting scheduled for June 26. This coalition says they’re waiting to see how agencies respond and promise there will be no choice but to sue if congestion pricing isn’t implemented by the end of the month.

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