Tomorrow, September 9, is primary election day in New York. Tri-State does not endorse candidates, but we do report on their views and actions when it comes to mass transit, funding public transit, and other transportation issues. One of the most important transportation issues in New York over the past few years was congestion pricing, a progressive policy that would have benefited millions of commuters who ride MTA buses, subways and rail lines. It could have helped prevent fare hikes which disproportionately burden lower income residents, and would have reduced vehicle idling and gridlock that worsens air quality.
The State Assembly did not call a floor vote on pricing, perhaps to allow individual legislators to avoid going on record about a controversial issue (neither did the State Senate, though it reportedly would have had the Assembly done so). However, several State Assemblymembers facing primary challengers publicly supported or opposed congestion pricing:
Adriano Espaillat (Manhattan, District 72) and Carl Heastie (Bronx, District 83) publicly supported congestion pricing in their districts, which are predominantly composed of minority and low-income residents. They shelved the “regressive” argument in favor of a scheme to generate revenue to improve mass transit that the overwhelming majority of their constituents rely upon. Miguel Martinez, who is challenging Espaillat, also voted in favor of congestion pricing as a City Councilperson. MTR was unable to determine the stance of Sherman Browne, Heastie’s challenger.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (Manhattan, District 64) is most synonymous with congestion pricing’s death, as he is ultimately responsible for not calling the legislation to a vote on the Assembly floor. Challengers Paul Newell and Luke Henry both support congestion pricing.