Statement from Tom Wright, President and CEO, Regional Plan Association:
This is a historic day in New York. After more than two decades of advocating for congestion pricing, we are thrilled to see it included in the New York State budget agreement. The benefits are clear: congestion pricing will reduce traffic on our crowded streets while raising revenue for our beleaguered subways and buses and improving the quality of life and health for all New Yorkers. New York City should be proud to be leading the nation in policies that fund public transit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
RPA has been fighting for congestion pricing since the release of the Third Regional Plan in 1996 and today’s announcement is a win for the entire metropolitan region. We thank Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and state lawmakers for their leadership and all of the advocates who fought incredibly hard to make this happen. We look forward to working with them and the MTA to develop and implement the system.
We were also pleased to see significant focus on reforming the MTA in the budget agreement. The reforms include an independent audit, improved transparency in performance reporting and the Capital Program Review Board, and the requirement of Design Build for projects over $25 million. Many of these are changes that RPA has championed over the past two years. These reforms should help the MTA leadership make improvements in the system and provide the public and elected officials more faith that the MTA is spending money wisely, efficiently and with the public’s best interest in mind.