Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Driving into downtown Manhattan in the near future could cost more than $20 for cars, and four times that for trucks. And that’s after factoring in gas.
With congestion pricing — a plan intended to reduce vehicle dependence on the crowded streets of New York City — ready to become a reality, one of the agencies expected to directly benefit — the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — has shared what it thinks vehicles should pay for the privilege of driving instead of riding.
That’s $23 for cars and $82 for trucks, with such tolls also applying to deliveries, taxis and ride-hail vehicles like Uber and Lyft.
There are many not too happy about the plan, especially Nassau County Republican legislators Steve Rhoads and John Ferretti, who joined Oyster Bay tax receiver Jeffrey Pravato in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola to express that displeasure.
It’s “simply another tax on hardworking residents of suburbia,” said Rhoads, who represents Wantagh, Seaford, Bellmore, Merrick and Freeport. “Eighty-five percent of residents that commute on a daily basis into New York City already commute using mass transit, This is simply another way to control your behavior, using the power to tax and take another billion dollars away from the residents of suburbia into the pocket to cover the fiscal mismanagement of the MTA.”
John Ferretti, whose district represents parts of East Meadow, Wantagh and Seaford, said the state measure’s goal of fighting traffic congestion is a good one, but that Albany is taking the wrong path. People are not taking the Long Island Rail Road because of rising ticket costs, he said, and blamed bail reform as a reason many don’t feel safe taking public transit.
“Who wants to take the Long Island Rail Road when you might get pushed in front of the train you’re trying to get on?” Ferretti asked.
But not everyone agrees with the lawmakers. State Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat who faces Rhoads for a newly drawn senate seat in November, argued Rhoads and Perretti grossly misunderstand how things work in Albany.
“No one voted solely on the question of congestion pricing,” Brooks said. “We voted on the budget as a whole. Your vote is either ‘yes’ for everything, or ‘no’ for everything.”
If the legislators want to attack him over congestion pricing, Brooks added, then they also owe him credit for millions of dollars in state aid and infrastructure repair, since those were also part of the state budget he voted for in 2019.
Brooks dismissed Rhoads’ congestion price rhetoric as simply campaign rhetoric.
“If Steve wants to talk about raising taxes on residents, let’s talk about the county housing assessments,” he said. “Nassau’s housing assessment has been frozen for 13 years because of the county legislature.”
But Rhoads feels state officials are doing everything they can to try and keep opposition down, even holding public hearings on the MTA’s toll proposal in August, when many are on vacation.
“It’s a further idea of what their actual thoughts on transparency are in this process,” he said.
As far as state lawmakers like John Brooks?
“They’re the ones that voted for this,” Rhoads said. “And they are the ones that still have the power to be able to stop it.”