Despite Hochul’s illegal interference the tolls are coming


June 30 is here and but for one person’s political panic (and we don’t mean Joe Biden’s debate meltdown), congestion pricing to charge vehicles driving south of 60th St. a small fee would be starting today. The tolling was to begin at midnight (and as strong supporters, we were planning to be there to watch), with cars paying the 75% reduced overnight rate of $3.75 and motorcycles assessed at $1.75. Small trucks would be charged $6 and big rigs $9.

At 9 this morning, the peak prices of $15 for cars, $7.50 for motorcycles and $24 and $36 for trucks would kick in. Not a lot of money, but a whole lot of vehicles and the fees would add up to $3 million for a day. Every day. That annual $1 billion of certain income was to be leveraged via the bond market to create $15 billion for improving transit. But the MTA is not collecting that $3 million today nor will it be collecting it tomorrow, a weekday when the peak pricing runs from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m.

The political panicker, Gov. Hochul, says all will be fine as the money fails to come in and the 17% reduction in exhaust-spewing, noise-making, crash-causing and gridlock-snarling traffic does not happen. She is wrong, as she is wrong about everything that she has done since D Day-1, June 5, when she torpedoed a carefully thought out program that has been underway for years because some diner patrons griped.

Our headline today, “Congestion pricing countdown” first appeared on May 7, 2023, when we started marking off the months, weeks and days to what was supposed to happen today with the commencing of the tolling program. We ran 15 editorials with this same headline until May 30, a month ago, when everyone believed June 30 to be the big day.

Since Hochul threw her illegal stink bomb into the gears, we have continued to publish editorial after editorial under the “Congestion pricing countdown” banner fighting against her lawless inference; this is the eighth since her betrayal of her oath and her betrayal of New York.

It is not up to one person, even a governor, to change laws. Congestion pricing is the law of New York State and the MTA fulfilled its legal duty to implement the required tolling program. Hochul, in ordering the state Department of Transportation, be it Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez or state Chief Engineer Stephanie Winkelhake, to not sign a final certification for the Federal Highway Administration, is acting unlawfully. The lawsuits are coming and they will prevail.

The last person who single handedly tried to stop congestion pricing was Shelly Silver, then, in 2008, the dictatorial speaker of the state Assembly, and later a convicted felon who deservedly died in federal prison (a just ending shared by Al Capone and John Gotti).

Silver was on the wrong side of history in opposing the tolls for Midtown and Downtown to curb traffic and raise funds for transit and Hochul has now joined that retrograde position. She will be overruled.

Despite the carping critics, this is not “a money grab.” It is a fee for using a limited public resource: the roads. The roads aren’t free, the bridges aren’t free, the subways and the buses aren’t free. Someone has to pay for them.

Our congestion pricing countdown was due to end today. Instead, thanks to Hochul, it will continue until the tolling starts. Hopefully soon.

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