Manhattan Borough President
Hearing on Congestion Pricing
March 21, 2019
Testimony of the New York League of Conservation Voters
Thank you Borough President Brewer for holding this important hearing on congestion pricing. Public transportation in New York City is becoming less reliable due to constant failures in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) decades-old infrastructure. This crisis isn’t just about an underfunded system that frustrates New Yorkers who are trying to get to work, school, medical appointments, and social engagements. The sad state of the MTA actively encourages commuters to use private cars, which clog the streets and increase air pollution. More than 2 million New Yorkers live or work within 500 feet of a congested roadway and face a higher risk of illness or disease including asthma.
With the potential to raise over $1 billion every year, congestion pricing can help repair and modernize the subways, electrify the city’s bus fleet, and improve commuter rail, providing all New Yorkers with a reliable public transit system. While other policies including dedicated bus and bike lanes, camera enforcement, parking placard reform, and shared streets are necessary to make New York a more livable city, congestion pricing is the only policy tool that would simultaneously address traffic, air quality and public health, public transportation, and climate change.
The majority of New Yorkers believe global climate change is a serious problem and support taking action to solve it. If we are serious about tackling climate change, we must address the transportation sector – the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York.
Other large global cities including London, Singapore and Stockholm have implemented congestion pricing to great success, including experiencing significant reductions in traffic and pollution. In Stockholm, for example, after enacting congestion pricing, researchers found a 15% drop in particulate matter emissions and the number of children going to the hospital because of asthma attacks went down by nearly 50%.
Congestion pricing in New York could decrease traffic congestion by 13% and prevent 2.1 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year – equivalent to emissions from 740,000 passenger vehicles or 600,000 homes.
For all of these reasons, the New York League of Conservation Voters supports congestion pricing and urges the Governor and State Legislature to include it in this year’s final adopted budget.