Cleaning up after congestion pricing is messy — but worth it

2 min read

Whaddya know: Gov. Hochul found a billion dollars for the MTA without having to raise taxes or impose congestion pricing.

You never know what’s lying in the seat cushions in the leather couches adorning the state capitol’s War Room, unless you’re motivated to look.

Yes, it’s chaos in Albany as the Legislature mulls Hochul’s push to issue the MTA a 15-year, $15 billion IOU after she indefinitely postponed the congestion fees.

And bravo to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for nixing the gov’s idea of boosting the metro-area “mobility tax” (on employment!) to cover the gap.

But the fact remains that the “congestion toll” was a ridiculous kludge that Hochul was right to kill.

And it’s only to be expected that Albany’s first efforts to replace the MTA’s revenues would also be other kludges.

But the MTA’s actual needs don’t include a fleet of electric buses or elaborate “accessibility” subway-station refits, white elephants that would be funded by the congestion fees.

And even a simple one-year influx of $1 billion from the state’s reserves, which the Legislature can readily pass, can support truly vital investment in modern signal systems while Albany figures out longer-term solutions.

Quit the magical-thinking demands of the agency, and you don’t need magical-thinking “solutions” like the tolling — which was then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s typically convoluted answer for his elaborate and expensive visions for the MTA.

And if you really want to put the agency on sounder financial ground, face the unpleasant facts that leave it in a fiscal bog.

That is, don’t just dump ever-more cash into the swamp: Drill down, for example, on why the MTA blew a record $1.37 billion on overtime last year.

The Albany culture favors slamming the public to pay for the insiders’ grand schemes and coddling of special interests; now that Hochul’s stood up for the public on congestion pricing, she and her partners in the Legislature are going to have to break with the rest of that scheme.

Of course it’ll be messy, but it’s worth it.

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