Mid Hudson Politicos Blast MTA’s Congestion Pricing Plan

Mid Hudson Politicos Blast MTA’s Congestion Pricing Plan
New York State Assemblyman Mike Lawler (at podium) is joined by Rockland County Executive Ed Day (left), MTA Board Member Frank Borelli (second-from-left), and State Senate Candidate Bill Weber (right) at a press conference at the Nanuet Train Station.

NANUET—A group of Rockland County politicians, including County Executive Ed Day, slammed the controversial Congestion Pricing Plan released by the MTA and other transit agencies yesterday.

At a press conference staged at the Nanuet train station on Wednesday, Day, State Assemblyman Michael Lawler, MTA Board Member Frank Borelli and 38th State Senate District Candidate Bill Weber, criticized the MTA and New York State over the Congestion Pricing Plan. They cited the MTA for poor service in Rockland County and charged that Rockland commuters could be paying an additional $9 to $23 to drive into the Central Business District of Manhattan.

“Connecticut residents get better service than New York State’s Rockland and Orange residents,” said Rockland County Executive Day. “Despite everything we contribute we are never on the receiving end of these capital program investments and that needs to change now.”

They charged that many Rockland County residents are forced to drive into Manhattan due to the scarcity of transit options and noted that the MTA offers Rockland County commuters sub-par, and often unreliable, rail service operated by NJ Transit via contract with Metro-North.

They also charged that Rockland County is the only county in the MTA region that has a value gap and a recent study placed that gap at about $40 million each year and growing. The last service increase made on the Pascack Valley Line was in 2007 and since then Rockland has only seen service cuts and higher fares, they complained.

“Two years ago, I introduced legislation in the State Legislature, Bill A.7750, to repeal congestion pricing because it is a direct tax on suburban communities and because Rockland County and West of Hudson rail service has rapidly declined in recent years,” said Assemblyman Lawler. “I’m proud to work with Ed, Frank, and all those who are opposed to this absurd congestion pricing plan which will add yet another cost on our already-overburdened taxpayers here in Rockland.”

County Executive Day also complained that the MTA established its Traffic Mobility Review Board without any representation of MTA’s West of Hudson service region.

“Even more abhorrent, the public hearings on the matter are being held during the last week of August, making it clear the MTA is trying to push this plan through at a time when most people may not be paying attention or able to attend,” Day added. “Hear this—Rockland is paying attention.”

MTA Board Member Borelli also complained about the lack of Rockland County representation on the Traffic Mobility Board. “I vehemently opposed it and will continue to do so unless Rockland County residents receive some benefit, including a one-seat ride into New York City, from this congestion pricing scheme. The fact is that Rockland County has been shortchanged hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of the past decade, and this only accelerates that gap between taxes collected and services received.”

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus also criticized the MTA Congestion Plan. In a prepared statement to Real Estate In-Depth, Neuhaus stated, “Congestion pricing is discriminatory to residents of West of Hudson counties in New York, who do not have one seat access to Manhattan. The MTA needs to make it more affordable and reliable for Orange County residents to take a train, which is their actual business, into New York City, not tax our cars.”

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