With Mayor Bill de Blasio finally backing congestion pricing, and Governor Cuomo putting his full weight behind the proposal, the MTA may finally get the financing it needs to fix its crumbling infrastructure.
If passed by the state government, congestion pricing, along with a new internet sales tax and a legal marijuana excise tax, would generate billions of dollars annually.
The dedicated stream of funding would be used to install modern signals, add new subway cars, replace old tracks and increase accessibility. It would also be used to make the bus system more reliable and invest in expanding transportation options in transit deserts.
But before any of this happens, the MTA needs to prove that it’s serious about reform and safety.
Right now, the MTA is effectively run by Cuomo. When the governor wants to halt the L train shutdown, the MTA listens. When he wants to expedite the construction of the Second Avenue subway line, they comply.
But Cuomo loves to sidestep responsibility for its failures, and that can’t happen anymore. The MTA needs to be reformed to ensure accountability from New York’s political class.
If the governor doesn’t want to held the agency accountable, then give control of the subways and buses to the mayor, like City Council Speaker Corey Johnson has proposed. It’s a bold idea that deserves strong consideration.
Secondly, the MTA needs to ensure not just train and bus riders, but pedestrians and motorists underneath its elevated structures are safe.
After two dangerous incidents underneath the 7 train trestles in Woodside over the last few weeks, the MTA needs to reassess its practices and safety measures.
While the incidents are further proof that congestion pricing is needed to fund these improvements, the MTA has a long way to go to prove that it deserves the funding.