Updated: Jan. 12, 2023, 3:22 p.m. | Published: Jan. 12, 2023, 2:52 p.m.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Rollout of New York City’s congestion pricing plan has long been delayed, and on Thursday, City Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore) said it was with good reason as he took his latest swipe at a similar international program.
Borelli, who leads his party in the City Council, fired a shot across the pond at London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and his city’s congestion pricing program.
“This is the definition of bold leadership. Clearly, the jury is in on congestion pricing schemes in London: they have been a complete disaster,” Borelli said. “But that has not stopped Mayor Khan from realizing his dream of charging each and every British driver for each and every mile they drive. I laud him for his incredible persistencein the face of abject failure. I just hope we can replicate some of that gridlock mojo when our governor imposes the same congestion pricing program on New Yorkers.”
Borelli pointed to a recent “Global Traffic Scorecard” for 2022 from data analytics company INRIX, which focuses on issues around traffic, as cause for his latest critique of one of the few congestion pricing plans on the planet.
INRIX’s scorecard, which analyzed four years of traffic data, found London to have the highest delay time related to traffic with the average driver losing 156 hours waiting in congestion.
The Staten Island Councilman has been one of the city’s loudest opponents of the local plan, officially known as the Central Business District Tolling Program, that would toll drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street.
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson, whose agency oversees the local plan, said, the agency is waiting on the federal government to decide whether the plan can proceed based on an environmental assessment in August that looked at the plan’s impact on the city.
The environmental assessment laid out seven different tolling scenarios that could see a daily charge as high as $23 for motorists entering the congestion pricing district.
While Borelli lamented London’s congestion pricing program, the MTA has pointed to the United Kingdom’s capital city as an example of the success of congestion pricing. Data the MTA cited shows a 25% drop in congestion in central London, a 30% increase in average speeds, and a 20% drop in carbon dioxide pollution.
Despite that, a host of elected officials in the city’s metro area have come out in opposition to the congestion pricing plan.
Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has asked President Biden’s administration to conduct another environmental assessment of the project; Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/South Brooklyn) has partnered across the aisle with Rep. Josh Gotteheimer (D-N.J.) to try to get a federal audit of the MTA; and Borelli has joined in a resolution with seven other members of the Council, including Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks (D-North Shore) and Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island), to call for a statewide ballot initiative that would allow voters to decide whether the state implements congestion pricing.
“We should ask our constituents whether they want to have this tax that once implemented will never go away,” Borelli said when he introduced the resolution.