Cuomo And De Blasio Unveil Transit Fix; Mystery Toll Increases, Congestion Pricing And Marijuana Tax

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a framework to fix New York City’s “death spiraling” subway system that needs some $40 billion in improvements.

The new plan will feature congestion pricing, higher tolls with increases locked in at no more than 2% per year, and a promise that the city and state will work together to combat people who evade fares.

The city will also install electronic toll collection devices around the perimeter of the Central Business District (CBD), defined as the streets south of 61st St. in Manhattan.

Here is the framework to fix the MTA that @NYGovCuomo and @NYCMayor just announced:

#2 Congestion pricing
#3 No more than 2% fare increases
#4 Consolidating power for electeds
#8 All design-build for construction
#10 Cuomo and de Blasio will actually work together pic.twitter.com/1a2rNLPAMy

— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) February 26, 2019

The new toll prices will not be disclosed until “the electronic infrastructure is in place and a Capital Plan is finalized but will in no event be set later than December 2020.”

Also included in the framework; all MTA Board appointments will be modified so that their terms end with the tenure of the appointing elected official

The governor and mayor are seeking to centralize six existing MTA entities by June; NYCTA, LIRR, Metro-North, MTA Capital Construction, MTA Bus and SI Railway.

To help pay for the improvements, the Cuomo / de Blasio plan will allocate a portion of taxes collected from recreational marijuana – assuming it passes, along with internet sales taxes.

Buried in this Cuomo/de Blasio MTA plan:

They’ve agreed to put part of tax revenues from recreational marijuana (assuming it passes) toward the MTA. (Internet sales tax, too.) pic.twitter.com/YG137fqSV2

— Jon Campbell (@JonCampbellGAN) February 26, 2019

The New York Times reported in 2017 that while ridership had increased 77% since 1991, maintenance spending dipped while on-time performance steadily declined.

And while overall ridership has gone up since 1991, as we reported on Sunday, the number of people using public transit has more recently begun to fall.

According to The Daily News, weekday subway ridership was about 5.44 million in 2018, which was about 143,000 fewer riders per day than 2017. This marked a decline of 2.6%. Bus ridership was about 1.81 million people on weekdays riding local and express buses – 113,000 fewer riders and 5.9% lower than 2017.

The three-year decline between 2015 and 2018 marks the largest for any three-year period since 1975, while bus ridership experienced a 15% drop between 2012 and 2018.

At this rate, a cannabis excise tax may be their only hope!