Ryan Hosts Public Hearing On MTA Congestion Plan

CORNWALL-ON-HUDSON – Last week, Congressman Pat Ryan, Cornwall-on-Hudson Mayor James A. Gagliano, and Cornwall Town Supervisor Josh Wojehowski hosted local community leaders, members of both the FDNY and NYPD, and representatives of numerous local unions for a public hearing on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)’s congestion pricing plan. At the hearing, Congressman Ryan slammed the MTA as out of touch for disproportionately burdening Hudson Valley commuters with its proposed massive $15 per day congestion pricing toll and for failing to provide reliable alternative public transportation options to the Hudson Valley. Congressman Ryan encouraged Hudson Valley commuters who will be impacted by the congestion pricing plan to submit their comments to the MTA’s public comment portal here.

“Today, the MTA’s representative heard from firefighters, police officers, union members, and teachers all saying the same thing: the congestion pricing plan is completely detached from reality,” said Congressman Pat Ryan. “The MTA should commit to adding one-seat service in Orange, improving service in Dutchess, and adding exemptions for public servants who live in the Hudson Valley but protect New York City. If you want to make this work, come to the damn table, and let’s talk about actual solutions. But stop pretending this ‘plan’ makes any sense for Hudson Valley families who already don’t get the service they pay for.”

“I’ve been a law enforcement officer in New York City for 24 years. Sometimes I take the train, but due to the different tours we have to work and the fact that the trains do not run 24/7, I am for the most part forced to drive into the city,” said Luis, a law enforcement officer in New York City and Orange County resident. “That’s 24 years of paying for gas, the George Washington Bridge toll and the vehicle wear and tear. I love the city, but not only I cannot afford to live in the city but I cannot even visit the city and enjoy all its amenities. Now on top of that, I’d have to pay the congestion pricing toll. And I’m not alone in this. It’s a big concern for me and almost all of my colleagues. We are just trying to do our best to serve the people of the city of New York and provide for our own families.”

“As an Orange County resident, I already shell out for the transit tax to subsidize the MTA, which, as a firefighter who works irregular hours, I can barely use for commuting,” said Jim McCarthy, a firefighter in New York City and Orange County resident. “If I work late battling to keep people safe, I’d be out of luck getting home afterwards with how bad the transit service is. If congestion pricing goes into effect, it would add an additional financial burden without offering an adequate alternative for travel. Middle class working people are not getting an exemption and we don’t earn enough to absorb the additional costs into our family budgets. Even if working people are able to take the limited and restrictive public transportation options currently available, the impact on their commute to work would be devastating – longer hours, less time with their family, less money in their pockets.”

“I often travel to New York City with my church group to help feed and clothe the homeless,” said Wingdale resident Kevin Kitowski. “Now we’ll have to pay $15 per vehicle just to help people in need. That’s money we could be using to help our fellow New Yorkers. That hurts.”

“I join Congressman Pat Ryan and other local elected officials in decrying this massive, unnecessary, and unfair additional $15.00 per day toll that will adversely impact our residents,” said Cornwall-on-Hudson Mayor James A. Gagliano. “It remains supremely disappointing that the MTA refuses to hold in-person hearings within New York City bedroom communities like Cornwall-on-Hudson. Our residents deserve better. We thank Congressman Ryan for recognizing this as a bipartisan issue and fiercely opposing an effort that will undoubtedly have a deleterious effect on our constituents and serve as a Pyrrhic victory for the MTA.”

“I’m not against many of the environmental and budgetary goals of congestion pricing, but I am tired of being taxed and charged for a transit system that fails to meet the needs of commuters in Orange County and the Town of Cornwall,” said Cornwall Town Supervisor Josh Wojehowski. “I strongly urge the MTA to either implement offsets and credits for commuters living in Hudson Valley transit deserts or come to the table with plans to upgrade service to our region.”

“I recently became a plaintiff in a lawsuit to strike down the congestion pricing scheme, because $30 for the ‘privilege’ of driving into Manhattan is outright theft, particularly given the fact Orange County residents have nearly non-existent train service,” said State Senator James Skoufis, 42nd District. “I thank my partners in government for pushing back against this ill-conceived proposal.”

“Without a one-seat train ride to NYC, congestion pricing is a direct restriction on our commuters’ rights to travel,” said Assemblymember Christopher Eachus (D-New Windsor). “This amounts to triple taxing our commuters just for entering the city; through bridge tolls, the disastrous MTA payroll tax, and now this misguided congestion pricing scheme. I thank Congressman Ryan for hosting this hearing today so that the residents of Orange County can be heard. Our message is loud and clear: we will not stop fighting this unjust tax burden until the Hudson Valley gets its fair share.”

The MTA’s proposed plan would implement a $15 toll on standard automobiles and up to a $36 toll for trucks to enter the Manhattan Central Business District. The Central Business District is defined as Manhattan below 60th Street. The new congestion pricing fees would be in addition to current fees for entry to the city via the Lincoln and Holland tunnel from New Jersey, and the Queens-Midtown and High L. Carey tunnels from Queens and Brooklyn. Additionally, Orange and Dutchess County residents already pay an MTA tax, on top of county and state taxes.

The MTA has not yet made available discounts for commuting city employees, such as public safety officers, public transport workers, or farmers delivering agricultural products to the city.

The MTA introduced its congestion pricing plan to reduce traffic congestion in Manhattan and promote alternative transportation methods. However, public transit options from the Hudson Valley to Manhattan are still very limited, and there is no MTA plan to use these additional revenues to bolster Hudson Valley service. The congestion pricing would, as a result, place a disproportionate economic burden on commuters from the Hudson Valley.

In January, Congressman Ryan denounced the congestion pricing plan as “unfair, uninformed, and unacceptable” and demanded that the MTA hold an in-person hearing in the Hudson Valley.

The MTA announced a series of hybrid and in-person hearings for its public comment period for its congestion pricing plan running from February 29th to March 4th. However, the MTA refused to hold any hearings outside of New York City, neglecting to recognize the voices of commuters from the regions surrounding New York City. The location for the MTA’s hearings is 2 Broadway, New York, NY 10004 in the William J. Ronan 20th Floor Board Room and the schedule is as follows:

Thursday, Feb. 29, at 6:00 p.m.
Friday, March 1, at 10:00 a.m.
Monday, March 4, at 10:00 a.m.
Monday, March 4, at 6:00 p.m.

Congressman Ryan has spearheaded other efforts to lower the cost of living for Hudson Valley families. He recently introduced his Stopping Pharma’s Ripoffs and Drug Savings For All Act to lower the cost of prescription drugs and recently voted for a bill to expand the Child Tax Credit, which passed out of the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.. Congressman Ryan has led efforts to hold Central Hudson accountable for its egregious billing practices and has repeatedly demanded it halt its plans for a rate hike until all billing issues are resolved.

Congressman Ryan is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

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