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What Congestion Pricing Would Mean for the Subways

LocalWhat Congestion Pricing Would Mean for the Subways


Good morning. It’s Wednesday. Today we’ll take a closer look at the congestion pricing plan for Midtown and Lower Manhattan, which could become reality next month. We’ll also find out about New York City’s plan to revitalize the docks in Brooklyn.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subways, knows exactly how to spend $1 billion.

That’s the amount it expects to collect every year from congestion pricing, its plan to charge drivers who take their cars south of 60th Street in Manhattan.

The agency has set June 30 as the date to turn on the equipment it installed months ago to read E-ZPasses and license plates on cars entering the congestion-pricing zone. It might not get to do so at that time. Several legal challenges have been filed in federal courts, including one brought by New Jersey officials. That case was argued before a judge in Newark last month and is likely to be decided before the tolls would take effect next month.

Three other lawsuits against congestion pricing will be heard in Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan on Friday. One involves a challenge by a group called New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing Tax, which says that areas like the Lower East Side, East Harlem and the South Bronx will have more traffic and endure more pollution with congestion pricing. The other is filed by the teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers.

Either judge could order a last-minute delay.

Supporters of congestion pricing expect traffic and pollution in Midtown Manhattan to decrease. And if large trucks and cars stay away, buses could go faster than 5.9 miles per hour, the average speed in Manhattan in March, the most recent month for which the agency has posted data. So passengers who rely on buses to get where they are going would get there faster.

Opponents say it is a “cash-grabbing scheme.” Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, an outspoken foe of congestion pricing, has said that the tolls will raise far more money than the M.T.A. expects — as much as $3 billion annually.

Whatever the amount, the money from congestion pricing would mostly go toward what my colleague Winnie Hu called “unglamorous but essential work” underground, in the subways.

It is work that is not really optional, even though what the M.T.A. has in mind are the kinds of projects and purchases that were too often deferred in the past: maintaining a sprawling system with 665 miles of track.

The M.T.A. sees congestion pricing as the largest source of funding for its current $51.5 billion capital program. The emphasis is on repairing or replacing aging equipment, modernizing signals and making stations more accessible.

Some of the money would pay for new subway cars, but not just to make things nicer for riders. The older the fleet, the more vulnerable it is to breaking down. A breakdown during rush periods can cause delays — delays that can easily cascade to more than one line.

Infrastructure work takes time and is not always visible to passengers. Congestion pricing would pay for projects intended to make the subway system more reliable, including $3 billion to improve signals on the A and C lines in Brooklyn and on the B, D, F and M lines in Manhattan. They operate with a switching system that dates to the 1930s.

Andrew Rein, the president of the Citizens Budget Commission, a watchdog group, mentioned 2017, when the subway was plagued by delays in what became known as the “Summer of Hell.”

“We don’t want to return to that — or potentially much worse,” he told me. “If we don’t do this now, we risk the system crumbling around us.”


Weather

Expect rain and temperatures in the high 60s. At night, rain is likely to continue, with temperatures dropping to the upper 50s.

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING

In effect until May 27 (Memorial Day).


Red Hook, Brooklyn, was once one of the busiest ports in the United States — and the kind of place that inspired “A View From the Bridge,” the Arthur Miller play about an Italian American longshoreman who takes in cousins who are illegal immigrants.

The Red Hook piers rotted over the years as Brooklyn was overtaken by container ship terminals on the New Jersey side of New York Harbor. Red Hook became a departure spot for cruise-ship passengers.

But now New York City plans to rebuild three dilapidated piers in Red Hook and add a crane for unloading freight there. To do so, Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city would take control of more than 100 acres of the Brooklyn waterfront and invest $80 million in improvements.

Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said the state would invest an additional $15 million, bringing the total investment in the project to $95 million. The state money will go toward a cold-storage facility for perishable products that would arrive by water rather than on trucks.

“Narrow streets are clogged by delivery trucks that are here all day long,” Hochul said. “We want to find ways for these deliveries to occur without clogging the streets.”

Adams said he envisioned a waterfront community with housing and open space.

My colleague Patrick McGeehan writes that the key to unlocking Adams’s vision for the Red Hook waterfront is a deal with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controlled the 100 acres in question.

The Port Authority agreed to swap that land for control of a larger property on Staten Island, where it operates the Howland Hook cargo terminal. Adams described the deal as the largest real estate transaction involving city government in recent history, even though no money is changing hands.


METROPOLITAN diary

Dear Diary:

Strung from pole to pole,

wires gleam at dawn

like necklaces of gold,

and one that’s stretched

across the street bears

a pair of sneakers hung

by its shoestrings twined

as one, flung up there

in such a way that someone seems



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