Ex-Gov. David Paterson hit the brakes on the nation’s first congestion pricing toll system headed for Manhattan — claiming business hasn’t fully recovered from the COVID pandemic and current traffic doesn’t warrant it.
In a Sunday interview with John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM’s Cats Roundtable, Paterson bluntly forecast, “It’s going to be a problem.”
“But the biggest problem of all is… its name is ‘congestion pricing’,” he said. “To have congestion pricing, you have to have congestion.”
“We have it every once in a while, but not to the extent that we did before [the pandemic]. Because of that, Manhattan… is in an egregious situation, where there’s really no commerce going on in the area, because no one’s coming into the stores, because the buildings are empty and no one is coming to work in the buildings.”
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will administer the program, hasn’t set the price yet for what the toll will be — now slated to go into effect as early as next spring.
But it has said it could range from $9 to $23 per day to drive a car in the targeted business district south of 60th Street.
“How are you going to entice them to come if, when they get there, they have to pay $23 to get into the business district?” the former governor said. “That’s the real argument against it.”
Paterson said he backed congestion pricing when it was first proposed more than a decade ago by then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“But the recent problems in terms of the logistics around the city… I wouldn’t be surprised if in two or three years, they [put it up] for reconsideration.”
Paterson’s criticism comes two days after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy filed a federal lawsuit to block the toll, arguing the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration didn’t conduct a proper review of its impact on New Jersey drivers being unfairly targeted.
Meanwhile, Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella said Sunday he’ll also sue to block the plan.
Fossella told The Post he’s reaching out to other outer-borough politicians opposed to the toll system who would likely join the legal fight against it.
The plan is a loser for Staten Island residents because more traffic will be redirected into the borough to avoid the Manhattan toll, Fossella claimed.
“Not only will it be a financial burden, but air quality and traffic will get worse on Staten Island. Who wants that?” the borough president told The Post.
He said Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-SI-Brooklyn) and Council Minority Leader Joe Borrelli (R-Staten Island) will be co-plaintiffs.p
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the MTA have defended the pricing program as a win-win that will curb traffic, improve air quality and generate $1 billion a year in revenue to bolster transit service.
Mass transit advocates also back the plan.
“Everything we’re doing here is for the benefit of New Yorkers and people in the entire commuting range,” Hochul said after the feds approved the congestion pricing plan.
“Twenty-eight million people will benefit from the investments we’re going to continue to make, not just for New Yorkers but for the entire system that serves the neighboring states as well.”