FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES CONGESTION PRICING AND LEADERSHIP FOR THE FUTURE IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, April 6, 2008
"Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
"Last week, the City Council showed real leadership in voting for a policy that will help ensure the future our city and its transit system. I'm talking about congestion pricing. This week, our State Legislators will take up the matter. Time after time, they have served our city well. Now we need their support more than ever, because there are few policies that can deliver as many positive benefits as congestion pricing.
"Congestion pricing, and the transit enhancements it will bring, will immediately improve the daily commutes of thousands of people. For example, it will give commuters in the Bronx a one-seat ride to Lower Manhattan on three new express bus lines. It will bring Staten Islanders 33 new express buses. Queens residents will see 105 new buses as well as improvements to the E and F trains. Brooklynites will also benefit from subway service improvements, and new bus routes in neighborhoods like Canarsie and Bay Ridge.
"These improvements will begin enhancing the quality of life before anyone pays a congestion pricing fee. That's because the Federal government will give us more than $350 million to improve service before we implement congestion pricing. And once congestion pricing is fully implemented, the changes to mass transit will be even more dramatic. The money collected through the system - an estimated half billion a year - will go directly into mass transit.
"Some argue that congestion pricing will levy a tax on those who can least afford to pay it. To make sure this doesn't happen, we have included a provision to reimburse low-income drivers for any fees they are charged. And under our plan, all drivers would be able to deduct their tolls from the congestion pricing fee. But the truth is, most low-income and middle-class New Yorkers take mass transit, and they would benefit greatly from the improvements that could only be made with the revenues from congestion pricing.
"Voting 'yes' on congestion pricing will help ensure that the MTA can pay for the big-ticket transit projects in its capital plan. Projects like the Second Avenue Subway - something that the Assembly has been in favor of for years. Voting 'yes' on congestion pricing will help ensure that Queens finally gets better local service along the Long Island Rail Road, and that people in the Northeast Bronx will be able to ride commuter trains into Penn Station. Voting 'yes' on congestion pricing will help repair Metro North Stations in the Lower Hudson Valley, and it will allow the MTA to finally bring LIRR service into Grand Central, shaving 20 minutes off the commutes of riders who work on the East Side.
"By making improvements to mass transit and giving drivers an incentive to leave their cars at home, we can significantly decrease traffic congestion - not only on our City streets, but also on the highways and bridges leading up to them. And we have to do something, because right now congestion is choking us. It's polluting our air, driving up our asthma rates, and constricting our local economy. Ironically, congestion is really a problem of success; it's the result of so many people wanting to live and work here. After all, New York City is the economic engine that powers the state and the nation.
"To keep that engine firing, we have to make decisions now that will preserve and even improve our quality of life in the years ahead. We can't afford to go back to the days when our subways were a disaster. Congestion pricing was once thought to be a political non-starter, but today, not only has the City Council passed it, the governor supports it, and so do key leaders in the Assembly and Senate. The majority of New Yorkers support congestion pricing too, and now we need our State legislators to represent their interests and vote to strengthen the long-term health of our City.
"This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening."
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958