Good afternoon, my name is Mike Stanton, and I am a resident of White Plains. I’m a regular Metro-North and Subway rider, and a member of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council. I’m here to speak in support of Congestion Pricing.
In fact, Metro-North riders have many reasons to support congestion pricing, including critical upgrades to our signals, stations, tracks, and overall commutes. Altogether, $15 billion will be raised for critical capital projects across the MTA system, and for commuters who transfer from the railroad to the subway, we know that improvements need to be made and the system needs to be protected from the impacts of more severe storms. The longer we wait to build these critical resiliency improvements, the more expensive they will become—especially as we risk worsening extreme weather and disaster year after year. Congestion pricing will help us maintain our vital transit network for generations to come.
Riders across the system will benefit from the improvements that the funding will bring, including accessibility projects in stations in the Bronx and Westchester, security upgrades, new train cars repairs to Grand Central’s tracks and platforms, signal upgrades from Croton Harmon to Poughkeepsie, and better service on the Port Jervis line – not to mention the four new stations coming online in the Bronx through Penn Access that will make Metro-North more equitable.
After a generation without major improvements to the region’s transit system, we have begun to get a taste of what’s possible, from the Hudson Yards extension, to the Second Avenue subway, and the imminent opening of Grand Central Madison. The MTA deserves credit for building the internal capacity to deliver these projects and it has credibility when it speaks to riders about the future. If the MTA is forced to scale back its capital program in the absence of Congestion Pricing, and loses that knowledge, we risk spending more and getting less in the long run.
A variety of opinions will be heard today, including many pleas for exemptions. But these hearings are about whether Congestion Pricing will accomplish the goals of reducing traffic and increasing mobility around the Central Business District, and raising $1 billion annually for the MTA’s capital program with No Significant Impact on the environment. With 90% of people entering the CBD using transit, walking, or biking, congestion pricing will improve the commutes and lives of millions of New Yorkers and others around the region. The answer is a resounding YES, and a Finding of No Significant Impact is warranted.