A Bush administration official is bemoaning the failure of Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing push, calling it a "loss for the city" and the opponents "shortsighted." During a New York City Building Congress breakfast yesterday, the federal transit administrator for the U.S. Department of Transportation, James Simpson, spoke repeatedly of his disappointment in Albany's failure to pass the congestion pricing legislation, and said New York City had lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars.
The federal government offered up to $354 million in grants conditioned on Albany's approval of congestion pricing.
"Apparently some lawmakers view congestion pricing as an 'elitist' approach to addressing a problem that has reached crisis proportions, and is only expected to get worse as time passes. Well there is nothing 'elitist' about miles of gridlock at rush hour," Mr. Simpson, a Brooklyn native who is a former member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board of directors, said. Mr. Simpson said congestion pricing was a better idea than a fuel tax, which he said "by nature is regressive."
Mr. Simpson also addressed a number of other major projects, saying the Federal Transit Administration was committed to financing the Second Avenue subway, the East Side Access project connecting the Long Island Rail
Road with Grand Central Terminal, and the ARC Tunnel, which would expand rail capacity under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan.
But Mr. Simpson kept returning to congestion pricing. He did not name any of the opponents who defeated the legislation, but did say that New Yorkers need to "hold those elected officials responsible."