Brooklynites fume over congestion pricing delay: ‘Kathy Hochul has betrayed us’

congestion pricing protest
Brooklynites rallied against the sudden delay of congestion pricing outside the Broadway Junction station on Sunday.
Photo by Dean Moses

The angry fallout over Gov. Kathy Hochul’s last-minute move to indefinitely delay congestion pricing continued in Brooklyn on Sunday, as a coalition of fuming bus and subway riders protested and vented against the controversial decision.

Organized by the Riders Alliance, the protesters gathered outside Broadway Junction station, hoisting picket signs taking Hochul to task for, as many protesters described it, betraying the city and its transit riders for pulling the plug on the Manhattan toll plan that would have provided a billion-dollar annual funding stream for MTA improvements.

congestion pricing protest sign
One sign adorned with a clock read, “Don’t cancel @ 11th hour.” Photo by Dean Moses

One sign adorned with a clock read, “Don’t cancel @ 11th hour” while another sign drawn by a child read “clean air, fast trains. Fund the MTA.” Others held up doctored up replicas of an infamous front cover from another New York tabloid which read that Hochul told the city to “drop dead” by putting congestion pricing on ice.

“A year ago, the governor stood in my face and said she is going to fight for this,” said Danna Dennis, a senior organizer at Riders Alliance. “Disappointment, shock, and anger are amongst the host of things that I feel right now. I hope she understands that we are not going to stop.”

City Council Member Lincoln Restler bluntly put it: “Kathy Hochul has betrayed us.”

lincoln restler with crowd at congestion pricing protest
Council Member Lincoln Restler (left) said Hochul had “betrayed” Brooklynites. Photo by Dean Moses

“We know what our communities need,” Restler said. “We need more frequent bus service. We need more reliable trains. We need to reduce our dependence on cars and trucks.”

The large group packed into the front of the Broadway Junction station and nearby plaza, chanting “Congestion pricing now!” While drivers and businesses cheered the decision to scrap the toll plan, the demonstrators say the move amounts to a “defunding” of the MTA, which will have dire consequences for those without access to a vehicle. 

In announcing her sudden decision to halt congestion pricing, Hochul pledged to find alternative funding for the MTA. Efforts to get such a plan passed in the waning days of the state Legislative session, which wrapped up for the year on Saturday morning, ended with failure. MTA executives said it will now have to hammer out a revised capital budget focused on the most necessary repairs rather than larger improvements to modernize the transit system, which they had pinned their hopes on congestion pricing to fully fund.

child with congestion pricing sign
Another sign drawn by a child read “clean air, fast trains. Fund the MTA.” Photo by Dean Moses

At Sunday’s protest, demonstrators expressed great concern that without congestion pricing, train stations in Black and Brown, and low-income, communities would be de-prioritized and not receive the repairs needed.

They also railed for the need for elevators for disabled riders (most subway stations are not ADA-accessible more than 30 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became the law of the land). Protesters also said traffic would only grow across the city without congestion pricing, and result in emergency services getting stuck behind large amounts of traffic.

Local state Sen. Jabari Brisport also attended the rally, pledging that he would support those rallying for Hochul to change her mind.

Jabari Brisport at congestion pricing protest
State sen. Jabari Brisport urged the governor to “do the right thing.” Photo by Dean Moses

“In the coming days she [Hochul] will try to blame the hole in MTA’s budget on other people,” Brisport said. “We have a solution; it’s called congestion pricing and it’s not too late to do the right thing!”

Hochul’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

This story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site amNewYork Metro.