If State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan were to look to his constituents and those of his fellow Long Island Republican senators to decide whether to support the congestion-pricing proposal for New York City, there’d be no question what their votes should be.
A resounding yes.
Of the Republican state senators on Long Island, Elaine Phillips’ district has the highest percentage of commuters who drive or take taxis into Manhattan’s central business district and would pay a congestion charge.
That staggering number? 4.1 percent.
Everyone else has even fewer commuters driving into midtown or downtown Manhattan, according to a study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an advocacy group that used census data to determine commuting trends by district.
Meanwhile, 18.6 percent of commuters in Phillips’ district in northwest Nassau County take public transit and theoretically would benefit if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority saw increased revenues from a new tolling system.
In Flanagan’s district, 1.9 percent of district commuters would pay the charge, while 5.6 percent take public transit.
For Sens. Carl Marcellino and Kemp Hannon, only 2.5 percent and 2 percent of district commuters, respectively, would have to pay the zoned congestion fee.
Even the three New York City state senators who matter most to Flanagan — Republicans Martin Golden and Andrew Lanza, and Democrat Simcha Felder, who caucuses with the GOP — should support congestion pricing based only on their districts’ commuting data. In Golden’s and Felder’s districts in Brooklyn, more than half of commuters use public transit, while fewer than 4 percent of commuters would pay the congestion charge. For Lanza, only 5.8 percent of district commuters from his Staten Island district would pay the fee, while more than three-fourths of commuters don’t head into Manhattan’s central business district at all.
The data are similarly stark on the Assembly side, where Democrats have been cold to congestion pricing. Across Long Island, 1.5 percent to 5 percent of commuters in Democrats’ districts would pay a congestion fee because they drive into Manhattan’s central business district, while as many as 23 percent take public transit. Similar statistics play out in eastern Queens, too, where Assembly Democrats like David Weprin have vehemently opposed congestion pricing, and in the Bronx, where Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie resides.
But even if the data make for a smooth ride, party politics could leave a tolling plan stuck in traffic.