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Opinion

Congestion pricing is on the road to reality

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is considering a congestion

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is considering a congestion pricing plan for his 2018-19 state budget that would impose an added cost for cars --  including for-hire vehicles in New York City --  to improve air quality and to reduce traffic, an administration official said Tuesday, August 8, 2017. Photo Credit: David Handschuh

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Daily Point

Congestion pricing starts here

Recent talk of congestion pricing plans finally might be more than just talk.

And that means those supporting the Move NY plan, which would change how the state and city toll bridges and institute fees for entering Manhattan’s central business district, have been particularly busy recently.

Representatives of Move NY recently met with “high-level state officials,” along with representatives from the Assembly and Senate, the group’s officials told The Point. A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie confirmed that his chamber recently had conversations with Move NY, part of a series of discussions Assembly members had with representatives from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and transportation-related advocacy groups.

The Move NY proposal would add tolls to the now-free East River bridges, while reducing tolls at other crossings. It would also add a fee for crossing 60th Street, extend a taxi surcharge to cover all for-hire vehicles, including those run by Uber and Lyft, and charge lower and higher tolls at different times of day to try to reduce traffic. Advocates say the plan could raise $1.5 billion a year for regional mass transit, along with the area’s roads and bridges.

While Move NY isn’t new, and its whole basket of changes is unlikely to be adopted, recent problems on the subway and the Long Island Rail Road have shone a brighter spotlight on the innovative concept. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo suggested earlier this month that congestion pricing’s “time has come.”

You can bet there’ll be traffic en route.

Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

Finally, something Cuomo and de Blasio agree about

Squabbling siblings Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have recently been forced to share a plaything: shiny presidential speculation.

De Blasio got the question put to him directly at Wednesday night’s relatively lackluster mayoral primary debate. He grinned and shook his head to say no.

“I’m running for one thing and one thing only,” he said. If re-elected to a second term, the mayor also promised, “I will serve for four full years.” But will he jet to international conferences or jump into national debates during that time, as he did during his first term? Only time will tell.

Cuomo has endured more of the White House queries, given his role as a two-term large-state governor and the history of his father’s higher-office ambitions.

There are some markers: In the last year, Cuomo has made new hires, including Florida fundraisers and veterans of President Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s camps. He has held high-profile events with luminaries like Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, and done infrastructure ribbon-cuttings that show he can finish big projects and drive classic cars across their spans, as he did Thursday across the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

Both politicians have brushed aside such speculation in the time-honored tradition. But New York’s political reporters are keeping vigilant eyes on restless politician syndrome. On Wednesday, a Politico report picked up on Cuomo’s relatively unscripted manner while conducting some retail politics at the New York State Fair. Practice for Iowa? Plenty more analyses of sausage consumption to come.

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Donald Trump’s kryptonite

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Quick Points

An election is always looming

  • So it’s settled, Bill de Blasio has guaranteed he would serve a full four years if re-elected, foregoing any thoughts of running for president in 2020. Left unsaid: De Blasio was the only person in America harboring the thought that he would be a viable candidate.
  • In November, just after the election, 74 percent of voters in a nationwide Quinnipiac University poll said newly elected Donald Trump was intelligent, and the same 74 percent said he was a strong person. Now those numbers are down to 55 and 59 percent, respectively, in a new Q poll. Trump hasn’t changed.
  • Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo drove a 1932 Packard convertible used by then-governor and future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt across the new Kosciuszko Bridge to announce its opening in April. Cuomo was in a 1955 yellow Corvette convertible Thursday to announce the opening of one span of what will be named the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. So what will his ride be when the second span is ready? How about a 1910 Baker Electric? It’s all Cuomo — vintage, American-made, green power source, and, oh yeah, it was the favorite car of William Howard Taft. You know, another president.
  • After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that despite reports of a feud with President Donald Trump the two remain in communication, Trump also sought to clarify their relationship in a Thursday morning tweet. The president said the “only” problem he has with McConnell is that he “failed” after seven years to repeal and replace Obamacare, which “NEVER” should have happened. Mitch must be glad Trump straightened that out.
  • You’ll know the controversy over removing historic statues has gone too far when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals demands that Suffolk County remove the Big Duck.

Michael Dobie

Columns