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Hudson Valley commuters rip congestion toll

Hudson Valley commuters took to the MTA’s congestion toll Saturday at Ulster County City Hall, pleading with the Big Apple and Albany to put the controversial toll plan on hold.

The event was hosted by Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.), a battleground lawmaker who regularly criticizes fellow Democrats who push for the Manhattan route.

“I think this is a ridiculous plan that is absolutely unacceptable,” Ryan told a packed audience in a conference room at Castleton-on-Hudson Village Hall on Saturday.

The proposed congestion toll would charge drivers $15 a day to enter midtown Manhattan south of 60th Street.

Congressman Pat Ryan hosted a town hall event Saturday where Hudson Valley commuters took advantage of the MTA’s congestion pricing plan. X/@RepPatRyanNY

Ryan says he feels disrespected after the federal government helped bail out the MTA with $10.5 billion 2021 Aid Package.

“I think I’m completely bullish,” Ryan told the Post. “I think people feel like this isn’t even partisan politics, it’s more like, ‘Are you on the side of workers?'” For union members? are you the police? Are you a firefighter? Are you for farmers? So that’s our community. ”

The freshman congressman is seeking an opportunity to provide in-person public comment on the plan outside of five public hearings scheduled for the next few weeks at MTA headquarters in Manhattan. Additionally, Ryan is calling for toll exemptions or discounts for public servants such as police officers, firefighters and city employees.

“We need a waiver, a full waiver, or at least a deep discount, for public servants and other essential workers,” Ryan said. “We talked about essential people during the pandemic. What are we doing for essential people right now?”

Saturday’s public hearing included testimony from numerous firefighters and union members, all of whom objected to the plan.

“If you have to use public transportation, the commute to and from work is even longer because there aren’t as many trains,” said FDNY Deputy Commissioner Jim McCarthy.

A congestion pricing plan passed by the state Legislature in 2019 would charge drivers $15 a day to drive south of 60th Street in Manhattan. christopher sadowski

“You’re spending less time with your family, you’re spending less time at home, you’re spending less time in your community, and you’re spending more time just going back and forth,” he says. “That’s a burden we can’t bear.”

McCarthy, a 35-year veteran of the FDNY, complained about the lack of reliable and timely train service from his home in southern Orange County, especially at odd times of the day.

of port jervis lineFor example, there are only five trains during peak hours, and it takes about two hours to change trains in Secaucus or Hoboken.

Kel Pettersen, a union construction worker who commutes to Manhattan every day, echoed similar sentiments.

“I have to get on the train at 4 o’clock to catch the train,” Pettersen said. “I have two children under the age of four. Anyone with children understands that when you get home, the second shift begins: dinner, bed, washing dishes. That means catching the train. I’ll probably have to wake up at 3 a.m. for that.”

Pettersen said if the plan passes as intended, more trains should be added on both sides of the Hudson River to make commuting easier.

The MTA has held four public hearings ahead of a board vote to finalize toll implementation as early as mid-June. Matthew McDermott

Mr. Ryan faces a difficult re-election campaign later this year, one of the most competitive in the country, he said. cook political report. Ryan, an Army veteran and former Ulster County executive, will face Lieutenant Governor candidate Allison Esposito, a former NYPD officer.

Republicans are expected to attack Democrats over congestion pricing ahead of this year’s election.

Ryan said this is part of the reason he is calling on elected officials to halt congestion pricing plans before they begin.

“I think if we speak up enough, these things can be stopped, but I’m worried that in this case it looks like they’re trying to force us to do it,” Ryan said. Told.

MTA Administrator Jano Lieber did not attend the hearing, but at one point sent his chief of staff, Laura Wiles, to tell the audience that she had been instructed not to answer questions.

Many commenters said they would have no choice if the tax removed public transportation from the roads. Matthew McDermott

“Congress passed the Congestion Pricing Act four years ago to alleviate congestion, improve public health and support mass transit,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement provided to the Post. I mentioned it in the.

“Since then, there have been thousands of pages of analysis and dozens of public meetings,” Donovan added. “I welcome Congressman Ryan’s dialogue.”

The MTA did not respond to questions about whether Wiles took public transportation to the hearing.

Nolan Hicks contributed reporting to this article.

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