Here are some out-of-the-box ways NY could recoup $15 billion for the MTA in lieu of congestion pricing

What, like it’s hard?

The Statue of Liberty – an untapped advertising money-maker.

The Statue of Liberty – an untapped advertising money-maker. AscentXmedia/Getty Images

So congestion pricing is dead, apparently. The toll program for entering Manhattan below 60th Street was supposed to raise about $1 billion per year for the MTA, and was going to unlock $15 billion in loans for the decrepit transit system that is used by millions of New Yorkers every day. 

But fear not! We at City & State are focused on solutions. When one door closes, a window opens etc. etc. There are lots of different ways to raise between 1 and 15 billion dollars. 

Here are a few ways New York could raise money for the MTA in lieu of congestion pricing: 

Tax the rats - It's high time that the furry little neighbors who live in our buildings, restaurants and train stations pay their fair share to the city. These freeloaders don't pay rent on the apartments and hotels they occupy. They don’t pay the fare to get into train stations. And they don’t pay sales tax on the pizza they eat. 

Domesticate the rats and sell them in pet stores - Taxing the rats is a flawless idea outside of the small caveat that rats don’t have an income or use money. Another way to extract value out of the woefully untapped resource that is the 3 million rats in our city would be to domesticate them and sell them to New Yorkers. Even the gnarliest track-dwelling garbage scrounger could become a lovable little critter with a bath and a makeover. Perhaps the city’s Rat Czar could be in charge of the initiative. 

Invest State Pension Funds into Crypto and Ride the Market - Last year, City & State asked the question, “Is Crypto Dead in New York?” Today, we are happy to decisively answer NO. If we invest all of the state’s pension money into a crypto portfolio, the returns are sure to be massive with more than enough to support the MTA. 

One roulette spin at a new downstate casino - Anyone who has ever been to a casino knows that roulette is one of the safest and most skill-based ways to make money off of gambling. The only question is whether to make an inside bet on the numbers or an outside bet on the colors. We think Gov. Hochul should just put the state’s yearly budget on black, but perhaps a referendum should be held to see if the people would prefer her to put it on red. 

Eliminate the cap on casinos - Ask any New Yorker what would make the city better, and you’ll always hear the same answer: Make it more like Las Vegas. By eliminating the cap on casinos, Times Square could become the next Las Vegas Strip, and the money would just start flowing in. 

Raise subway fares to $15 - This one is a no-brainer. If car commuters won’t have to pay $15, just make subway commuters pay it instead. Fare increases are nothing new to New Yorkers, and after initial pushback people get used to them. This is surely what would happen again if the fare was raised to $15. 

Charge entry fees for Central Park - Everyone loves Central Park, and people definitely would pay a fee to get inside. The potential revenue gains are enormous, and as the old adage goes: Just because you can do something, it means that you should. 

Statue of Liberty brand deals - What fashion company wouldn’t pay big bucks to see the Statue of Liberty wearing their clothes? Just imagine Lady Liberty wearing a giant Under Armour hoodie and Timberlands. Ka-Ching!

Fill in the harbor between Manhattan and Governer’s Island and sell the land - New York City has some of the most expensive real estate in the world, especially in lower Manhattan. If the city simply adds more land to that area, they can sell it for beaucoup bucks to all the international real estate investors that love buying housing here. 

MTA fares for walking - New York City is famous for being one of the United States’ most walkable cities. This is great for people, but not so great for the state’s budget. Just think of all the vehicle and gas taxes the government is missing out on. A tax on walking would solve this issue and make up for all those missed dollars. 

Get Jessica Ramos to change her mind about Steve Cohen’s casino but then do an Oceans 11 and rob the casino once it opens in an elaborate heist, give the money to the MTA - This one is self-explanatory.