Amid a loud chorus of criticism, Hochul’s congestion pricing reversal supporters speak up

A stream of rallies and op-eds from elected officials have attempted to buttress the governor’s surprise move.

The governor abruptly “paused” congestion pricing.

The governor abruptly “paused” congestion pricing. Deb Cohn-Orbach/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Since New York Gov. Kathy Hochul abruptly halted the state’s long-planned congestion pricing scheme, there has been a torrent of criticism. But in the weeks after Hochul’s congestion pricing halt, there has also been a more muted but steady stream of support in the form of op-eds and testy press conferences. 

The governor’s surprise decision left many scratching their heads, but having legislators publicly support it gives the move greater political legitimacy. Right after the governor announced her decision on June 5, her office sent out a “What They Are Saying” press release quoting more than a dozen moderate Democratic lawmakers who supported her move. The next day, her office sent out another similar release adding more state lawmakers and New York City Council members. 

On June 6, a few lawmakers held a press conference in the state Capitol to defend Hochul’s decision. The next week, Assembly Member David Weprin held a rally at the foot of the Queensborough Bridge, where he was met with congestion pricing advocates who chanted and displayed their signs behind the Assembly member as he spoke.  

Weprin said he did not receive any encouragement to hold his press conference from Hochul but that the governor did reach out to thank him for his public support afterwards. 

This week, The Journal News published two op-eds backing the governor’s reversal. The first was written by Kendra Hems, president of The Trucking Association of New York. The second was by Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan, who’s facing a formidable primary challenge from Trump-endorsed Alison Esposito in his Hudson Valley swing district. Polls from FiveThirtyEight have the candidates tied at 43% of the vote, and Ryan may be hoping that his stance against congestion pricing could give him the edge against Esposito. 

“Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to pause the implementation of congestion pricing was a bold and necessary move for working people across the region,” Ryan wrote

He estimated the additional costs for those in the Hudson Valley who work in lower Manhattan would amount to $5,000 per year, which he said was a significant financial burden for families in his congressional district where the median household income is $89,000.

Hochul’s office has not yet responded to inquiries about whether or not there has been an outreach strategy to bolster public support for the congestion pricing halt.