Lander says he’s ready to take legal action to save congestion pricing

At a rally with transportation advocates, the comptroller said he was confident impacted groups, such as New Yorkers with disabilities, have legal standing to sue.

Comptroller Brad Lander said he would take legal action to reinstate congestion pricing.

Comptroller Brad Lander said he would take legal action to reinstate congestion pricing. Eliot Force

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said Gov. Kathy Hochul’s abrupt cancellation of congestion pricing was not only unwise but potentially unlawful, and he promised Wednesday to carry out legal action if congestion pricing does not go into effect on the originally planned June 30 date. A coalition of advocacy groups and legal experts joined the comptroller outside of the Dinkins Municipal Building on Centre Street to advocate for the implementation of congestion pricing. 

“We are here to make it clear that if congestion pricing is not implemented as mandated on June 30th, we are ready and able to take action,” said Lander. 

Congestion pricing was going to unlock $15 billion for the MTA through bond financing backed by the $1 billion per year the program was expected to bring in. Without the funds, the MTA faces a major shortfall in its $51.5 billion capital program for much-needed renovations to the city’s subway system. Plans for new railcars, new train signals, the extension of the Q train to 125th Street and other projects are frozen in place, according to MTA Board Member Andrew Albert who spoke at the press conference. 

The revenue from congestion pricing would also have been used to make 95% of subway stations accessible in compliance with a 2022 settlement between the MTA and two class action lawsuits over the issue. Lander emphasized this legal commitment and the 40 years of advocacy it took to get to this point. He also emphasized the very long timeline for the plan, which is slated to achieve its goal by 2055, and said that any further delays are “unconscionable” and potentially illegal. 

Lander said that a lawsuit against Hochul’s administration has likely legal standing among New Yorkers with disabilities, residents and businesses of the central business district adversely affected by congestion, MTA board members who voted to implement congestion pricing to meet their fiduciary duty and MTA bond holders. Columbia Law School professor Michael Gerrard and Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council Eric Goldstein spoke at the event to explain the strength of these groups' legal standing and the ways in which Hochul’s decision was possibly illegal. 

Lander said he would have to wait until the MTA board’s June 26 meeting and vote on congestion pricing before moving forward with any action. 

“Like the majority of New Yorkers, Gov. Hochul believes this is not the right time to implement congestion pricing,” said a representative for Hochul. “We can't comment on pending or hypothetical litigation.”