News & Politics

Poll: Voters dislike both congestion pricing and Hochul

The governor’s favorability rating continues to fall, even though many New Yorkers support her decision to pause congestion pricing.

Gov. Kathy Hochul updates the public on the final day of the state Legislature’s session.

Gov. Kathy Hochul updates the public on the final day of the state Legislature’s session. Darren McGee/ Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

A plurality of New Yorkers thought that Gov. Kathy Hochul made the right choice pausing congestion pricing, according to a new poll. But the decision hasn’t improved voters’ view of her, and the governor’s approval ratings have reached a new low.

A new poll from Siena College found that 45% of New Yorkers support Hochul’s last-minute decision to halt the tolling scheme that was scheduled to begin on June 30. Just 23% of respondents said they opposed the move. The governor’s move was supported by a plurality of respondents across all demographics, though those with higher incomes tended to be more supportive of the governor’s decision. Suburban voters were among those most opposed to congestion pricing, with 56% of those polled backing Hochul’s choice to pause the program.

The governor announced at the start of June that she would indefinitely pause the implementation of congestion pricing, which would have charged most drivers $15 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street. She cited economic concerns about the city’s continued post-pandemic recovery and conversations with New Yorkers worried about the fiscal impact, though Politico New York reported that congressional politics played a large role in her thinking, since congestion pricing was unpopular in key suburban swing districts. The tolling scheme was meant to both reduce congestion and raise money for public transit with $1 billion a year in toll money in addition to billions more from bonds. With no new funding source immediately available – the state Legislature rejected Hochul’s idea to increase the payroll mobility tax for New York City businesses in order to make up for the missing revenue – the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced that a variety of capital projects will need to be scaled down or delayed.

Hochul faced harsh criticism from transit advocates, environmental activists and the business community after she abruptly paused congestion pricing. City Comptroller Brad Lander said he and other advocates are currently exploring legal avenues to force the state to implement the program, which lawmakers approved in 2019. But Hochul has also won praise from outer borough and suburban elected officials, as well as from other groups that have opposed congestion pricing.

Still, just because New Yorkers agree with Hochul on congestion pricing does not mean that they hold a positive view of her performance. The governor’s favorability and job approval ratings, both of which have been trending downwards for months, have once again hit new lows. A near majority – 49% – of New Yorkers have an unfavorable view of Hochul, compared to just 38% who view her well, according to the latest Siena poll. In the suburbs, 52% view the governor poorly. The governor’s job approval ratings are also underwater, with half of New Yorkers saying that Hochul is doing a poor job as governor, compared to 44% who approve of her performance.

Only 36% of New Yorkers said that Hochul offers decisive leadership, compared to 44% who said she does not. And 44% of New Yorkers said that they do not believe Hochul cares about “people like you,” while only 34% believe that she does. Still, a plurality of New Yorkers say that Hochul works hard, is honest and effectively works with other government officials – though those numbers have continued to fall over the past year and a half.