Campaign for New York's Future Members React to City Council's Congestion Pricing Vote

March 31, 2008
Contact: 
FROM:           CAMPAIGN FOR NEW YORK’S FUTURE
  
Contact:          Rubenstein Communications, Inc.
Bud Perrone at (212) 843-8068; (347) 512-2383; bperrone@rubenstein.com
Virginia Lam at (212) 843-8342; (917) 754-1461; vlam@rubenstein.com
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
 
COALITION OF ENVIRONMENTAL, PUBLIC HEALTH, CIVIC, LABOR COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERS APPLAUD NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL’S APPROVAL OF CONGESTION PRICING
 
NEW YORK, March 31, 2008 – Members of the Campaign for New York's Future – an unprecedented citywide coalition of more than 150 civic, labor, community, environmental, public health and business organizations – today praised the New York City Council for voting in favor of congestion pricing. 
 
“Less traffic, better transit, cleaner air, good jobs - millions of New Yorkers who share these goals can feel proud that the City Council listened to the facts and today voted ‘yes’ for congestion pricing to put New York on track to this better, healthier, more livable future, said Michael O’Loughlin, Director of the Campaign for New York’s Future.  After almost a year of research, debate, public dialogue and fine-tuning, New Yorkers are eager to move forward to our future of less traffic, better transit and cleaner air.  Now, we look forward to working with our leaders in Albany to take the next step this week and ensure New Yorkers receive the benefit of $354 million in federal money to improve our bus and subway system right away. 
 
“Hallelujah, Albany here we come!” said Gene Russianoff, Staff Attorney for the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign. “If state legislators vote the interests of the vast majority that use subways and buses, I feel strongly that congestion pricing will pass.”
 
“More than 95% of the working people of this City use mass transit to enter the congestion pricing zone to go to work. This plan provides the funding for the expansion and the maintenance for a world class mass transit system,” said Edward Ott, Executive Director of the New York City Central Labor Council.  “The congestion pricing plan is well thought out in terms of securing federal funding, expanding our mass transit system, unclogging our roads and highways, creating good, long-term jobs, and sustaining a cleaner environment for the City of New York.  My thanks go to the Mayor and his staff for their hard work on this crucial issue for our future.”
 
“Today, the City Council has taken a courageous, bold step toward a greener future for New York City. Congestion pricing will help the Big Apple make a quantum leap in terms of the quality, efficiency and capacity of our mass transit system, and it will encourage drivers to make their commute a more environmentally responsible one,” said Marcia Bystryn, Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We heartily applaud the City Council and Speaker Christine Quinn for seizing this historic opportunity, and we look forward to working with the state Legislature to make better mass transit a reality.”
 
“All New Yorkers should take a moment to congratulate their elected representatives for being leaders in ensuring cleaner air, better transit and a more livable future for our city and region," said Robert Yaro, President of Regional Plan Association. "With this vote, the New York City Council has taken a critical step in officially approving congestion pricing, and it is now up to their colleagues in the state legislature to seize this opportunity.”
 
“The City Council has brought New York one step closer to clean air and better transit,” said Andy Darrell, Director of the Living Cities Program for the Environmental Defense Fund and a former member of the New York State Traffic Mitigation Commission. “67% of New Yorkers support congestion pricing, and now the City Council does too. Many American cities are looking for solutions to traffic gridlock – today’s vote is a vote for a transportation system that can help solve the challenge of climate change.”
 
“By approving congestion pricing, City Council has broken with a hundred years of car-centric politics. We applaud the Council Members for making this courageous and unprecedented vote," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "Whether you are a bus rider stuck in traffic or a parent whose child suffers from asthma, today's vote means that relief is on the way.”
 
“Today the Council has taken a bold step for the future of New York. Our neighborhoods, in all five boroughs, will see immense benefits from congestion pricing,” said Peter H. Kostmayer, President of the Citizens Committee for New York City. “Traffic congestion is a detriment to quality of life all over the city, and today our Council Members have shown that they understand the need to support public transit and make NYC a leader in addressing our global climate crisis by reducing personal auto use.
 
“Congestion pricing is now one step closer to reality, and the American Lung Association of the City of New York applauds the City Council for their vote today in support of public health. By taking vehicles off our streets and reducing tailpipe emissions, this plan will provide healthier air for all New Yorkers to breathe,” said President & CEO of American Lung Association of the City of New York, Louise Vetter.
 
“Today, visionary and courageous leaders in the City Council decided to vote for NYC’s future by supporting congestion pricing. In doing so, they are saying Yes to increased economic access through improved transit, saying Yes to cleaner air, saying Yes to a better quality of life for low and moderate income commuters and commuters of color who overwhelming endure long and difficult commutes on buses and trains. With this Council vote, NYC is making greater strides towards environmental sustainability and economic viability.  We thank our enlightened elected officials for sharing this goal with Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the nearly 150 transit, environmental, labor, business, and civic groups who have advocated for congestion pricing,” said Veronica Vanterpool of Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
 
“The City Council's vote in support of Congestion Pricing marks an important and historic moment in the history of New York City, but it is only the first step towards victory and transportation equity. When the State Legislature passes their congestion pricing bill, when the money raised is dedicated and prioritized for underserved neighborhoods that need real on-the-ground transit improvements the most, and when those same neighborhoods start to see these improvements without facing any unintended hardships due to congestion pricing, only then can we claim true victory,” said Adam Liebowitz, THE POINT Community Development Associate.
 
“Sierra Club NYC thanks City Council for passing the Home Rule bill in support of congestion pricing,” said Sierra Club NYC Group Chair Dan Miner. “We urge State lawmakers to help implement this vital transportation initiative.”
   
Over the past two months, Campaign members have been active in grassroots organizing and outreach to elected officials from both the State Legislature and the City Council. In February, the Campaign kicked off a print and television campaign to educate New Yorkers about the benefits of congestion pricing. Members have also participated in a number of leafleting campaigns at major transit hubs around the city.  Campaign members have also traveled to Albany to hold educational briefings for legislators to discuss the merits of congestion pricing and the direct transit benefits that their communities would derive from its implementation.
 
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The Campaign for New York's Future is an unprecedented coalition of more than 150 environmental, public health, civic, labor, community and business organizations from across all five boroughs that have joined in support of PlaNYC. For more information about the Campaign, please visit: www.CampaignForNewYork.org.

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