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The New York transit chief says the agency needs to reduce subway improvements after the congestion toll was canceled

MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber speaks during a news conference (Via Jim Moore/Getty Images)

New York’s transportation authority will need to scale back its plans for maintaining and improving subways, buses, and commuter rails after Governor Kathy Hochul stopped a plan to fund the system by charging most drivers $15 to enter Manhattan’s central area, the agency’s leader said Monday.

Janno Lieber, CEO and chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), spoke publicly for the first time since Hochul reversed course on the tolling scheme. He explained that the MTA will now focus on ensuring the safety of the transit system and maintaining current service levels.

“This decision wasn’t made lightly. We can’t proceed with projects without guaranteed funding,” Lieber told reporters at a news conference, noting he learned of Hochul’s decision the night before it was announced.

The MTA had anticipated receiving billions from the nation’s first “congestion pricing” initiative, which would have charged drivers entering Manhattan below Central Park.

A Norfolk Southern train (Tom Brennan/Getty Images)

The tolls, set to begin soon, aimed to finance $15 billion in infrastructure projects and were projected to generate $400 million this year and $1 billion annually thereafter, according to the New York City Independent Budget Office.

Hochul, previously a supporter of congestion pricing, cited concerns about the toll’s financial impact on New Yorkers facing high living costs and its potential effect on the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic as reasons for her reversal.

The governor has not outlined an alternative funding source to replace what the MTA expected from congestion pricing for its upgrades and repairs. She had suggested increasing business taxes, but this proposal was rejected by state lawmakers who did not introduce legislation to replace the lost revenue before the legislative session ended last Friday.

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