NYC Transit leaders hold rally in support of congestion pricing

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023
MTA officials hold rally for congestion pricing; Adams urges exemption for school buses, taxis
N.J. Burkett has more on the debate over congestion pricing.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A rally was held in Union Square on Tuesday in support of congestion pricing with demonstrators calling on the MTA to adopt a review board's tolling proposal.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and New York City Transit President Richard Davey were among those in attendance at the rally.

"People should be able to take the train and be able to walk to their jobs and never need a vehicle again because this is New York," said Hochul.

The plan could take effect as early as the spring of next year - slapping tolls on every car and truck driving into Manhattan, south of 60th Street, with very few exceptions.

Mayor Adams supports congestion pricing but said Tuesday that school buses and yellow cabs should be exempt.

"We want the process to take them into consideration," said Adams.

"For the yellow taxis we are asking for a full exemption, this is a fleet that has a history of serving NYC, especially Manhattan, for decades and has gone through incredible financial distress," said deputy mayor Meera Joshi.

All were on hand at the Union Square rally to put pressure on the MTA board to adopt the tolling and credit recommendations put forward by the traffic mobility review board just last week, so the congestion pricing plan can be implemented as soon as possible.

The advisory board was tasked with putting the numbers on paper. The proposal includes:

-Cars entering Manhattan south of 60th Street would pay $15.

-Trucks would pay $24-$36, depending on size.

-A price of $7.50 for motorcycles, $1.25 per ride for taxis, and $2.50 for rideshare vehicles.

The proposed prices have prompted lots of pushback.

On Monday, some elected officials announced a bi-partisan anti-congestion tax act to prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from awarding any new capital investment grants to the MTA until drivers from all New York and New Jersey crossings into Manhattan receive exemptions.

Bergen County Congressman Josh Gottheimer called the congestion pricing plan a scam and money grab that will discourage tourists and decimate New York City small business.

"People like a nurse or an electrician who have to work very hard and work different hours or have no options, have to drive in. They have no choice," Rep. Gottheimer said.

Transit President Davey pushed back.

"This is a little bit of what annoys me with the congressman from New Jersey, in particular, who seems to drive over, complain about congestion, and go back home. It's about improving public transit for New Yorkers and New Jerseyans who come to New York. So, that's my answer. But, you know, the dude wants to see congestion? I welcome him anytime in hell's kitchen during rush hour. Happy to show him around," Davey said.

The MTA board is expected to officially receive the recommendations Wednesday, which will kick off a public comment period.

The MTA board ultimately has to vote on the proposed tolls and credits.

Additionally, Central Park West was closed Tuesday morning by workers installing more congestion pricing gantries, initially delayed until after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. While the rest of the overhead structures on other 60th Street crossings were already built, workers waited until after last month's parade to put up the structures .

The infrastructure will have to be dismantled annually, as do other street signs and traffic lights along parts of the parade's 2.5-mile route, to clear the way for the iconic balloons and floats.

"The parade-day treatment for central business district tolling equipment in future years would be no different than other street infrastructure that's removed as the parade starts and replaced as the parade ends, like traffic lights," an MTA spokesperson has previously said.

RELATED | MTA releases new details of congestion pricing plan

N.J. Burkett has the details on the MTA's congestion pricing plan.


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