MTA board advances congestion pricing plan to next step for public comment period

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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
What's next for NYC congestion pricing?
Lauren Glassberg has more Wednesday's vote on congestion pricing.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The MTA board voted Wednesday to advance its congestion pricing plan to the next step -- a 60-day public comment period.

This will allow people to weigh in on the plan and ask questions.

The vote to advance the Traffic Mobility Review Board's recommendations was 9-1, with the sole no vote coming from board member David Mack, who represents Nassau County. Mack called it an added burden that would create "ridiculous" side effects -- like a holding pattern of commuters waiting until 9 p.m. to dine in Manhattan.

But Board member Sammy Chu, who represents neighboring Suffolk County, called it a historic policy that isn't easy, but the right thing to do.

The city has requested exceptions for both taxis and school buses. MTA Chair and CEO Janno Leiber said school bus exemptions make sense - but the agency would have to figure out how to assess the bus companies when their vehicles are not transporting students.

As for taxis, Lieber said they sympathize with drivers, but the industry's plight is not directly congestion.

Thirty-five members of the public also spoke out.

"We fully understand the regional benefits that it could provide, which would be cleaner air for everyone, more consistent and dedicated funding for public transit which is important, and definitely less congestion," one member of the public said.

While some spoke in support of the plan, others were against it.

"Fifteen times five is $75, you're basically saying to all these low-income New Yorkers, well sorry we're basically going to price you out," another member of the public said.

Congestion pricing would impose a $15 fee on vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street. Additionally, trucks could pay $24-$36, depending on size, motorcycles would pay $7.50, taxis would pay $1.25 and rideshare vehicles would pay $2.50.

Additionally, it was revealed Wednesday that in the environmental assessment conducted by the MTA and its partners, the MTA reserves the right to increase the congestion pricing toll 25% on gridlock alert days, possibly up to $18.75.

The MTA also reserves the right to raise or lower the tolls by up to 10% within congestion pricing's first 12 months.

"Congestion pricing means cleaner air, better transit and less gridlock on New York City's streets and today's vote by the MTA Board is a critical step forward," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "The proposal approved today heeds my call to lower the toll rate by nearly 35 percent from the maximum rate originally considered. This initiative will make New York City a global leader in transportation policy, and I'm grateful for the work of the Traffic Mobility Review Board to bring us to this milestone."

If approved following the public review process, tolling could begin as early as June.

RELATED | Local congressmen blast NYC's congestion pricing plan, MTA jabs back

N.J. Burkett has more on the ongoing debate over congestion pricing.


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