First public hearing on congestion pricing held at MTA headquarters

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, March 1, 2024
Congestion Pricing hearing draws mixed reactions
Sonia Rincon has the report.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The first public hearing in New York City about the congestion pricing plan drew mixed reactions Thursday night.

Though the MTA is nearly ready to switch on the plate and E-Z Pass readers, after a process that has taken years, this was one of the last steps as the hearing was held online and at the agency's headquarters in Lower Manhattan.

The comments in this series of public hearings are not expected to radically change the plan to toll drivers below 60th Street, but they could help refine it.

With arguments for hiking fees for street clogging, Uber and Lyft drivers are against that.

"The MTA is a money pit," said Raul Rivera, a TLC driver. "Lucifer waits for you."

Most criticism was civil.

"It'll be the final nail in the coffin that'll relegate Manhattan to become the playground for the wealthy," said Andrew Marcus, a resident who lives below 60th Street.

There were also calls for more discounts.

"My patients don't choose to have cancer, but you are choosing to tax them because they do and I beg you to reconsider," said Dr. Fumiko Chino, a radiation oncologist.

"I'm going to have to probably move," said Jane Riback, who lives in the affected zone and has to drive outside the city for work. "The London plan offers a 90 percent discount to all residents within the zone. I'm not in favor of zone residents paying anything, but at least that would benefit low income residents like myself."

Despite the criticism, there were plenty of zone residents who felt like the board congestion pricing can't start soon enough.

"None of you want to be in a situation where you might have been saved, but you died because there was too much traffic," said Mary Beth Kelly of Families For Safe Streets.

For every comment in protest of the toll, Eyewitness News heard at least one from a mass transit mass commuter in support.

The board heard from 120 people in person and on Zoom, and even more who recorded their two minutes.

The next three hearings is slated for Friday at the MTA headquarters and anyone who wants to submit written comments has until March 11.

They will be held virtually and in person, but you do have to register online first.

Meanwhile, the MTA also says it is going high-tech when it comes to the equipment it will use to toll drivers.

Some are obvious, like the large gantries tracking cars that go below 60th Street, but the MTA says some of the devices they'll use, you won't even realize they are there.

Many of the tolling cameras will hang on existing street poles and pedestrian over and underpasses.

The cameras will use infrared technology and will automatically detect a vehicle's size and type so it can charge the appropriate toll.

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An aid and five children were also on the bus.


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