MTA receives final federal approval for congestion pricing

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Gov. Hochul, others hail federal approval of congestion pricing
The MTA received final approval to move forward with congestion pricing in New York City on Monday.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York Governor Kathy Hochul joined elected officials and transit advocates Tuesday to formally announce that the federal government has given its approval to the MTA's congestion pricing plan.

The MTA received final approval to move forward on Monday, part of an effort to reduce traffic, improve air quality and raise funds for the city's public transit system.

"I am proud of the thorough Environmental Assessment process we conducted, including responding to thousands of comments from community members from across the region," Hochul said. "With the green light from the federal government, we look forward to moving ahead with the implementation of this program."

The green light came from the Federal Highway Administration, which issued a Finding of No Significant Impact from congestion pricing.

The program could begin as soon as the spring of 2024, bringing New York City into line with places like London, Singapore, and Stockholm that have implemented similar tolling programs for highly congested business districts.

It calls for tolling drivers who drive south of 60th Street as much as $23 every time they come into the zone, with the exact amount still to be decided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is overseeing the long-stalled plan.

Drivers who stay on the West Side Highway or the FDR could be exempt.

The MTA received final approval to move forward with congestion pricing in New York City on Monday. Sonia Rincon has the details.

The new tolls are expected to generate another $1 billion yearly, which would be used to finance borrowing to upgrade the subway, bus and commuter rail systems operated by the MTA.

However, the fight may not be over yet.

The plan has been sharply opposed by officials in New Jersey, where people bound for Manhattan by car could see costs of commuting skyrocket. Taxi and car service drivers have also objected, saying it would make fares unaffordable. Some MTA proposals have included caps on tolls for taxis and other for-hire vehicles.

Governor Murphy says New Jersey's concerns were never addressed by the Federal Highway Administration.

"We are deeply disappointed by the FHWA's limited review and skeptical of the motives of a financially ailing agency that has failed to meaningfully engage with our Administration on this issue," the governor said in a statement.

WATCH: NJ, CT drivers sething after congestion pricing final approval

Drivers from New Jersey and Connecticut are seething today after final approval was granted for New York City's controversial congestion pricing plan.

And some New Jersey elected officials are threatening legal action.

Senator Menendez and Congressman Gottheimer and Pascrell are expressing outrage in a statement, calling it a 'cash grab to fund the MTA,' and saying there is no excuse for the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Transportation's failure to require New York to meaningfully engage with stakeholders across New Jersey.'

"From $2.75 to $2.90, will disproportionately impact low-income Black, Latino and Asian individuals in transit deserts," said Malik James.

"I urge you to reconsider for the livelihoods that depend on mass transit and take into consideration the students who are the future of this city," said Sabil Manai.

Among those urging the MTA to not raise fares is Betsy Lindor, who says congestion pricing while benefitting the MTA will also squeeze commuters.

"It's just a lot of money you'd have to be paying out of pocket and I don't think it's fair to people like us because it always falls on the consumers," Lindor said.

Still, advocates like Daglian are urging those commuters to think long term - less traffic and better transit.

"The late great Dick Ravitch showed us that if you don't pay for the system, that if you don't continue to care and feed it, that it's just gonna fall apart," she adds.

The final Federal approval means that the MTA can start setting up the tolling infrastructure which will take about a year. In the meantime, there will be more public hearings to help figure out dollar amounts and who gets exemptions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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