Congestion pricing in New York City indefinitely postponed

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, June 6, 2024
NYC congestion pricing indefinitely postponed
Jim Dolan has more on the fallout of the congestion pricing postponement.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The implementation of congestion pricing in New York City has been indefinitely postponed. It will not start on June 30 as originally planned, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.

The move marks a stunning reversal for public transit advocates who had championed the tolls as a way of raising billions of dollars for New York's beleaguered subway and commuter rail systems while reducing traffic in the city's streets.

Hochul said that while she remains committed to the program's environmental goals, implementing it now as New York City is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic "risked too many unintended consequences for New Yorkers at this time."

The tolling program had been scheduled to start June 30.

The governor framed her decision as economic, saying the city's recovery from the pandemic is incomplete and "hard-working New Yorkers are getting hammered on costs" for food, housing and childcare.

The governor expressed concern suburban commuters would choose to work from home or skip recreational visits to the city. She said nothing about politics, which undoubtedly played a role in her decision to instruct the MTA to indefinitely pause implementation of congestion pricing.

"We remain fully committed to advancing all the improvements New Yorkers have been promised," including track and signal repairs, security cameras and the extension of the 2nd Av. subway line. She said the state had already set aside funding for the MTA in case congestion pricing was held up by the courts.

Watch Gov. Hochul's complete statement on congestion pricing:

Watch Gov. Kathy Hochul's complete statement on her decision to postpone the start of congestion pricing.

New York would have become the first U.S. city to join a handful globally with similar congestion pricing schemes, including London, Stockholm, Milan and Singapore, which is credited with pioneering the first such program in 1975.

Most people driving passenger vehicles into Manhattan below 60th Street - roughly the area south of Central Park - would have to pay at least $15 under the system, with larger vehicles paying more. Those tolls would come on top of the already hefty tolls for using bridges and tunnels to enter Manhattan, like the $13.38 to $17.63 it costs to take a car through the Lincoln or Holland tunnels.

The MTA has already invested tens of millions of dollars installing cameras, sensors, license plate readers and other equipment on city roadways in anticipation of the plan's launch. The fee was expected to provide an annual cash infusion of around $1 billion for subway and bus systems that carry some 4 million riders daily.

Joe Torres has the latest from the Upper West Side on congestion pricing.

The decision to delay also comes as Democrats are facing difficult House races in the New York City suburbs. Republicans have planned to use congestion pricing as a political wedge.

Congressman Mike Lawler, a Republican representing part of the Hudson Valley, wasted no time in weighing in on the governor's decision.

The Mornings @ 10 team talks congestion pricing delays with U.S. Representative Mike Lawler.

"I think it's a great step in the right direction," said Mayor Mark Sokolich, (D) Fort Lee. "We're not in Fort Lee trying to get the MTA to not operate properly we're just trying to make sure there's fairness in the process."

Sokolich said Fort Lee would have had to cope with a 25% traffic increase throughout their area which would have negatively impacted the air quality.

The Mornings @ 10 team talks with Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich on congestion pricing being postponed.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in part, "Although we have had a difference of opinion with our colleagues in New York on congestion pricing implementation, we have always had a shared vision for growing our regional economy, investing in infrastructure, protecting our environment, and creating good-paying jobs on both sides of the Hudson River. We fully embrace the notion that the success of Manhattan is inextricably linked to the prosperity of the entire Tri-State Area. Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams have been strong, collaborative governing partners and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them for the benefit of all of our residents."

ALSO READ: NJ reaction to postponement of congestion pricing

On the flip side, Sam Schwartz, a transportation expert called the decision by the governor, disappointing.

"I'm very disappointed, I thought the governor had a lot of courage to proceed even though it was another governor that recommended it. I'm disappointed by her saying the timing isn't now, the timing is now," he said. "The reality is that the transit system will suffer."

The MTA, which would potentially face a $1 billion budget deficit without implementation, declined to comment.

Members of the MTA board, which oversees the transit agency, said they had not been briefed on the delay.

"I'm in shock," said Andrew Albert, a member of the board. "We won't get new buses, new subway cars, new signals. It's a betrayal of the millions and millions of people who would have been helped by this."

John Samuelsen, President of the Transport Workers Union of America, said Hochul was warned about moving forward with the plan without having "massive service improvements" already in place.

"This was the moment in time to do it. This is the moment in time to green New York City, to increase public transit, to change commuter behavior and she blew it! They flushed the moment down the toilet. They flushed the moment down the toilet by not improving service for working people," Samuelsen said.

Sonia Rincon has more reaction to congestion pricing on the East Side outside the governor's office.

Hochul had been a vocal supporter of the plan, which was signed into law by her predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in 2019.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday that he would support the governor's decision to reassess. "If she's looking at what others we can do it and how we can do it correctly, I'm all for it," he said. "This is a major shift for our city and it has to be done correctly."

Lindsay Tuchman has the report from Staten Island.

There were several lawsuits filed against congestion pricing, and one official on Staten Island said they are waiting for a final decision by the state before deciding what to do with their lawsuit.

"It's a little premature to make that decision because we don't know what's going to come out of the state, once the state makes its official position, then we'll decide what to do with the litigation," said Vito Fossella, Staten Island Borough President.

The Mornings @ 10 team congestion pricing delays with Staten Island borough president Vito Fossella.

On Long Island, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said that the governor couldn't deny that the plan was a bad idea for the whole metropolitan area coming out of the pandemic.

"I'm very grateful that the sole vote against this on the MTA was our representative," Blakeman said. "I just hope that the governor isn't contemplating a commuter tax on the suburbs."

Chantee Lans has the latest from Nassau County.

There remains a belief that congestion pricing is inevitable. The plan would charge a $15 toll for passenger cars driving south of 60th Street from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays. There are certain exceptions. Several lawsuits are challenging the plan.

ALSO WATCH | Relief or concern for businesses in the congestion pricing zone?

Anthony Carlo has more on congestion pricing and the delay's impact on Broadway and businesses in the Theater District.


More Congestion Pricing Coverage

Do you have questions or story ideas about congestion pricing? Tell us how congestion pricing could impact your commute. Eyewitness News would love to hear from you.

Please use the submission form below: