Officials, advocates and concerned drivers weigh in on MTA congestion pricing plan

Aug 17, 2023, 5:48am Updated on Aug 17, 2023

By: News 12 Staff

The City Council met with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Thursday to get more answers regarding the controversial congestion pricing plan.

Advocates on both sides asked the MTA how the first-in-the-nation congestion pricing plan will look for New York drivers.

Congestion pricing will add additional surcharges for drivers coming into Manhattan south of 60th Street. Drivers could see fee tolls charging anywhere from $9 to $23, depending on the time of day and traffic.

Some members of the city’s Committee of Transportation and Infrastructure, like Councilmember Ari Kagan, expressed fears that this will hurt the economy and middle class.

The Independent Drivers’ Guild called on the board to exempt ride-share and for-hire vehicles from the congestion tolls. Ride-share drivers rallied outside of MTA headquarters, calling on the board to ensure drivers are not subject to these tolls. 

“The drivers are already suffering with lower business from the current tax,” said Andrew Greenblatt of the Independent Drivers Guild. “They’re talking again with hitting them with a second tax. No other group is being hit with these taxes.”

“It’s not going to bring billion dollars a year like MTA hopes,” Kagan says.

Advocacy groups argued that congestion pricing is a long-term investment in the future of the city. They also say it will bring faster buses, safer streets and more access for disabled New Yorkers.

“I’ve been studying transit in New York for a couple of years and the very thing that I figured out was that it needs fixing and it needs work,” says Fordham University student Abby Dziura, who believes congestion pricing will bring benefits. “Generally reduce traffic, better environmental effects. There will be fewer cars on the roads, which means fewer emissions.”

Fewer emissions and safer streets are just a few of the things supporters from Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives hope to achieve.

The plan could be implemented as soon as spring 2024.