Congestion pricing in New York City, aimed at reducing car traffic and increasing the use of mass transit, has passed through its final federal hurdle. According to DNYUZ, the toll will charge drivers a fee for entering Manhattan south of 60th street, in one of the busiest commercial districts. Tolling could begin as soon as the spring of 2024. While for some climate and “equity” activists the program couldn’t come soon enough, everyone else is not looking forward to the toll amid concerns that it would negatively impact businesses.
Although a fee has not yet been set, one report released last August showed that one proposal being reviewed would charge $23 for a rush-hour trip into Midtown and $17 during off-peak hours. The congestion pricing is projected to generate $1 billion annually for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.). The money is supposed to fund capital projects, such as building new elevators in subways and modernizing signals, rather than operating costs.
Those who support the toll believe it will make New York more “equitable” as those who could afford to pay the toll will continue driving while those who cannot will use the improved mass transit. Renae Reynolds, the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, “a nonprofit dedicated to improving public transportation,” claimed that the toll will improve New Yorkers’ quality of life because it will improve air quality and help meet “climate goals.”
Still, an outcry of opposition is letting the transportation authorities know that the toll does not have the support of all New Yorkers. Taxi drivers and ride-share companies have expressed their concerns with the toll and the negative impact it will have on their business. With fare increases likely a result of the toll, taxis are worried that demand will decrease. Last week, a group of taxi and for-hire drivers protested outside of Governor Hochul’s office and sent a letter demanding an exemption from the toll.
Despite the outrage, congestion pricing appears to be moving forward. While New York City residents are asked to shell out even more money, in this case some are funding the loss of their freedom while being forced to use mass transit during a frightening time to do so as crime continues to plague New York City’s public transportation.