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MTA seeks public input for unpopular congestion pricing plan

by Staff

New York City’s congestion pricing plan, which would charge drivers $15 for entering parts of Manhattan below 60th Street, will undergo more than two months of public comment and hearings starting Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced.

In a news release, the MTA said written and voicemail comments would be accepted through March 11. Four hearings will be held from late February through early March, with members of the public who register in advance given two minutes each to comment. Those hearings will be conducted live at the MTA’s Lower Manhattan headquarters and via Zoom.

The release listed an email for comment, [email protected], and a phone number to register for the hearings, 646 252-6777. 

MTA Bridges and Tunnels will review the public comments before the plan goes back to the MTA board for final approval.

The MTA’s release said its congestion pricing program is modeled on urban congestion pricing programs around the world to reduce traffic congestion and raise revenue to improve public transportation. Similar programs have improved air quality in other cities, the MTA said.

Suffolk County’s MTA board representative, Sammy Chu, voted this month in favor of the plan, citing those reasons.

But 72% of Long Island voters in a recent Newsday/Siena College poll opposed the plan, with some deriding it in interviews as a cash grab.

Nassau’s representative, David Mack, was the sole dissenter in the 9-1 board vote. He said it would bring “an added burden” to New Yorkers and suggested the agency search elsewhere for new revenue, including more federal aid.

Recommendations on toll rates and policies from the MTA’s Traffic Mobility Review Board issued this winter include the $15 base toll for most vehicles, with higher tolls for non E-ZPass users and trucks. Tolls would be discounted by 75% after 9 p.m.

Cars entering Manhattan’s most congested areas from tolled tunnels would get a $5 credit. Taxis and app-based for-hire vehicles, like Uber, would pay a fee for every trip made within the toll zone that would be passed on to passengers. Low-income drivers would receive a 50% discount after their first 10 trips.

Exemptions would only be given to vehicles transporting people with disabilities, emergency vehicles — including ambulances and those used by police and firefighters — and certain specialized government vehicles, including transit buses, snowplows and garbage trucks.

With Alfonso A. Castillo

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