NYC congestion pricing: Will some drivers get exemptions?

18 Aug 2023

As the controversy regarding congestion pricing in New York City heightens, with the planned implementation less than a year away, drivers continue to debate: Who should pay, and how much?

That was the topic of Thursday’s hearing for the Traffic Mobility Board, which addressed the issue of whether some people should pay more than others. Some who drive for a living, such as truck drivers or cab drivers, said that congestion pricing is especially unfair for them.

“They kill my business, no more people take the yellow cab now,” said a taxi driver.

“Uber and Lyft drivers have been taxed since 2019, and now they’re talking about adding a second tax. It’s not the drivers who decide to come into the city, it’s the passengers,” said Andrew Greenblatt, of the Independent Drivers Guild.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy sent a letter on Thursday to the Traffic Mobility Board, asking for drivers from his state to be exempt, arguing they shouldn’t have to pay for the toll to take the Holland and Lincoln tunnels or George Washington Bridge in addition to an extra fee to go into midtown Manhattan. He argued that toll price should count as a credit toward the fee, to ensure they are not having to pay twice.

New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in an effort to block congestion pricing. Staten Island has said it plans to sue the MTA over the plan as well.

“If the sidewalks of the city are congested or crowded, does that mean we should have a walking tax to deal with the congestion on the sidewalks,” argued Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella.

As of now, it is not clear what the base fare to enter Manhattan’s central business district — a.k.a. anywhere south of 61st Street — will be set at, but it could be anywhere from $9 to $23 per trip. Scanners along West End Avenue have been in place for weeks, though the congestion pricing plan isn’t set to go into effect until Spring 2024.

Read more here.