No Roads For You! Blue City To Slap Drivers With Stringent Toll To Reduce Traffic, Pollution

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Jake Smith Contributor
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New York City is implementing congestion pricing policies that will drive up costs for people traveling by car.

The city will implement a daily toll — $15 and up — for drivers traveling in Manhattan south of 60th Street, with some exceptions including on FDR Drive and the West Side Highway, Axios reported on Monday. The policy, which took decades to develop and is the first of its kind in the country, has faced backlash and legal challenges from residents and advocacy groups who claim it will hurt small business owners and drive up costs for travelers. (RELATED: New York City Residents Say Quality Of Life Has Dropped As Crime, Illegal Immigration Swell)

“It’s going to kill Broadway,” Susan Lee, president of New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing — one of the groups suing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) — told Axios. “You’re going to charge me $15 to come in to see a play, in addition to what I’m already spending?”

The policy is set to go into effect sometime in June, although an exact date hasn’t been locked down yet, according to Axios. It is expected to reduce traffic in the toll area by 17% and reduce pollution; money made through the toll will be purposed to upgrade the city’s public transportation system.

The plan is to run a $15 toll for any drivers to the region during “peak hours” — 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during weekends, according to Axios. It will cost $3.75 during off-peak hours.

Buses and trucks will pay up to $36 depending on their size and what their purpose in the city is, according to Axios. Residents seeking to catch a taxi will pay an additional $1.25 per ride, and $2.50 with Uber and Lyft.

(Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Pedestrians and cars move along First Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York, in the pouring rain, on February 27, 2024. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Although the policy has received 60% favorability through public comments, six lawsuits have been filed against the city in federal courts, which could hamstring its enforcement, according to Axios. Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is among the legal challengers of the plan, citing environmental concerns.

“You are not eliminating pollution, you are just displacing it from Manhattan to New Jersey,” Murphy said, according to ABC 7. “And you’re charging our commuters an exorbitant fee on top of that.”

Former Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the plan into law in 2019, now opposes its enforcement.

“Many things have changed since 2019 and while it is the right public policy, we must seriously consider if now is the right time to enact it,” Cuomo wrote in an op-ed for the New York Post in March. “What impact will an additional $15 entry surcharge have on New York City’s recovery in this moment — when the migrant crisis, crime, homelessness, quality of life and taxes are all pressing problems?”

Less than half of New Yorkers feel safe riding the subway during the daytime in 2023, a more than 30% drop from 2017 and 2008, according to a poll conducted by the Citizens Budget Commission in March. Crime rates on the subway did not drop significantly between Jan. 1 and Mar. 1, and there has been an increase in the number of gun-related arrests.

Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed the state National Guard to segments of the city subway system in March to deter crime. Hochul’s plan was met with criticisms and she subsequently altered the policy so that only units would be armed, calling into question how effective they could be while conducting operations.

“Honestly, we’re just not at a good place,” Lee told Axios. “The MTA needs to assure the public, to regain the confidence that we need to use the subway.”

Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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