Manhattan drivers are angry about congestion pricing fees to reduce gridlock

This column originally appeared on “On the road,” A weekly newsletter covering everything you need to know about transportation in the New York City area.

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New York City motorists released a large amount of hot air from their windpipes this week after the MTA board gave its decision. Final approval of congestion pricing. As soon as June, they will pay a basic fee of $15 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street.

“I think they're robbing everyone for $15 a day,” Boro Park driver Jason Lopez, 47, said while stuck in lower Manhattan on Wednesday, hours after the tolls were approved. “I'd rather take the ferry now.”

Lopez's response is exactly what the MTA wants. One of the main goals of congestion pricing is to reduce traffic in the busiest areas of Manhattan by up to 20% by getting commuters to get out of their cars and onto mass transit. By law, the money must come from the fees Pay for upgrades to subways, buses and commuter rails. The MTA says air quality in Manhattan will improve as a result of this program.

But don't tell that to drivers like Financial District resident Melissa Carrasquillo, who thinks the whole scheme is just another toll in a city that's hard to afford.

“It's terrible for people who live in the city [Manhattan] “To charge us for being in the same area as us,” said Carrasquillo, 42, who noted that she got a cheap downtown apartment with free parking years ago. “Some of us use public transportation, but some of us have our own cars. I think it is terrible that they continue to impose additional taxes and fees on us.”

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MTA officials point out that they have made some concessions for drivers who live in the congestion zone: The 2019 state law authorizing the program gives people who earn $60,000 a year or less a tax credit equal to the tolls they pay.

Taxi drivers also weren't fans of the fees. Members of the Taxi Workers Alliance boycotted an MTA board vote Wednesday and chanted their disapproval of an aspect of the plan that would add an additional $1.25 fee to yellow and green taxi trips entering the area.

The New York Trucking Association also objected to the fee, which will rise to $36 for large trucks, claiming in a statement that the city “will soon see an increase in commodity prices.”

However, some drivers saw benefits to the plan, and thought the toll would be worth it if they reduced traffic in Manhattan.

“I think the road is busy, and I think we should pay our way,” said Darrell Martin, 57, a Tesla driver stuck in traffic on Church Street. “I'm probably one of the only New Yorkers you'll actually find leadership for.”

Curious passengers

Reader question:

“Why doesn't the MTA get rid of the old weekend schedules?”

– a. Riley, Brooklyn

The MTA runs fewer trains and buses on weekends because fewer people ride those days. Subway turnstiles record about 3.8 million entries per day, while transit buses record about 1.2 million entries. That's almost double the number of passengers on a Saturday or Sunday. In the wake of the pandemic, commuters have returned at a higher rate on weekends than on weekdays, largely due to the popularity of remote work. The MTA recently made some concessions to weekend warriors. an agency He was appointed “Weekend Service Czar.” In 2022, he added More trains on the G, J and M lines last year.

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