a large stone arch with lights at night
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

New York Congestion Pricing Program Paused Indefinitely

Did the congestion suddenly go away?

Although members of the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority overwhelmingly voted to approve congestion pricing in the city of New York on the morning of Wednesday, December 6, 2023, the New York Congestion Pricing Program has been paused indefinitely by the current governor of the state of New York.

New York Congestion Pricing Program Paused Indefinitely

Congestion pricing in the city of New York was “enacted in a pre-pandemic period where workers were in the office five days a week, crime was at record lows and tourism was at record highs. Circumstances have changed and we must respond to the facts on the ground — not from the rhetoric from five years ago. So, after careful consideration, I have come to the difficult decision that implementing the planned congestion pricing system risks too many unintended consequences for New Yorkers at this time”, Kathy Hochul said in this official statement that addresses the affordability and the cost of living in the city of New York. “For that reason, I have directed the MTA to indefinitely pause the program. Now, I want to be clear. My team worked into the final hours to find a way to implement this because the goals of congestion pricing change — in terms of reducing traffic and pollution — are important. But hard-working New Yorkers are getting hammered on costs and they and the economic vitality of our City must be protected.”

The aforementioned statement is actually a transcript of this video.

Congestion pricing rates for entering the Central Business District of Manhattan south of East 60 Street and West 60 Street was going to cost drivers of:

  • Passenger vehicles: $15.00 per day
  • Small trucks: $24.00 per day
  • Large trucks: $36.00 per day
  • Motorcycles: $7.50 per day
  • Taxi Cabs: $1.25 per ride
  • Rideshare: $2.50 per ride

The rates would have become effective as soon as later this month — which would have meant that New York would have been the first city in the United States to implement a congestion pricing program — but the plan faced fierce opposition from numerous political organizations and consumer groups.

Final Boarding Call

I personally do not like the idea of having to pay to enter lower Manhattan when driving; and I am glad that this congestion pricing plan has been paused indefinitely. One reason is if I am going from Brooklyn, Queens, or Long Island to points west of the Hudson River and I want to stop at Katz’s Delicatessen to pick up some pastrami sandwiches, I would have to pay $15.00 extra just to do that. Among some of the significant issues that had remained unresolved, where will motorists park their vehicles to take subways or buses into Manhattan — especially if they are from out of town?

Perhaps additional mass transportation options should be considered for future projects — especially between New Jersey and New York.

Ironically, Hochul was initially strongly in favor of the program when she said that “Congestion pricing means cleaner air, better transit and less gridlock on New York City’s streets”. Does that fact that 2024 is an election year have anything to do with the reversal of this decision even though she is up for reelection in 2026?

Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

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