The congestion pricing program would charge vehicles a toll for traveling in Midtown Manhattan and below and generate net revenues sufficient to leverage $15 billion for the MTA's 2020-2024...

The congestion pricing program would charge vehicles a toll for traveling in Midtown Manhattan and below and generate net revenues sufficient to leverage $15 billion for the MTA's 2020-2024 Capital Program, which includes transformational projects.

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul asked the New York MTA to indefinitely pause its congestion pricing plan, which would impose a $15 charge on cars entering Midtown Manhattan and below, citing “too many unintended consequences.”

“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,” said Gov. Hochul. “For that reason, I have directed the MTA to indefinitely pause the program.”

Inside Gov. Hochul’s Decision

The Central Business District Tolling Program was mandated by the State in April 2019 and modeled on urban congestion pricing programs around the world to reduce traffic congestion and raise needed revenue to improve public transportation.

The program would charge vehicles a toll for traveling in Midtown Manhattan and below and generate net revenues sufficient to leverage $15 billion for the MTA's 2020-2024 Capital Program, which includes transformational projects.

It was also believed that congestion pricing would improve overall regional air quality with one of the most comprehensive plans the region has implemented to support a greener future. The environmental assessment found in all tolling scenarios an overall decrease in vehicle-miles traveled in the Central Business District and region overall, and that the program would encourage some commuters to shift from their vehicles to transit.

“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,” said Gov. Hochul. “But hard-working New Yorkers are getting hammered on costs and they and the economic vitality of our City must be protected.”

The Governor added that “literally a year” after the enactment of the law, New York City was the epicenter of the COVID pandemic, with many predicting it would not recover. That ongoing recovery played a role in her decision to halt the congestion pricing plan, she said.

“While our recovery has been stronger and swifter than anyone imagined, it is by no means complete,” said Gov. Hochul. “We cannot afford to undercut this momentum, and I won’t allow this delicate recovery to be jeopardized.”

Also citing a change in how commuting patterns and the downturn in commercial vacancies have had a ripple effect on foot traffic in the city, Gov. Hochul said that, ultimately, she was concerned the fee would cause people to stay home, work remote, and skip visits to the City on weekends to be with family or go to the theater or a restaurant.

“Let’s be real: a $15 charge may not mean a lot to someone who has the means, but it can break the budget of a working- or middle-class household,” she said. “Given these financial pressures, I cannot add another burden to working- and middle-class New Yorkers  or create another obstacle to continued recovery.”

Next Steps

Despite her plan to pause the congestion pricing plan, Gov. Hochul said she remains committed to making the necessary investments in public transit.

The Governor added that funding has been set aside to “backstop” the MTA Capital Plan, with other funding sources currently being explored.

“We remain fully committed to advancing all the improvements that New Yorkers have been promised. That includes immediate investments in reliability and accessibility: track repairs, new signals, adding more elevators at subway and commuter stations,” she said. “It means security cameras and other technologies to improve safety for riders throughout the system. And it means moving forward with transformative projects, like the extension of the Second Avenue Subway and the Interborough Express.”

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