Hochul Halts NYC Congestion Pricing Over Costs


() — In a surprising shift, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has decided to halt New York City’s contentious congestion pricing initiative, highlighting the financial burden on drivers from the proposed tolls.

On Wednesday, Hochul announced that “after careful consideration,” she has instructed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to “indefinitely” suspend the congestion pricing system, which was slated to commence on June 30.

Hochul expressed her continued support for the program’s objectives to lessen traffic and pollution but emphasized, “hardworking New Yorkers are getting hammered on cost, and they, and the economic vitality of our city, must be protected.”

“Let’s be real: A $15 charge may not seem like a lot to someone who has the means, but it can break the budget of a hard-working or middle-class household,” Hochul stated in a video message.

Under the program, drivers would face a $15 additional charge to enter Manhattan at 61st Street and below, while trucks could incur fees ranging from $24 to $36, contingent on their size. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft would pay a $2.50 surcharge. The only exemptions from these new tolls would be for public school buses, commuter buses, and “essential” government vehicles, according to the MTA.

Proponents, such as New York City Mayor Eric Adams, argue that the pioneering program would alleviate traffic, reduce congestion, and cut tailpipe emissions while generating billions to support the city’s public transit system.

However, the plan has faced several legal hurdles, including a challenge from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who has condemned the tolling charges as a “cash grab” that would adversely affect New Jersey commuters.

Murphy, a Democrat, lauded Hochul’s decision to pause the initiative, stating on Wednesday that “the success of Manhattan is inextricably linked to the prosperity of the entire Tri-State Area.”

“Although we have had a difference of opinion with our colleagues in New York on congestion pricing implementation, we have always had a shared vision for growing our regional economy, investing in infrastructure, protecting our environment, and creating good-paying jobs on both sides of the Hudson River,” he remarked.

Leading opponents of the plan, U.S. Reps. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, and Nicole Malliotakis, a New York Republican, issued a joint statement applauding Hochul for delaying the program.

“Gov. Hochul is right, New Yorkers and New Jersey families do ‘have a lot to lose’ from implementation of this Congestion Tax — primarily their hard-earned money,” they stated.

Some Republicans suggest the move could be politically driven.

“NYDems will magically try to make their congestion go away before the election because NO ONE wants it,” Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, Republican, commented in a statement. “Make no mistake, congestion pricing will come right back, and the costs will go up the moment the election is over.”

Nonetheless, Hochul’s decision drew criticism from some Democrats, including Rep. Jerry Nadler, who expressed “disappointment” at the postponement of the plan.

“After years of delays, we need congestion pricing now more than ever to reduce paralyzing traffic in the Central Business District, improve air quality in our city and region, and raise desperately needed capital funds to enhance the public transit system,” Nadler asserted in a statement. “We cannot allow a vocal minority of drivers who don’t qualify for exemptions or discounts to dictate our policy decisions.”

Former President Donald Trump, the presumed GOP presidential nominee whose Trump Tower residence would fall under the new tolls, has declared he would “terminate” the congestion pricing plan if elected.

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