Letter to the Editor: NYC Congestion Pricing – A Commentary

NYC Congestion Pricing public hearings and receipt of emails/letters ended on March 11, 2024. The plan is poorly conceived and untenable as proposed.  In fact, the Transit Workers Union, with over 41,000 local members, has come out against the current plan.  Enumerated below is the reasoning why this plan should not be implemented in its current form:

  1. Congestion pricing is based upon models in London and Sweden.  This model is not applicable to NYC because: there are notoll roads to enter central London. Furthermore, congestion pricing in London is imposed only Monday through Friday, during work hours from 7AM -6PM. In Sweden, while there are two bridge tolls, congestion pricing is called a “tax” and is not chargedon Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, the day before a public holiday and in the month of July.
  2. The middle- and lower class should not again subsidize the MTA’s failure to provide adequate subways and buses, and to repair infrastructure. In 2023, subway/bus fares, bridge and tunnel tolls rose. MTA leaders who are needed to be fiscally responsible and design and improve subway/bus transit, such as they have in European cities.
  3. The goal to reduce air pollution will fail as areas of pollution will simply become more concentrated in upper Manhattan and outer borough locations because of parking outside the congestion pricing area to get mass transit into Manhattan.
  4. The current plan will result in an economic disaster for businesses and working individuals below 62ndStreet. Consider the restaurant and entertainment businesses that depend on workers coming into Manhattan at all hours.  Consider actors, musicians, and other theatre workers who perform in Broadway shows. Many cannot carry their equipment and instruments aboard buses and subways.  Orthey leave Manhattan at early morning hours to return to their homes in the outer boroughs or neighboring suburbs.
  5. The goal is to get more riders on the MTA subways and buses and commuter railroads to increase MTA revenue at a time when hate-based, targeted, and random crime (e.g., knifings, killings, beatings) on NYC subways/buses, and subway derailments fill the news almost every day. Let’s first get this under control before you ask to increase ridership.
  6. Many challenges face the handicapped maneuvering through the current NYC transit system. Oh yes, Congestion Pricing will provide the MTA with funds needed to make many stations accessible to the handicapped. The MTA should have handicap accessibility beforeit imposes congestion pricing.
  7. Consider Seniors requiring medical care in NYC and living in the surrounding boroughs and suburbs: many cannot always take or manage mass transit with the variety of physical challenges they face.
  8. Many groups are asking for waivers: just because they live in Yonkers, or are transit workers, orare handicapped, orare hospital workers, EMTs, Seniors, etc.  If these waivers are granted, who will be left to subsidize the MTA?  Another round of MTA fare and toll bridge increases?

The bottom line is that NYC and suburban taxpayers will be imposed with another tax that will devastate the NYC economy and force New Yorkers to flee their beloved city, leaving the very wealthy and tourists to find a Manhattan bereft of many of the attractions that they thought they would find here.  I ask lawmakers and our NYS and NYC representatives to re-think the timing and design of this plan.

Rhoda Elison Hirsch, Ph.D.
Ossining, New York  10562

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