Foes and Fans of Congestion Pricing Sound Off at Final Public Hearings

The nation’s first congestion-pricing program could go into effect in New York City as soon as this spring.

New York Times

By Erin Nolan | March 4, 2024

On Monday, hundreds of people voiced their opinions on the final day to weigh in on one of the most sweeping — and contentious — transportation projects in New York City in decades.

Transit officials held public hearings to hear feedback on the nation’s first congestion-pricing plan, which officials hope will reduce traffic in one of the world’s busiest commercial districts and raise money for public transportation. The plan, expected to take effect as soon as this spring, would charge most drivers a $15 toll for entering much of Manhattan below 60th Street.

Transit leaders have reminded opponents that the final public comment hearings were about possibly fine tuning the details of the congestion-pricing program, not debating its merits. But that didn’t stop some people from voicing their passionate disapproval.

While supporters often cite quicker emergency vehicle response times as a key argument in favor of congestion pricing, Oren Barzilay, the president of a local union representing fire inspectors and emergency medical workers, said the tolling plan would “bring financial ruin” to many emergency workers who rely on personal vehicles for work.

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