Congestion pricing in New York City paused ‘indefinitely’

June 5, 2024

Tyson Fisher

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In an unexpected turn of events, New York City’s controversial congestion pricing plan has been delayed indefinitely, just a few weeks before toll collection was scheduled to begin.

On Wednesday, June 5, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that she had ordered the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to “indefinitely pause” New York City’s congestion pricing plan. The city was scheduled to begin the program on June 30.

During her announcement, Hochul cited the increasingly high prices of groceries, housing, childcare and other costs of living as reasons behind her decision to delay congestion pricing.

“Our policies must support everyday New Yorkers like our small-business people, police officers, firefighters, teachers, healthcare workers, truck drivers and not add to their financial burdens,” she said.

Approved by the state legislature in 2019, plans for the congestion pricing program began during pre-pandemic conditions when more workers were in the office and tourism was at record highs, the governor noted. The tolling plan was supposed to encourage motorists to switch to public transit.

Since then, more employees have begun working from home. Additionally, inflation caused by the pandemic has led consumers to be more cautious in their spending. Congestion pricing could be the final straw for some New Yorkers in deciding whether to enter the city.

“Circumstances have changed, and we must respond to the facts on the ground, not from the rhetoric five years ago,” Hochul said. “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.”

Hochul added that she plans to work with local, state and federal leaders in the coming months to find a way to “achieve the objectives of congestion pricing without putting undue strain on already-stressed New Yorkers.”

Federal lawsuits

The decision to delay congestion pricing in New York City comes as MTA faces numerous federal lawsuits challenging the legality of the program. In fact, Hochul mentioned the lawsuits when explaining MTA has been prepared for the possibility of delays.

Less than a week ago, the Trucking Association of New York filed the latest lawsuit in a New York federal court. In its lawsuit, the trucking association focuses specifically on the congestion pricing fees against trucks. The plan has been for truckers to be charged as much as $54 each time they enter the Central Business District. The planned rate for passenger vehicles, on the other hand, is no more than $22.50 and capped at one toll fee per day.

That lawsuit was the seventh federal lawsuit challenging the congestion pricing plan. The other six lawsuits all have similar arguments regarding the environmental review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act. They were filed by:

  • Rockland County, N.Y.
  • United Federation of Teachers
  • Mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.
  • Residents of Manhattan’s Battery Park City neighborhood
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy
  • New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing Tax LL