MTA officials on Wednesday will take a step toward deciding how much it will charge motorists to drive below 60th Street in Manhattan as part of its congestion pricing plan, officials said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board is scheduled to vote at its monthly board meeting on the recommended rates and structure of its Central Business District Tolling Program. The board is expected to largely follow the recommendations of a state-appointed “Traffic Mobility Review Board,” which last week proposed a $15 toll for most drivers.
For at least 60 days following the vote, the MTA will gather input from the public, including at a series of hearings. The plan will then come back to the board for final approval. MTA officials have said they hope to begin charging for the new tolls in the spring.
Ahead of the vote, MTA officials, transit advocates, and Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday rallied in Manhattan in support of congestion pricing, which has been unpopular among drivers outside of Manhattan, including on Long Island, and in New Jersey, where public officials have filed two federal lawsuits aiming to delay or stop the plan.
Plan supporters say by reducing the number of cars in the tolling zone by an expected 17%, congestion price will ease traffic flow, improve air quality, and generate $1 billion in new revenue that will be dedicated to transit infrastructure improvements.
“My friends, this is going to be transformative,” Hochul said at the rally. “We’ll have resources to invest in our system — a 110-year old system — so it’s positioned for the next 110 years.”
At the rally, MTA chairman Janno Lieber unleashed harsh criticism on New Jersey officials trying to obstruct congestion pricing — calling them "traffic deniers” with an "inertia addiction.”
“These are self-styled problem solvers who have never lifted a finger to solve a problem, even when there's a half-finished rail line in their own goddamned district,” Lieber said, referencing vocal congestion pricing critic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a co-chair of the House Problems Solvers Caucus. His district includes Englewood, where the long-planned Hudson-Bergen Light Rail project has stalled.
In a statement, Gottheimer noted that he helped craft the $1 trillion federal infrastructure deal, signed in 2021. “Does Janno Lieber want to send Jersey the $23.6 billion New York is getting?” Gottheimer said.
A New Jersey lawsuit filed in July argued federal regulators ignored the negative impacts new tolls would have on drivers from across the Hudson River. Gov. Phil Murphy's office didn't respond to a request for comment.