Congestion Pricing is Not a Solution to NYC Gridlock

A Column from the Desk of Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (R,C-Deerpark)

Congestion pricing is a term we’ve heard coming out of New York City and the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) for a couple of years now, but it’s never been as real a problem as it just became this week. The MTA board has unilaterally voted to approve the move to set out-of-city prices for travelers or commuters going to anywhere in Manhattan from 60th Street and below, with the area concluding at the southern tip of the Financial District. Proponents of this move argue it’s a measure that will reduce traffic and pollution with fewer cars traveling through the area, while at the same time generating more money for the city’s transit system. And while this measure might have been borne from a desire to do good, a number of workers who travel to and from New York City are about to be unfairly punished.

That’s because the current plan set forth by the MTA stipulates that any passenger vehicles that do not belong to a resident of New York City will be charged an additional $15 for entry into Lower Manhattan on top of the already-existing toll fees. Commercial trucks will be charged between $24-$36 depending on their cargo and size, and motorcycles would be charged $7.50. Even local taxi drivers, Uber, Lyft and other rideshare drivers will see a price increase for their trips down south. It’s a measure that’s rightfully facing pushback, as it unfairly punishes loyal and hardworking New Yorkers (and even commuters from New Jersey) who are just trying to do their jobs in the city.

And the same can be said for many residents in Orange and Rockland County. Whether you’re traveling for work, to see family or even a day trip into the city, you will likely be expected to pay additional fees if you commute with your personal vehicle. The prices currently set are unfairly high, especially for frequent or consistent travelers, and will likely require many workers to consider new job opportunities, which places them in an unfair position. The governor may support this move in the name of quieter streets and cleaner air, but I don’t feel comfortable achieving that at the expense of the hardworking women and men of this state. And that is why I am against the measure and any future congestion pricing measures.