Congestion pricing in NYC causes mixed reviews

- Talk of congestion pricing has New Yorkers conflicted. On the one hand, the city is expensive as it is. On the other hand, it could decrease traffic.

The debate has been revisited now that Governor Andrew Cuomo told the New York Times, “congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come,” earlier this month. Cuomo did not provide specifics, but often times congestion pricing plans include tolls on the four East River bridges.

Several elected officials rallied together Sunday morning to protest the idea. “We will not accept tolls on the free East River bridges which have been free since 1911,” says Assemblyman David Weprin. The politicians said the charges would hurt the people of Queens and Brooklyn a huge deal. “There’s something inequitable about charging people to go into a certain area of Manhattan if they’re not from there,” says Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

Director of Move NY Alex Matthiessen has devised a plan he said will help decrease traffic and improve public transportation. The plan is to restore tolls on the East River Bridges and add tolls on 60th Street. In return, Matthiessen said, all seven bridges currently tolled will decrease in price by 35-45%. He said a total of $1.5 billion will be raised annually which should go towards roads, bridges and improving the MTA. “For the first time ever there’s a dedicated city road and bridge fund to make sure it’s in a state of good repair and that’s good for drivers,” Matthiessen explained.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to take a stance on congestion pricing, though his office did say they would review any viable plan the Governor puts forward.

About a decade ago, then mayor Michael Bloomberg offered a similar plan to decease traffic and raise money for Manhattan’s aging infrastructure. The plans were crushed in Albany before it was even brought to a vote.   

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