Manhattan borough president unveils plan to speed up congestion pricing rollout

New York’s congestion pricing plan has faced delay after delay, despite being approved by state lawmakers 3 years ago. It's still over a year away from being implemented and officials have yet to release a plan for how it will work.

"We can’t have the city taxed if a firetruck goes through," Mayor Eric Adams said at a press event recently.

While there will be exemptions, officials are still figuring out who and which vehicles the new changes will apply to. But while they decide, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine says he’s already got a plan.

"If you are a New Yorker who has been late for work because your train was not on time, you need congestion pricing," Levine said.

For those who don’t remember, congestion pricing is a plan to charge drivers who enter Manhattan below 60th Street a fee. That fee has not yet been determined but could range from 9 to 23 dollars.

The goal is to encourage more people to take public transportation in order to cut down on traffic while also directing this extra revenue toward making much-needed repairs to the transit system.

"Some of our buses are unable to accommodate wheelchair users accessing a bus independently," Dr. Sharon McLennon-Wier, Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York explained. "That is unacceptable. We know that a bus system can be fixed."

Levine’s plan includes making tolls variable, so smaller cars could pay less, make taxis exempt and reduce the cost of tolls during off-peak hours.

It also includes implementing all-door boarding on buses citywide to cut down on travel time and allowing for more pedal assist Citi bikes.

According to the MTA - congestion pricing is supposed to go into effect in the fall of 2023, but as Levine points out, there is a lot still unanswered.

"We are in part raising these important policy issues now because we don't want to fight over these questions which would delay us further," Levine said.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis blasted the city’s congestion pricing plan and introduced an amendment in Congress that would prohibit federal dollars from being used in a plan like this unless an economic impact study is completed and published first.