NEW YORK - On the off-chance you've been living in a pothole in the four years since it passed the state’s legislature, congestion pricing is the plan that would charge motorists between $9 and $23 for entering Manhattan's central business district, which is south of 60th Street.
Advocates say the plan will bring in $15 billion for the MTA.
Next Monday, the Traffic Mobility Review Board, the arm of the MTA that will determine the rules, will meet once again. They’re the ones who—along with the Board-- will ultimately decide who pays what and who may be exempt.
There are 122 entities that— throughout the public comment period-- have emerged from commenters as ideas for who should be exempt. There is no telling how many of those-- or whether any at all-- will actually be granted an exemption.
But some companies have been lobbying, or spending money to influence government policy, to make sure they're on the final list.
According to disclosure forms provided to the New York State Commission on Ethics, rideshare company Uber appears dozens of times. Lyft appears even more. UPS showed up more than a dozen times.
Those three may not surprise you. But also on the list of lobbyists: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
"People are looking to get exemptions for themselves and their private interests," said Rachael Fauss, a policy adviser for government watchdog Reinvent Albany, which also appears on disclosure forms as they are in support of congestion pricing. "But it's not it's not just the MTA that's being targeted. It's all the elected officials who might also try to influence the process."
Fauss says there's one key piece of information to keep in mind when it comes to exemptions.
"The more carve-outs or the more exemptions, the higher the toll is going to actually be for everybody else."
Opponents, like New Jersey lawmakers, argue the program's environmental assessment was insufficient. But there appears to be little hope in that legal fight stopping the process: the infrastructure-- like toll gantries on both the east and wise sides of Manhattan-- is already up.