HICKSVILLE, N.Y. - Robert Katz dispatches over 80 cars each day on Long Island. If and when Manhattan congestion pricing goes into effect, the owner of Hicksville Taxi and Airport Transportation will have no choice but to pass additional charges down to the customer.
"Having to tack on an extra $23 bucks, that money could go to my drivers' tips or that money can go to my customers' savings," he said.
Taxi, bus and for-hire drivers on Long Island are pushing to be exempt from congestion pricing tolls. They say they've already taken a hit from higher gas prices and worry they'll have less work if the plan is put in place.
The MTA says that for-hire vehicles contribute to congestion in Manhattan, which affects the air quality and slows down the economy. The MTA suggests that tolls can be paid by the passenger, not by the driver.
However, Uber and similar companies say they've paid close to $1 billion in congestion fees so far and any additional tax on future trips threatens to put tens of thousands of drivers out of work.
LIRR Commuter Council chair Gerard Bringmann called congestion pricing an all-around win. He said he believes the plan will unclog city streets, increase ridership on mass transit, and generate needed funding for transit infrastructure improvements.
"Manhattan streets are increasingly becoming more congested," Bringmann said. "Right now they're back to pre-pandemic levels while commuter rails and subways are 60 to 65% of what they were pre-pandemic."
If approved, the congestion toll plan could take effect by the end of 2023. Written comments on congestion pricing can be submitted through Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, on the MTA's website, by phone (646-252-7440), via e-mail (CBDTP@mtabt.org), by postal mail (CBD Tolling Program, 2 Broadway, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10004), or by fax (212-504-3148).