Fri. Aug 19th, 2022

Mayor Eric Adams called on the MTA to provide “exemptions” to forthcoming congestion fees planned for Manhattan below 60th Street – even as the MTA’s CEO warned doing so will mean a higher toll for everyone else.

“We need to be clear that there should be a level of exemptions that we should put in place [so] that we’re not overburdening New Yorkers for using our streets, ”Adams said Wednesday at an unrelated press conference in Lower Manhattan.

Adams – who called for congestion pricing exemptions while campaigning for mayor – cited “low-income New Yorkers that must use vehicles” as among those deserving of relief, along with people traveling to chemotherapy treatments.

“It should not be just a blanket of we’re not exempting anyone, and it can not be just city vehicles. I’m open to real conversation, and hear[ing] from those who must use vehicles, ”Hizzoner said. “It’s different from being a luxury [from] a necessity. And there are some cases [where] I believe it is not explicit and I’m open to that conversation. ”

State legislators passed the congestion toll plan in 2019 with three baked-in exemptions – for emergency vehicles, for vehicles carrying disabled New Yorkers and for drivers who live inside the Manhattan congestion zone and make less than $ 60,000 per year.

Eric Adams
Eric Adams called for some exemptions for the upcoming congestion fees to hit downtown Manhattan.
William Farrington

But the Traffic Mobility Review Board that will ultimately set toll rates has the authority to confer more exemptions – and everyone from the Police Benevolent Association and taxi drivers to motorcycle and electric vehicle owners have said they want one.

State law requires the MTA to raise enough toll money to borrow $ 15 billion for its massive capital improvement plan.

Asked about the mayor’s comments on Wednesday, MTA CEO Janno Lieber warned that too many exemptions will require those who are required to pay to pay more.

NYC traffic
The congestion fee plan was passed in Albany in 2019.
James Messerschmidt
Leroy Comrie.
State Sen. Leroy Comrie claimed that there should be no exemptions to the fee.
Dan Herrick

“It has to measure out… [so] there’s enough revenue for the MTA, so that we are able to bond to get $ 15 billion for the capital program, ”he said. “So if there are more exemptions, or more discounts, there will be a higher toll because it has to equal enough revenue to turn into $ 15 billion.”

At least one prominent official – state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Queens), who chairs the committee on public authorities – has said there should be no exemptions at all.

“I do not think there should be any exemptions, and I’m going to continue to say that there should be no exemptions,” Comrie said in January.

“Once you open up that can of worms, you create major problems, because everybody wants to be exempted for something.”

Additional reporting by M’Niyah Lynn


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