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MTA conducts final public hearings on congestion pricing

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is nearing the implementation of congestion pricing tolls, with two final public hearings held recently. The plan, which was approved in 2019, entails charging vehicles a minimum of $15 for entering Manhattan below 60th Street. These hearings have seen a diverse array of opinions, with both opposition and support for the toll voiced by attendees.

During the hearings, Queens Councilmember Bob Holden expressed strong opposition, labeling the congestion pricing as “daylight robbery” disguised under the guise of congestion management. Conversely, transportation policy analyst Jason Wagner highlighted the potential benefits, emphasizing the revenue generation to fund essential capital spending amounting to $15 billion.

Despite the varying perspectives presented, the MTA reiterated its commitment to proceed with the program’s implementation. However, the agency assured the public that all testimony would be considered in finalizing exemptions and potential adjustments to the tolling structure. There have been numerous appeals for exemptions, although the MTA has maintained its stance on limiting them to a minimum.

Notably, the program faces legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who alleges discrimination against New Jersey drivers. Elected officials from neighboring states have also voiced their concerns, criticizing the program as a unilateral decision that overlooks the interests of the greater metropolitan area.

The written public comment period is ongoing until March 11, providing individuals with an opportunity to express their opinions formally. Under the proposed plan, car drivers will be charged $15, while trucks and motorcycles will face varying toll rates. The MTA anticipates a final vote before the scheduled implementation in June, pending the resolution of any legal impediments.

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