Congestion pricing plan for cabs, Uber, Lyft, outlined in NY Assembly budget proposal

Cabs and for-hire vehicles operating in Manhattan would shoulder the responsibility of funding fixes for the MTA and other statewide transportation needs under a congestion pricing plan put forth by the New York State Assembly on Monday.

The Assembly’s proposed $76.6 billion 2018-2019 spending plan includes about $500 million in new revenues from the Transportation Sustainability Program, which would be used to fund “certain transportation and MTA initiatives,” according to a news release from Speaker Carl Heastie’s office.

“New Yorkers deserve to have a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system,” Heastie said in a joint statement with Ways and Means Committee chair Helene E. Weinstein. “To help the MTA get there, we’re investing nearly $500 million to fund improvements.”

Part of the new revenue stream is a proposed congestion pricing plan that would charge black cars, limousines and services like Uber and Lyft a $2.75 fee per trip below 96th Street. Trips above 96th Street would be charged $1.

Yellow taxis and street-hailed green cabs, meanwhile, would see a 50-cent charge for trips below 96th Street. The proposal did not include a fee for personal vehicles.

Though Mayor Bill de Blasio has been outspokenly opposed to congestion pricing, a spokesman for the mayor’s office said the administration wouldn’t be against a fee on for-hire vehicles.

“We support instituting a fee on for-hire vehicles as an immediate revenue source to help fund the MTA and get trains moving on time,” spokesman Seth Stein said.

But while Heastie and Weinstein championed the plan, a spokeswoman from Uber said on Tuesday that it “unfairly burdens” New Yorkers who live outside of Manhattan while also creating an uneven playing field for yellow cabs and e-hail car services.

“Instead of incentivizing Manhattan riders to take public transit, the Assembly plan allows them to hail a yellow taxi to avoid higher fees,” spokeswoman Alix Anfang said in an emailed statement. “The only way to address congestion, fully fund the MTA and improve transportation outside of Manhattan is through a comprehensive congestion pricing plan where everyone pays their fair share.”

A task force put together by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who supports the idea of installing congestion pricing as a way to fund fixes for the troubled MTA, announced recommendations in January that included a fee of $11.52 for personal vehicles and a per-trip surcharge between $2 and $5 for taxis and for-hire vehicles.

Under the Fix NYC panel’s recommendations, fees would kick in for personal vehicles at 60th Street, while taxis and for-hire vehicles could see surcharges implemented at 96th Street.

A spokesman for Lyft said New Yorkers deserve to be able to get around the city through a combination of reliable and affordable mass transit and on-demand service options.

“While we’re still reviewing the bill, we believe that any effort to improve New York’s transportation ecosystem must be holistic and ensure that all transportation options remain affordable and convenient,” spokesman Campbell Matthews said on Tuesday.

In total, the Assembly’s budget proposal includes $10.5 billion for the state’s transportation needs. Here’s a breakdown of where the money would be allocated.

  • $490 million would be added to the MTA, bringing the total to $5.3 billion.
  • $335 million would be dedicated to non-MTA downstate transit systems.
  • $221.5 million would be for upstate transit systems.
  • $519.9 million would be set aside for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program.
  • $100 million would go to the Pave NY program.
  • $104.5 million would be for non-MTA downstate and upstate transit capital projects.
  • $3 million would go toward upgrading diesel trains so they meet higher emissions standards.

A request for comment from the Taxi and Limousine Commission regarding the Assembly’s congestion pricing plan was not immediately returned.