MTA’s Congestion Pricing public meetings start Thursday

Congestion pricing remains a contentious issue as Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the State Legislature an ultimatum Tuesday: find a way to fund the MTA, or a fare hike is coming.
File photo

Public meetings begin on Thursday, Sept. 23, to gather feedback about the proposal to toll drivers entering Manhattan at or below 60th Street, also known as congestion pricing.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will hold a total 13 virtual meetings during the next three weeks for the scheme officially dubbed the Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP), targeting different communities in the tri-state area.

First up are New York City’s outer boroughs at 10 a.m., Sept. 23, and later that day there’s another hearing for Manhattan’s so-called Central Business District below 61st Street at 6 p.m. (For a full schedule see below).

MTA will hold meetings in areas of the commuter belts in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, along with three specifically geared toward so-called environmental justice communities in each state.

The proposal

Congestion pricing would charge almost all drivers heading to all streets below 61st Street, except for the FDR Drive, the West Side Highway, and sections of the Battery Park Underpass and Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel that connect to those the FDR and the West Side Highway.

The price has not been set but it would affect almost all cars, trucks, and vehicles in the zone. The exceptions are emergency vehicles, vehicles transporting people with disabilities, or a vehicle belonging to families living in the zone with a household income of $60,000 a year or less.

The proposal promises to rake in $1 billion a year in tolls and would allow MTA to unlock $15 billion in debt financing to fund much-needed upgrades and repairs for its aging public transit system.

The environmental benefits would be reduced air and noise pollution by cars, as well as easing congestion, leading to faster rides for those drivers who still use the roads. 

The toll was already approved by the state legislature in 2019, but was held up for two years under the President Trump Administration.

As part of a federally-mandated review known as an Environmental Assessment, MTA and its two partners, the State Department of Transportation and the City Department of Transportation, have to collect public feedback for the project.

How to tune in and comment

The meetings are all being held via Zoom and will be live-streamed on MTA’s YouTube channel and the new project website at new.mta.info/project/CBDTP

They will feature a brief introduction about the project and the process, followed by public comment.

Those who wish to speak and give a comment of up to two minutes, or require language services, must sign up at 5:30 pm the night before at the website or by calling the dedicated hotline at (646) 252–6777.

The first two meetings already have a high number of people registered to speak, so MTA encourages those living outside the areas designated during those hearings to opt for the date set for their place of residence.

Meetings are scheduled to last two hours, but MTA may run over time if speakers need more.

Those who can’t attend a meeting but still want to provide comment can do so online at the website, send an email to CBDTP@mtabt.org, call (646) 252–7440, or send a letter to:

CBD Tolling Program
2 Broadway, 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10004

Schedule for the 10 regional meetings:

  • Thursday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to noon: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island
  • Thursday, Sept. 23, 6-8 p.m.: Manhattan Central Business District (60th Street and below)
  • Friday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to noon: New Jersey
  • Wednesday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m. to noon: Northern New York City Suburbs
  • Wednesday, Sept. 29, 6-8 p.m.: Long Island
  • Thursday, Sept. 30, 6-8 p.m.: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island
  • Friday, Oct. 1, 1-3 p.m.: Connecticut
  • Monday, Oct. 4, 6-8 p.m.: New Jersey
  • Tuesday, Oct. 5, 6-8 p.m.: Northern New York City suburbs
  • Wednesday, Oct. 6, 6-8 p.m.: Manhattan outside the Central Business District (61st Street and above)

Environmental justice community meetings:

  • Thursday, Oct. 7, 6-8 p.m.: New York
  • Tuesday, Oct. 12, 6-8 p.m.: New Jersey
  • Wednesday, Oct. 13, 6-8 p.m.: Connecticut