Press "Enter" to skip to content

Editorial: For whom the congestion pricing tolls

Jimi Hendrix sang about trying to break through “Crosstown Traffic” — but that was nearly 60 years ago, long before more than 80,000 Uber and Lyft app-hail cabs compounded New York City’s congestion chaos.

The Big Apple’s first-in-the nation congestion-pricing plan is currently being challenged by numerous lawsuits, and it remains to be seen if anything from these will stick. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is set to kick off the fees in late June.

After the M.T.A. on March 27 finalized the toll-pricing structure, Tribeca-based transportation guru Charles Komanoff trumpeted, “NY congestion pricing is a big deal…changing the twin paradigms of motordom and polluter impunity.”

Yet, now even former Governor Cuomo, who initiated the plan, says it has not been adequately studied — and is calling for a full environmental impact statement, or E.I.S. We agree. There are simply too many questions about potential negative impacts, including traffic displacement and economic hardship for both residents and businesses, particularly those in the zone.

Of course, Cuomo — apparently mulling a political comeback — is also tapping into public sentiment among a large faction of New Yorkers. Naturally, he would not be doing it unless the opposition was significant.

Ideally, the $1 billion raised annually by CP for the M.T.A. really would improve subway and bus service, leading to faster, safer mass transit. However, the M.T.A. is viewed — and rightly so — by many as a black hole for taxpayer dollars.

Also, the number of high-profile violent and deadly incidents in recent years has scared off many from using the subway. The idea that CP will make some drivers switch to mass transit seems wishful thinking until subway safety is vastly improved.

In 2023, fare evasion alone cost the M.T.A. $700 million — a problem both the M.T.A. and police must tackle. That amount, in fact, nears the annual revenue CP is meant to raise.

While CP advocates note most New Yorkers don’t own cars, and that drivers tend to be wealthier — and so could eat the toll — there’s no question this plan would disrupt and financially impact many thousands of residents’ lives, in particular, those who live in the so-called Central Business District — shockingly defined as all of Manhattan south of 60th Street. This area, in fact, has some of the world’s most iconic residential neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village, the East Village, Lower East Side and, yes, Soho, too. Seemingly responding to criticism, the M.T.A. has now quietly changed its name to…the Congestion Relief Zone.

Meanwhile, unlike in New York City, residents living in London’s CP zone get a 90 percent discount. Also, as opposed to here, in London there was no target revenue amount that was set, so there is flexibility on the toll fee. That seems like a better idea to us.

Interesting to note, despite its congestion charge, London — partly due to its ancient infrastructure and layout — continues to be the most congested city in the world.

In addition, the M.T.A.’s traffic data for its CP studies was collected pre-pandemic, and New York City traffic and transit use have changed significantly since then. Manhattan office occupancy remains only around 50 percent.

Meanwhile, app-hail companies, like Uber and Lyft, stand to profit immensely by this plan. There is a radical reshaping of transportation going on in New York City. As critics say, “Follow the money.”

The M.T.A. plans to reassess CP after a year or so. But, we agree with the main premise of the community lawsuit, whose plaintiffs include a number of familiar Downtown activists, represented by attorney Jack Lester: CP’s environmental and economic impacts should have been fully studied beforehand — in a full-scale E.I.S., as opposed to a less-rigorous environmental impact assessment, or E.A.S., which was all that was done.

Still, we support CP’s goals: cleaner air, quieter and safer streets (what about the ever-growing number of e-bikes, though?) faster mass transit, fewer cars in our residential district.

Tom Fox, an urban-planning visionary who helped create Hudson River Park, backs CP. As for Lower East Side activists’ concerns that it will increase pollution and traffic along the F.D.R. Drive, as the E.A.S. maintains, Fox — who also founded New York Water Taxi — countered: “There won’t be more pollution. The wind blows from the west.”

Wind patterns or not, though, congestion pricing certainly seems like a leap of faith — especially when done without an E.I.S.


  1. Carol from East 5th Street Carol from East 5th Street April 1, 2024

    Congestion? Get rid of the 84,000 Uber & Lyft cars in NYC. Every third car in Manhattan has a “T” in its license plate. Long live yellow cabs!
    Need money? Stop allowing fare-beating, which cost the MTA $960,000 last year. I remember when bus drivers refused to continue driving if someone didn’t pay their fare.

  2. Steve Steve March 31, 2024

    “Meanwhile, unlike in New York City, residents living in London’s CP zone get a 90 percent discount.”

    London residents are charged simply for driving inside the zone.

    New York City residents who drive within the zone won’t be charged at all.

    That’s a key difference the author conveniently omits.

  3. David M Markowitz David M Markowitz March 31, 2024


  4. JacDog JacDog March 31, 2024

    The lack of an environmental impact study was perpetrated on Vision Zero.
    Vision Zero heavily influenced the congestion. The congestion then setting up the TAX. The consciousless process designed to implement Placemaking X — founded by Fred Kent, Co-Flounder of Transportation Alternatives, along with Charles “the sophist” Komanoff. The result — privatiztion of public space, increasing cost of living, Making NYC a “luxury destination”. Where people like Michael R. Bloomberg — who have little to offer but money — can feel important.
    The Village Sun is providing the best reporting on this issue the city has to offer.

  5. JacDog JacDog March 31, 2024

    The Apple is in the midst of a pre-Katrina-like period of New Orleans. Characterized by corrupt and inept politicians put into office by an
    ignorant electorate. What NOLA did after “The Big One” was change the electorate. Elected competent politicians- Mayor Landrieu, for one –
    and saved the city.
    Recall that Mayor Bloomberg said he wanted New York City to become a “LUXURY DESTINATION”. What we have is the worst congestion in the nation. Abject bail reform. A migrant influx. The highest rents in the nation.
    A public safety crisis with lawless cyclists and micro-transport. Corrupt and inept politicians put into office by a majority of narcissistic and ignorant voters.
    What to do? Send some of the deserving pols to prison. Take the needles out of arms. Heads out of rectums. Support the NYPD and pragmatic policies.
    The public has been screwed by arrogant zealots like Charles Komanoff, concerned with feeding his hubris and displaying a reckless disregard for fellow New Yorkers.

    Let’s hope it won’t take “a big one” to right the city ship.

  6. Alan Frick Alan Frick March 31, 2024

    As a former NYer who left after 45 years because the lefty politicians chased us out with riots, crime, homeless and taxes, I cannot wait to watch them continue to destroy this city. Every “non-car” resident who cheers on this congestion charge will soon be blaming “corporations and greed” for higher prices on everything that needs to be delivered by truck.

  7. LK LK March 31, 2024

    The idea that because the majority don’t have cars, therefore all people should eliminate cars (unless you are a private for-profit corporate entity like Uber or Lyft) is a totally undemocratic idea. There are a lot of things that do not have a majority, that we have. The majority do not ride a bike so we should not have bike lanes. The majority don’t take elevators in subways so we should not have them. The majority do not have a child in public school so we should not pay for them. The majority don’t need an ambulance therefore we should not have them, etc… The country is not based on the needs of the majority, it is based on the need of the individual. So stop saying this nonsense, lobbyest-created talking point!

    • Jimbo Jimbo April 1, 2024

      Pedophile scum like you don’t belong in NYC. You pro-car people are nothing vermin. Go move to Texas if you want to drive cars so much, you subhuman bastard.

    • Miggie Warms Miggie Warms April 1, 2024

      Exactly. The majority elected officials, but part of their job, once elected, is to protect the minority(ies). That is the basis of our democracy and is how it has gradually evolved. Now, the “progressive” minority is promoting REGRESSIVE policies that ignore the needs of many elderly and/or disabled residents. Ironically, many of those “progressives” and their supporters will eventually become elderly or disabled, should they live long enough to achieve that status.

  8. MSA MSA March 30, 2024

    Per earlier article about CP, I’d appreciate information about how Mr. Komanoff’s mother-in-law (referenced in the photo in the previous Village Sun) gets around?
    Bicycle? Bus? Subway? Access a Ride? Taxi? Uber? Other?

    I think it is a fair question.

  9. Choresh Wald Choresh Wald March 30, 2024

    Congestion pricing will benefit the vast majority of people who live in our area: The daily users of the M14 bus will enjoy a faster ride on Grand Street instead of being stuck on the bus behind single occupied vehicles. 80% of area residents don’t own vehicles and are never represented in the articles and editorials regarding congestion pricing, just the handful of car owners.

  10. Ron Wisniski Ron Wisniski March 30, 2024

    This too shall pass (I hope). Even if I were as rich as the hedge-fund leeches behind all of these apps and e-things, I wouldn’t pay these craven middlemen a red cent either by ordering food or a car. As a lifelong union member big city Democrat, I continue to be shocked at how quickly almost all of our electeds started parading in lockstep to the commands of their Transportation Alternatives masters. Weak doesn’t begin to describe them. Teddy Roosevelt would say that they have the “backbone of a chocolate eclair” and would call these companies “malefactors of great wealth.” By the way, did you know TR was once considered such a great man, a heroic statue of him stood at the entrance of the Museum of Natural History? That is until some of these same fools tore it down.

  11. Mar Mar March 30, 2024

    So if Uber and Lyft are big offenders of congestion, why are they being given a discount on the congestion charges? They are not going to be charged the $15 dollars every time they cross that boundary but the residents of southern Manhattan sure will.

    • S R S R March 31, 2024

      It’s only one change per day for cars and trucks, whereas Uber will ‘surcharge’ riders an extra $2.50 per ride in zone, taxis $1.50 per ride in zone. This is a regressive tax which will drive out more middle-class residents, the wealthy will complain but be unaffected other than enjoying slightly reduced traffic. I’m hoping this fails dramatically and it gets revoked after it crashes a season of Broadway.

    • FMradio FMradio March 31, 2024

      It’s easy. It’s not about congestion. It’s not about pollution. It’s a concerted plan to remove private vehicles from the road. Much of the current congestion is planned by the city. For instance, removing entire lanes from 2-lane streets or allowing permits to close 2 lanes of a 4-lane avenue for building construction. Building a bus stop in the middle of 3rd Avenue. All of this is purposefully done to constrict traffic.

      • Soren Soren April 1, 2024

        Hear hear! This is the exact cause of worsening congestion – it’s a concerted effort by city government to cause delays to justify their new tax. Otherwise why would you eliminate rush hour parking restrictions, install unused bike racks in the middle of avenues or on side street corners where left turn lanes should be, etc.? And don’t forget the lack of enforcement of double parking rules all over Manhattan! The side effect of all this is congestion to justify this new tax is a big one: further reduction in public safety. As a 9-11 survivor I recall too well the risks of terrorist attacks. By constraining traffic flow, politicians and DOT bureaucrats are stopping the Police, EMS and Fire heroes from doing their jobs, esp in a mass event. And I fear that many thousands of us will suffer the ultimate consequences.

  12. Satory Satory March 30, 2024

    Once again the people end up taking it in the butt.

  13. redbike redbike March 29, 2024

    First, a non-trivial quibble about usage: it’s *public* transit, not mass transit. Emphasizing: this is NOT trivial.

    Second, a reminder — to both The Village Sun and to its readers: your editorial properly calls out Uber as one of the major contributors to congestion. You fail to note (perhaps because it’s one of your advertisers?) Uber Eats is a major delivery app. Uber treats its drivers — both ride-share drivers and deliveristas — as independent contractors. These workers should be treated as employees, something NY State’s Legislature could do by amending NY State’s labor law to define their status as just that — employees — rather than independent contractors. Employers (e.g.: FedEx, UPS, USPS) provide and maintain company vehicles. Even more important: Employers are responsible for how their employees operate company vehicles.

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | March 29, 2024

      If you have seen any Uber Eats ads on The Village Sun, they come from Google or InfoLinks and are “served” to our site. They are not ads that we directly solicited. And calling out Uber is pretty much equivalent to calling out Uber Eats, right? And…honestly, people can really just go out and pick up their own food, it’s healthier all around…and, yes, causes less congestion, too. P.S., of course, if you are seeing Uber Eats ads on The Village Sun, then that’s probably because you use Uber Eats — so it’s a “targeted” or “personal interest” ad.

      • redbike redbike March 29, 2024

        I appreciate the reply; thanks. Interesting how ads automagically appear. FYI: I’ve never – EVER – had food – or groceries delivered. You’re right: I “…just go out and pick up [my] own food, it’s healthier all around…and, yes, causes less congestion, too”.

        • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | March 29, 2024

          Uber Eats (or the AI or whatever) may think you are a potential user. You may somehow fit the “right” demographic or profile, etc. (at least in “their” mind, which may be an AI, or who knows).

        • Pete Pete March 29, 2024

          What a sad life to have never had food delivered.

          • sam sam April 1, 2024

            On the other hand, seems sad to hear various millennial and Gen Z acquaintances from the suburbs who seem to think that NYC’s most amazing feature is instant gratification food delivery and that they can get drunk without needing to drive.

Leave a Reply

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.