Press "Enter" to skip to content

Highway to hell — or heaven? Congestion pricing hits roadblocks

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | With America’s first-ever congestion pricing plan set to start in June, intense pushback is building — notably including from the man who originally set the scheme in motion, former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In addition, four city councilmembers — Carlina Rivera, Christopher Marte, Erik Bottcher and Keith Powers — representing Downtown and Lower Manhattan recently quietly expressed their concern about the toll plan’s impact on residents living in the congestion zone — all of Manhattan south of 60th Street. Under the plan, all of this area is officially deemed the Central Business District — though locals living in much of it have always considered it simply to be…their home.

Basically, the politicians asked that transit improvements funded by the new toll should be first made in the CBD before other parts of the city, and also that there be a deeper residential discount program than the limited one currently planned.

In a March 7 letter to Janno Leiber, the M.T.A. chairperson and C.E.O., the four pols wrote, “As representatives of residents who live below 60th street and in the heart of the Central Business District, the successful implementation of congestion pricing and a program that is equitable to our constituents is a top priority for us. … [W]e ask that the finalized regulations focus on addressing residents’ concerns in the program’s immediate impact area, including a residential discount program and allocating funds towards projects and programming to improve the Central Business District transportation network. … [U]sing the revenue generated [by congestion pricing] to address the Central Business District transit network first would go a long way in alleviating the growing pains during the shift away from their current methods of transportation.”

However, Lower East Side activist Tommy Loeb, a plaintiff in a community lawsuit against congestion pricing, panned the letter as “late to the game after all decisions have been made and no plan to make change. Classic cover your a–.”

Lots of lawsuits

Meanwhile, the lawsuit to which Loeb is a party, plus several ones by other plaintiffs — including by New Jersey, the United Federation of Teachers, the Staten Island borough president and the N.A.A.C.P. — are all pending.

On March 11, in an opinion piece in the New York Post, former Governor Cuomo flat-out declared it was “time to hit the brakes” on congestion pricing. As governor, he advocated for the novel traffic plan, signing it into law in 2019. But now he says he opposes it — at least at this moment.

“Many things have changed since 2019 and while it is the right public policy, we must seriously consider if now is the right time to enact it,” Cuomo said. “New York City still hasn’t recovered from COVID; office occupancy is still at only 48.9 percent. For many, traveling to the city is no longer a necessity — and for some it is an unwelcome hardship.

“What impact will an additional $15 entry surcharge have on New York City’s recovery in this moment — when the migrant crisis, crime, homelessness, quality of life and taxes are all pressing problems?

“More important, the policy’s success hinges on people’s confidence that mass transit — which is still operating 29 percent below pre-pandemic ridership levels — is a safe alternative.”

In his column, Cuomo also slammed “local leaders” for not demanding an independent environmental impact study for the scheme or insisting that the revenue raised be “put in a lock box for more transit police” and for stopping fare beaters, who are draining millions from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority each year, he noted.

Cuomo comeback?

Charles Komanoff, a leading advocate for New York City congestion pricing, for one, was disappointed by Cuomo’s aboutface. There are rumblings Cuomo is eying a possible run for mayor.

“I think it’s ill-timed, ill-conceived and ill-fated,” Komanoff said. “The sad thing is he’s desperately trying to stay politically relevant. And seeing the jitters [about congestion pricing], he’s thinking it may help him. But it won’t stop congestion pricing.”

Transportation guru Charlie Komanoff, 76, outside Ess-a-Bagel at Peter Cooper Village, where he had just biked to drop off his homemade chili to his mother-in-law, after having pedaled from his home in Tribeca to the Upper West Side to visit his sister. His final leg would be back to Tribeca. (Photo by The Village Sun)

A Harvard-educated Tribeca resident who “refounded” Transportation Alternatives in 1986, Komanoff prides himself on his “Balanced Transportation Analyzer,” an Excel spreadsheet that can spit out 160,000 “equations.” On Oct. 10, 2017, at a high-powered meeting at the Empire State Building, at their request, he presented the device to Cuomo staffers and the city and state Department of Transportation and M.T.A., to help them, as he said, “frame” the congestion pricing plan, convincing them to move ahead with the bold idea.

Komanoff called Cuomo “brilliant” for deciding to set a firm “revenue target” for the M.T.A. under the plan. That means the toll rates can’t really be lowered and exemptions must be kept to a minimum.

“If you’re going to raise a billion dollars a year, it has to bite,” Komanoff said. “It means it’s going to price some drivers off the road — and that’s going to decrease traffic.”

As for the resistance, he shrugged, “The same thing happened in London and Stockholm. Within a year, it’s going to be accepted.”

Other laws that “upended the status quo,” as he put it, from the pooper scooper law to the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, were eventually accepted as part of everyday life, as the traffic fee will be, too, Komanoff assured.

“Congestion pricing is like a slam dunk for New York City,” he enthused. “Trucks will come in faster and have fewer parking tickets. There’ll be less traffic, less honking, less aggression.”

Small trucks will pay a $24 congestion toll, large ones $36. All overnight rates would be 75 percent less.

‘To raise a billion a year, it has to bite.’

— Charles Komanoff

Komanoff basically accused the plan’s opponents of ignorance.

“It’s sad,” he said. “They don’t know how to run [traffic] numbers, they haven’t run the numbers. This is not a back-of-the-envelope thing.

‘Some will take a hit’

“A few hundred or a few thousand people will take a hit,” he conceded. “Some will have to dig into their pockets and pay — but they will get a faster commute, fewer traffic snarls, more places to park.”

For residents in the zone who use their cars for work, such as to carry equipment or tools to jobs around the metro area, Komanoff said to get creative. For example, they could “store” tools at spots outside the zone or double up their loads to make fewer trips.

Told that, East Villager Chris Ryan, a movie technician who is married to former City Council candidate Allie Ryan and is another plaintiff in the community lawsuit, hit the roof.

“I literally have a small futon mattress, heater, extension cord and changes of clothing in my vehicle due to the odd, unpredictable hours, weather conditions, safety concerns and scenarios I face,” he said. “I rarely know what borough I will land in — ranging from Staten Island Boy Scout camps to Far Rockaway beaches, the Bronx and everything in between — and often don’t know what county or state we will be working in. But no matter where I go, I return home to the Central Business District residential zone and get billed $15. And 3 to 5 grand a year is not a simple inconvenience for a working-class family of four.”

London calling?

While residents in London’s congestion zone get a 90 percent toll discount, Komanoff said that would not work here.

“There’s five times as many people” in Manhattan’s congestion zone as London’s, he said, noting, “If you were to do that, you’d be taking away a noticeable chunk of the [M.T.A.] revenue.”

In addition, drivers from the boroughs would complain that an exemption for Manhattanites living in the zone was unfair, Komanoff said, calling it “bad optics.”

“They would resent it,” he said. “It would be untenable.”

The plan is that New Yorkers who earn less than $60,000 annually can apply for a tax credit to offset the congestion toll.

Another oft-heard complaint is that elderly or other New Yorkers who need to drive to hospital appointments, for example, will be socked by congestion pricing. To which the transit advocate said, “Most of ’em can take a bus or train. If they’re driving grandma to Sloan Kettering for chemo or whatever, the trip is only going to take 20 minutes instead of 40 — and that’s going to be good for grandma sitting in the front seat.”

Business impact

But others, like Susan Lee of New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing Tax, another community lawsuit plaintiff, warn of the traffic toll’s impact on businesses, specifically restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown. In response, Komanoff did a study, holding a clipboard outside Great N.Y. Noodletown, at 28 Bowery, during lunchtime one day last May. In a half hour, 32 diners came on foot or by subway, three by bike and two by car or taxi. He admitted it was a nice spring day, which encouraged walking and biking.

Susan Lee of New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing Tax, speaking, above, and former Councilmember Kathryn Freed, to the left of her, railed against the planned Manhattan traffic toll at a protest outside City Hall earlier this year. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Basically, Komanoff said he has studied Manhattan congestion pricing exhaustively and is confident it’s the right call.

“I know more about this thing — its benefits — than anyone on the planet,” he declared.

Of course, a major reason for New York City’s congestion has been the explosion of for-hire vehicles, such as Uber and Lyft, over the past decade. This has flooded the streets with around 80,000 vehicles, many of them plying Manhattan’s CBD. In fact, in 2019, according to New York City D.O.T., FHV’s comprised a whopping 30 percent of “Manhattan core traffic.” Last October, City Hall tried to exempt electric vehicles from the FHV cap, but a temporary restraining order is blocking that move, thanks to a lawsuit by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Komanoff filed an affidavit in support of the lawsuit.

TransAlt’s take

Transportation Alternatives, the group Komanoff revived in the ’80s, is one of the biggest supporters of congestion pricing.

Emily Jacobi, T.A.’s Manhattan organizer, said, “New York City is the most traffic-congested city in the United States — and this congestion fills our air with pollutants, harms our pedestrians and bike riders, traps our emergency vehicles in car traffic, and costs our metro area well over $20 billion annually. The status quo is deeply inequitable — especially for lower-income New Yorkers or New Yorkers of color, who are less likely to own cars and significantly more likely to ride transit to work. With fewer cars in the Central Business District, it will be easier for shipping and freight to make more deliveries in less time, ambulances to speed to hospitals, and workers who rely on cars to work more efficiently. New York City must implement congestion pricing now because driving a personal vehicle into Manhattan comes with real costs for everyone — especially our youngest and oldest New Yorkers, who are especially impacted by traffic crashes and asthma from car exhaust.”

Former Councilmember Kathryn Freed, who is also part of the class-action lawsuit against congestion pricing, agrees with Cuomo that now is not the time for the scheme.

“Yeah, he’s saying everything we’ve been saying,” Freed shrugged of Cuomo’s op-ed.

As for Komanoff, she retorted, “Charlie doesn’t understand because it’s not his air and his health that are being impacted.”

L.E.S. traffic increase

As Freed wrote in a talking point in The Village Sun this past December, congestion pricing actually would increase traffic and pollution on the Lower East Side along the F.D.R. Drive between the Brooklyn Bridge and E. 10th Street, since the Drive — like the West Side Highway — would not be tolled.

“I do have 9/11-related respiratory problems. If he knew that his air quality was going to get 19 to 26 percent worse, he might be a little concerned about it,” she said of Komanoff. “Why is it always the areas that are people of color or where people are older who always get screwed?”

She added, “Allowing the 85,000 Ubers to drive in this area for free — they will be polluting.”

Meanwhile, the Lower East Side, where Freed, who is also a retired judge, lives on Grand Street is a transit desert. It’s at least a 15-minute walk for her to reach a subway station (Delancey/Essex Street, which does not have an elevator and is not scheduled to get one). Plus, she feels the transit system currently is not even safe.

‘People are afraid to go into the subways.’

— Kathryn Freed

Subway safety

“Just last week, three people got pushed in front of the subway,” she said. “The problem is a lot of people are afraid to go into the subways. I won’t go into the subway at night, I’m an older woman. There are so many people with mental problems. We need to solve that problem before people go back into the subways.”

Like others, Freed is skeptical that the M.T.A. would even make good use of the congestion revenue. She noted some recent agency clunkers on everything from supposedly fare-beater-proof turnstiles that failed to new subway cars without doors in between them — meaning no escape from disruptive or reeking passengers.

“Does anyone really expect these guys to come up with a proposal that works?” she asked.

A newly installed congestion-pricing tolling gantry on the Upper East Side at Second Avenue and 60th Street. (NealReedPhotography)

Meanwhile, Freed continued, people who have automobiles in Manhattan have them for a purpose.

“They have cars because they have relatives to visit or for medical visits,” she noted. “It’s not easy to drive a car in Manhattan. I drove a cab for a while. I lasted like nine months. People drive in the city when they have a reason — you don’t do it for fun.”

Like others, Freed warned congestion pricing will spark an exodus.

“The middle class will leave,” she said. “They showed that they’ll leave during COVID. What are they turning Manhattan into? A place for healthy young people who can ride bikes, who can walk a mile to the subway. Anyone who has a disability, anyone who is older is going to leave.”

Komanoff suggested Freed just “get a beater” bike to ride to the subway. However, she has a condition that makes it unsafe for her to bicycle.

M.T.A. not bending

Regarding the community lawsuit, Jack Lester, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the M.T.A. is not compromising.

“The M.T.A. is adamantly opposed to any sort of settlement,” he said.

Lester said five cases against congestion pricing — two from New Jersey, three from New York — were recently combined in a New Jersey court.

“The magistrate asked that everyone submit proposals, which we did,” he said. “She reported to us that the M.T.A is against any settlement.”

The New York City community lawsuit’s key point is that a full environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., for congestion pricing must be done.

The attorney said the toll would be “devastating” for people on fixed incomes or living paycheck to paycheck — and that this should have been studied under an E.I.S.

“The problem with saying most people who have cars are wealthy is there’s no data to support that,” Lester said. “What about an E.M.S. worker, teacher, musician? The number of people that will be horrendously impacted is endless.” Without an E.I.S., he said, “We can’t point to any statistics that will tell you exactly what the impacts will be.”

According to city D.O.T., in 2019 half of all vehicle trips into the Manhattan CBD were by those earning $100,000 or more, with only 5 percent earning under $25,000.

‘E.I.S. is essential’

Instead of an E.I.S., the M.T.A. only conducted a less-rigorous Environmental Assessment Statement, or E.A.S.

Meanwhile, Lester said, other revenue-raising alternatives for the M.T.A., such as bond issues or using the real estate surplus tax, have not even been considered.

“They did a voluminous E.A.S., that’s true,” he said. “But all the findings of impacts were ignored. The M.T.A. either came to the wrong conclusion or chose to ignore it.”

In short, the M.T.A. declared the E.A.S. findings showed that implementing the plan would have “no significant impact” and left it at that. And yet, for one thing, all the E.A.S. scenarios found that pollution and traffic would rise along the F.D.R. Drive, as Freed has noted.

April 4 in district court in New Jersey will be the first chance for a judge to weigh in on the contentious congestion pricing issue. The New York City community lawsuit will be decided in a New York court. Lester said all the cases will be decided by June.

“Congestion pricing is unprecedented,” he said. “It’s been undertaken nowhere else in America. Is the M.T.A. using the good citizens of New York as guinea pigs? It’s a very paternalistic, government-knows-best approach.”

Teacher’s torment

Meredith LeVande, another one of the local lawsuit plaintiffs, lives on the Lower East Side and works as a music teacher for special-needs kids at seven different Bronx public schools. Sometimes she travels to more than one school per day.

After driving up from the Lower East Side, Meredith LeVande carries and pushes all her gear to one of the several Bronx public schools where she teaches music to special-needs students six days a week. (Courtesy Meredith LeVande)

Six mornings a week, she loads her Honda with two guitars (she brings two so she doesn’t have to stop to fix a string if one breaks), a speaker, wireless mic, cables and classroom props, then drives one block to the F.D.R., and zips up to the Bronx.

“Twenty years ago I tried to take a stripped-down version of my gear on a subway — and I got stuck in the subway doors,” she said. “And there are no elevators [in the station]. There’s no way to carry all of this stuff on the subway — and the subway is close to a mile from my home.”

Plus, she said, even if she could physically manage it, she is not comfortable lugging all her gear to the subway in the early mornings when it’s still dark out. Her car is protection.

“There were kids beating each other up on the street and I Instagrammed it,” she said. “I have seen people brandishing weapons. If you have a lot of equipment, you’re not in a position to defend yourself.”

LeVande attended an M.T.A. public hearing on congestion pricing in late February. She bristled when a member of the agency’s Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee stood up and called car owners “privileged.”

‘It’s like a war on car owners.’

— Meredith LeVande

“Most New Yorkers cannot afford to own or regularly drive a car,” the PCAC member, Kara Gurl, testified. “It’s not at all unreasonable to ask those with the privilege of owning their own private vehicle to pay for the negative impacts they inflict on New Yorkers — fumes and pollution, unsafe streets and roads, constant noise and congestion at all hours of the day.”

Gurl branded car owners against the traffic toll “entitled traffic-lovers.”

“I’m not privileged enough to afford housing near the subway,” LeVande retorted. “It’s much more affordable to own a car than for me to pay $2,000 a month more in housing. I just find that a completely elitist statement.”

In fact, she said she moved to the Lower East Side from Washington Heights for cheaper rent.

“I service students that really, really need me, marginalized children,” LeVande said. “It makes a difference in their lives. I’ve been labeled a privileged polluter just because I drive one block [to get onto the F.D.R. Drive] to drive to the Bronx.

“This is like a war on people who own cars,” she fumed, “and, like, if you own a car you’re destroying the world. The idea that if you own a car, it puts you into the top 1 percent of wealth.

“This is America,” LeVande said, indignantly. “I think we’re going down a very dangerous slope if government is going to say, ‘You don’t have a right to drive home without paying us.’

“It’s something,” she said, “that literally keeps me up at night.”


  1. S.P. S.P. April 1, 2024

    Drive grandma to Sloan Kettering? He calls other people ignorant? As a woman who was diagnosed with cancer as a 29-year-old, who lives in the congestion zone, and who still needs to get to my hospitals, great to know that people like you, who know it all and who understand everything, are pushing for this legislation… ableist bro.

  2. JacDog JacDog March 29, 2024

    Excellent piece. Authentic community journalism.
    The gospel according to Transportation Alternatives.
    1) Promote Vision Zero.
    No Environmental Impact Study.
    No NYPD enforcement — to increase ridership
    No responsible bike culture.
    2) Promote bike lanes & Quiet zones
    Reduce parking for cars.
    Reduce revenue from metered parking
    Increase response time for emergency vehicles
    Increase difficulty for service technicians (Spectrum etc)
    3 Create congestion
    The worst congestion in the nation.
    Support the dining sheds — another way to reduce parking and promote the privatization of public space. Cohorts — hospitality/entertainment and real estate lobbies.
    4 Promote congestion tax
    A remedy for the problem that you largely created with irresponsible Vision Zero — aptly named.
    Set the table of PlacemakingX. Game plan of Fred Kent, co-refounder of Trans Alt along with Charles “the Sophist” Komanoff.

    Instead of reducing pollution by the promotion of cycling, V-0 has resulted in the worst congestion in the nation.
    Air quality? Electric vehicles would partially address it.
    The promotion of bike ride-share made bike shops for the regular riders not profitable, with increasing rents.
    The e-bike influx and the batteries have resulted in numerous accidents, unnecessary deaths and the raging lithium-ion battery fires. Result: Public Safety Crisis, Damaged quality of life. Welcome to the Progressive Paradise.

    • MSA MSA March 31, 2024

      I don’t see the bicycle lobby TransAlt/Open Plans as “progressive” at all.

      I guess they promote themselves as “progressive” – but the bicycle lobby is backed/funded by the 1%, receives contributions from major evil corporations like Uber, is closely aligned to Big Real Estate, etc.

      The bicycle lobby also does not care about MTA bus and subway — the bike lobby is pushing CP as the Trojan Horse to expand bicycling.

  3. Jon Keller Jon Keller March 29, 2024

    Change freaks people out!

  4. MSA MSA March 28, 2024

    1. It is my understanding that Mr. Komanoff is primarily a bicyclist – not a regular bus and subway user – so I am not understanding that his opinion and pontification on mass transit should be relevant at all.

    In fact, the bicycle lobby does not speak for me – a pedestrian, bus rider and subway rider.

    2. I’d appreciate knowing how Mr. Komanoff’s mother-in-law (referenced in the photo) gets around? Bicycle? Bus? Subway? Other?

    3. Seems that the bicycle lobby is primarily supporting congestion pricing as a Trojan Horse method to expand bicycling. In fact, bicycling siphons from bus and subway ridership.

    4. Today as usual, saw multiple incidents of bicyclists almost hitting pedestrians. As is often the case, it was Citibike riders who are egregious in their disregard for pedestrians. In one instance, the Citibike rider cursed a pedestrian who objected.

    5. Today waited 20 minutes in cold pouring rain for a bus. There was little traffic. Just reduced frequency. The bus was packed.

    Congestion Pricing will not expand or improve bus service.

  5. Mia Mia March 28, 2024

    Funny thing – people including elected officials were very happy that my neighbor with a car is driving supplies to migrant and family homeless shelters.

    But same folks are supporting CP and denouncing cars.

    Maybe Village Sun can address this hypocrisy with elected officials, bicycle lobby.

  6. Ron Wisniski Ron Wisniski March 27, 2024

    In the application to volunteer to serve on our community boards, the Manhattan borough president added the question, “Do you own a motor vehicle?” It is the only question that has a “must answer” asterisk. Our electeds have been bought and paid for by the Transportation Alternatives fanatics, who get their millions from the hedge-fund parasites who own Uber and Lyft. They decimated our taxi industry, replacing it with their overpriced ride shares, and now are finishing off private automobiles with their congestion pricing scheme, channeling yet more cash into their pockets. The delivery apps are connected, as well, skillfully exploiting the weakest among us to get their cut from our restaurant industry and deliver yet more cash to these craven jerks. These bikes and ebikes and mopeds and scooters are allowed to run wild on our streets with no accountability. They have been empowered to break all traffic laws, mowing down pedestrians in their wake. I suppose this chaos will just keep getting worse until TransAlt and their benefactors find a way to make us pedestrians profitable. Until then we seem to be expendable, just waiting for the exploding battery with our name on it.

  7. Michael R Gross Michael R Gross March 27, 2024

    Finally, an article that captures the price Manhattan residents will be forced to pay for political grandstanding and MTA greed and incompetence. Thank you, Village Sun.

  8. Lisa Transit Lisa Transit March 27, 2024

    Also – trying not to be rude here (but it is tough)….
    The bicycle lobby, Transportation Alternatives, Open Plans, etc only wants CP to expand the bike infrastructure — and has little interest in MTA subway and cares nothing about people who rely on MTA buses.

    For example, the bicycle lobby pushes for Open Streets even on avenues, forcing bus diversion and/or bus congestion due to spillover. The bicycle lobby keeps adding “bike events” that force bus diversion.
    At community board meetings, people connected with the bicycle lobby have minimized any impact on bus riders.

    I guess bus riders — which especially include people with health or mobility issues, older people, women — are not the cool demographic.

  9. Lisa Transit Lisa Transit March 27, 2024

    I don’t even know how to drive — and am against Congestion Pricing.
    For all the reasons others have noted.

    CP won’t reduce fares.
    CP won’t help bus riders — because CP is for subway capital.
    CP won’t help subway riders anytime soon.

    CP will make Manhattan even more expensive and hasten the gentrification tsunami.

    Want to reduce vehicles?
    Reduce Uber, tax e-commerce and fund more and better bus and subway.
    (Dept. of Transportation can use bicycle money to go to MTA bus and subway or fund City Fair Fares.)

    Want to reduce congestion?
    Stop high-rise overdevelopment, stop shrinking street space, stop Open Streets, stop adding confusing DOT street configurations.

    Want MTA revenue?
    Tax billionaire buildings, tax pied-a-terre, tax e-commerce, tax Uber. As noted, stop funding bicycles and instead send money to MTA.

    • Ferdinand James Ferdinand James March 27, 2024

      Congestion Pricing will help bus drivers! It will reduce the amount of delay caused by space-inefficient cars.

      • bus and subway bus and subway March 27, 2024

        No, Congestion Pricing won’t help bus riders.
        The MTA has been reducing bus service for years.
        Even when there are no vehicles, like on Sunday morning, there is a 20-30 minute wait for a bus.
        Routes like the M5 have been cut — so now there is an M5 and M55 — adding another 15-20 minutes to the trip.

        And the City does not hesitate to close streets for various reasons, so can’t find a bus many weekends.

  10. Allie Ryan Allie Ryan March 26, 2024

    I would like to add that the following Lower Manhattan state elected representatives/lawmakers, NY state Senators Brian Kavanagh and Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Asssemblymembers Harvey Epstein, Deborah Glick and Charles Fall, voted “Yea” for Congestion Pricing in 2019. (Assemblymember Grace Lee gets a pass because she was not in office in 2019.) Yes, Congestion Pricing was snuck into the budget at the 11th hour. But they all had a choice whether to vote “yea” or “nay.”

    And they all continue to praise and support Congestion Pricing despite knowing this is a classist public policy that they have tried to correct by exemptions. Yet, I am grateful that AM Deborah Glick testified earlier at one of the recent MTA hearings and acknowledged that the increased air pollution it would cause on the Lower East Side must be addressed and mitigated.

    Last year AM Charles Fall introduced Assembly Bill A7697 to exempt Lower Manhattan and Staten Island residents from Congestion Pricing, and a second bill, A7699, “directs the commissioner of transportation to conduct a study on the effects of the congestion surcharge imposed in lower Manhattan.”

    Neither of AM Fall’s bills have co-sponsors or companion NY Senate bills. WHY? Why haven’t our local elected officials stepped up? I have personally seen almost all of you at Sen. Kavanagh’s congestion pricing Town Halls. You have heard from numerous constituents that they don’t want congestion pricing. Community Board 3 issued a resolution calling for mitigations for the Lower East Side, where the MTA admits air pollution will increase due to Congestion Pricing.

    BUT YOU DO NOTHING! I wish I could say voters have a choice at the polls, but most of you are running for reelection unopposed.

    Meanwhile AM Grace Lee introduced Assembly Bill A8239 to exempt commuter vans. Even though this bill stayed in committee, today the MTA announced that all commuter vans will be exempted.

    In 2021 AM Harvey Epstein introduced Assembly Bill A8211 to exempt any clean-fuel vehicle, electric vehicle or vehicle that meets the clean-vehicle standards from congestion pricing. Yet the bill didn’t go anywhere and died at the end of the session.

    The COVID lockdown gave a preview of life with few cars on the streets of Manhattan: empty office buildings, vacant storefronts and hundreds of thousands people moved out of state and the creation of remote and hybrid work environments. And we all saw the record-breaking inflation in the grocery stores and had to make choices of what to and not to buy.

    Lawmakers have allowed the MTA to become an unchecked money pit that New Yorkers literally feed money on a daily basis. Be honest: Congestion pricing is another revenue stream for the MTA and a regressive tax for residents.

    The goals of reducing air pollution and car congestion, as nice as they sound, will not be achieved — because the program is designed to be sustained by cars coming into Manhattan below 60th St.

    Brian, Deborah, Harvey, Grace, Brad and Charles: Please put the 700,000 residents who live below 60th St — a mixed-use residential area, which is now called the “Central Business District” — FIRST. Repeal Congestion Pricing.

    Be Bold! Be courageous! Lean across the aisle and be a co-sponsor of state Senate BillS5425 / Assembly Bill A6906, which “relates to repealing congestion pricing (Part A); and commissioning an independent audit of the metropolitan transportation authority (Part B)”

  11. Choresh Wald Choresh Wald March 26, 2024

    The EAS is a reminder that the FDR Drive needs to be downsized and narrowed, needs to become a city street and not a highway, same design as on the wealthier West Side of Manhattan.
    80% of area residents don’t own vehicles.

    • bus and subway bus and subway March 27, 2024

      Seems odd to me that so many wealthy people (Gorton, Harris, Pritzker, etc) whose focus is bicycling keep messaging and suggesting that they speak for the non-rich relating to transportation issues.

      Or who, though they state concern about vehicle pollution/environmental impact, are themselves OK with getting non-stop Amazon deliveries and flying everywhere for fun vacations.

      BTW ironically and sadly, Dan Doctoroff who worked to develop Citibike, has ALS and is dependent on vehicles.

  12. Susan Lee Susan Lee March 26, 2024

    Komanoff’s survey at Noodletown is flawed and demonstrates how out of touch he is. His question to the diners about how they got to Noodletown isn’t the correct question if he truly understands the working class. Most of them are priced out of Manhattan. They live in the other boroughs and commute into the Manhattan for work. They probably walked or biked to Noodletown from their place of work. What he should ask them is 1) do you live in Manhattan? And 2) if you don’t, how did you get into Manhattan today?

    And for Komanoff to say, “Most of ’em can take a bus or train. If they’re driving grandma to Sloan Kettering for chemo or whatever, the trip is only going to take 20 minutes instead of 40 — and that’s going to be good for grandma sitting in the front seat.” Well, if there’s no one to drive grandma, then she’s out of luck because the bus may or may not come and when it does come, she’s going have to climb onto the bus while nauseous from chemo. Basically he’s saying, tough luck, grandma.

  13. Ralph Ralph March 26, 2024

    Lower East Side carless population is like 80% in even the furthest census tracts from the subway and you can’t find a non-vehicle owner to interview? I want to hear also from those folks, too, not just these drivers who can’t (or won’t…) take transit anyway.

  14. Wes Green Wes Green March 26, 2024

    Most people in my neighbourhood, the LES, obviously don’t mind living shorter lives, with more disease and crime, than people elsewhere. They can’t be bothered to come out and vote against clown politicians like Carlina Rivera, Harvey Epstein and Dan Goldman. Thank you very much, Mr. Loeb!

  15. Mike Mike March 26, 2024

    The congestion charge is the same as a round trip on an express bus. Why don’t we ever read articles telling us how oppressed the bus commuters are?

  16. Lucy Lucy March 26, 2024

    “I think it’s ill-timed, ill-conceived and ill-fated,” Komanoff said. “ Sounds like he is defining what most people have been saying about the CP tax. See how much tax you pay already to the MTA. It is the bottomless black hole of money without any oversight.
    People like Komanoff think they have the right to tell others how they should live. He and all his Trans Alt “hop on a bike” gang have no idea what goes on in people’s lives. Perhaps he would be better off living in an authoritarian country where there are no free choices.

  17. Tommy Loeb Tommy Loeb March 26, 2024

    “I know more about this thing — its benefits — than anyone on the planet,”
    said Komanoff.

    What BS from Komanoff. At a recent Baruch College forum on Congestion Pricing, Komanoff shocked the audience when asked about additional pollution on the Lower East Side. The Environmental Assessment says Congestion Pricing will create more pollution on the FDR Drive between 10th St and Brooklyn Bridge — an Environmental Justice Community already impacted by high asthma rates and more additional health issues made worse by already existing high levels of pollution.


    • Miriam Miriam March 29, 2024

      Thanks for your comment. I live along the FDR Drive. It’s going to be wall to wall traffic on the Drive when the congestion pricing goes through, making the already polluted air even worse. These people, like Komanoff, have a cavalier attitude toward the hundreds of thousands of people along the FDR Drive, the Cross Bronx Expressway and in Ft Lee, not to mention older people, essential workers, musicians, doormen, bar tenders, etc., who need their car to carry equipment, can’t take the subway because of accessibility issues or work off-hours or live in transportation deserts. It’s a terrible plan, unfair plan.

Leave a Reply

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.