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MTA Approves Manhattan Congestion Pricing Plan

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has approved what it hopes will become the nation's first congestion pricing system as early as the middle of June for the streets below 60th Street in Manhattan.

The board of the MTA, which runs the subways and now will administer the new electronically monitored congestion tolls, voted 11-1 on March 27 to authorize the pricing structure.

The plan the board approved will charge most cars $15 to enter the area of Manhattan south of 60th Street during peak times. The MTA says the tolls, to be levied by electronic scanners hung above the traffic lights on key east-west arteries, will reduce traffic and boost the use of mass transit.

The tolls also will add an estimated $1B a year to the MTA's capital expenditure budget to fund modernization of the transit system, including buses as well as trains.

"New York has more traffic than any other place in the US, and now we're doing something about it," Janno Lieber, the MTA CEO, declared at a press briefing.

Lieber acknowledged that the congestion pricing system in Manhattan can't be switched on without a final approval from the Federal Highway Administration. The MTA chief expressed confidence that FHA approval will be granted before June.

There are several legal challenges to the MTA's congestion pricing scheme that are moving through the courts—cases in which plaintiffs, including the state of New Jersey, might ask for an injunction to prevent the new tolls from being collected until the court cases are resolved.

A New Jersey district court in Newark will hear arguments on April 3 in a legal challenge mounted by Gov. Phil Murphy, who is seeking a longer environmental analysis of the congestion pricing program.

Murphy also is challenging the fairness of a system that imposes a new toll on New Jersey drivers who commute into NYC—with all of the revenue going to the MTA.

"This is far from over and we will continue to fight this blatant cash grab," Murphy said, in a statement that followed the MTA board's vote.

Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, the United Federation of Teachers and a group of residents also have filed suit seeking to delay or halt the congestion pricing toll.

The lone vote on the MTA board against the congestion pricing plan was David Mack, who represents Nassau County on Long Island, Bloomberg reported. Mack said he is concerned the new toll will hurt businesses and discourage people from returning to office buildings.

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Reprinted with permission from the Mon, 01 Apr 2024 06:32:03 EDT online edition of GlobeSt © 2024 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-256-2472 or reprints@alm.com.