Where the candidates for NY-10 stand on congestion pricing

Congestion pricing for Midtown and Lower Manhattan (more on that Monday) was one of the topic for the NY1/WNYC debate, since the MTA just released its pricing proposal for vehicles. Most of the candidates wanted to remind watchers — and the moderators — that this is a not federal issue, but one for the state and city. Still, the moderators reminded them that they will be asked to weigh in on issues like this for their district. None had specifics, and none clearly wanted to create carve-outs behind what has already been proposed for income by the state legislation.

Goldman – SUPPORTS – He said he would want to reevaluate/take a close look at the area of congestion pricing zone. There are places, he said, on the LES that don’t have access to mass transportation and are forced to drive.

Rivera – SUPPORTS. “It’s a smart policy that is long overdue. If you live in New York, you know the traffic and congestion here is unbearable. If you have ever been on a city bus, you know we are moving way too slow. We have to prioritize mass transit and we need the funds to update infrastructure and we need a complete reimagining of our streetscape, and it’s better for the environment.”

Jones – SUPPORTS. “Climate change should concern all of us. ” He also noted that we need to reduce carbon emissions and watch out for people who are in a transportation desert.

Niou: VOTED FOR THE STATE LEGISLATION– She noted that since it’s a regressive tax, the state needs to make sure there are exemptions for seniors on fixed income and low income residents of the district. And she noted those are already in the bill.

Simon: SUPPORTS. Simon said she sponsored legislation before Bloomberg proposed it. “Need to incentivize public transportation and disincentivize the use of vehicles going in and out.”  She also noted that the city needs to improve and expand bus routes, such as one that went over the Manhattan Bridge 25 years ago. And also noted that this will reduce traffic in Central Brooklyn as well, where most of that traffic is thru traffic going to Manhattan.

Holzman: SUPPORTS. She said it’s critical for two things to happen: the plan has to make it less expensive to get into Manhattan with mass transit than with a vehicle. “And we need accountability on where the money will go — what are the plans for this money and its use?”



  1. Its a money grab for the city unions

  2. While on the subject of congestion:
    If the city actually ticketed people for gratuitous horn-honking it would raise enough money to build the entire 2nd Avenue subway.

  3. I looked at the linked MTA page and saw that the fee would be charged daily for each vehicle entering or remaining in the zone. I garage my car in Tribeca and generally use it once a week to visit my elderly Mom in New Jersey. 99% of my travel is outside the zone (since the West Side Highway is excluded from the zone). Does anyone know if the “remaining” clause means that I will be charged 365 days/year even though it’s not on a road in the zone at all 6 out of every 7 days?

    • Mark Levine’s office told me no. A friend was told by Liz Krueger’s office the same thing. But it is ambiguous.

      Also, ever take your kid to a little league game at Pier 40 or sports league at Chelsea Piers? You’ll be going across the West Side Highway so you will get charged.

      • This is exactly the kind of trip that should be done by bike up the greenway instead of by car. The congestion fee might induce you to make a different transportation choice.

    • No, you will be charged when you leave and when you return. Why they are using the word “remaining” for leaving is a mystery to me.

      • I took “remaining” as a way to catch livery and other drivers who owned their own cars from parking them on the streets in the zone overnight in the hopes that all their trips during the day would be within the zone and they’d never get charged. This, of course, assumes that all the EZ pass readers and cameras will only be on the edges of the zone.

  4. I gather if you asked Maud Maron or Brian Robinson the same question, you’d get far more practical answers. Why didn’t you ask them? Especially since aren’t both Tribeca residents?

    • These questions were asked at the debate. I spoke to both of them and the Q&A allowed ample space for them to bring up any issue they want. They are welcome to comment on this post as well.

  5. Also – are any of these folks pledging not to ever seek exemptions for government employees/ elected officials OR ever seek reimbursements from the government claiming it was a business expense?

    I gather Dan Goldman wouldn’t want exemptions given this would amount to pennies for him.

  6. On this MTA website https://new.mta.info/project/CBDTP (from TBC article) I listened to the presentation which says rates will be decided by TBTA Board later this year. The example range was EZPASS $9-23/day for peak times (depends on all the exemptions given — those parking passes?). Isn’t this going to push a lot of traffic onto the West Side HWY and the FDR? Force businesses to garage in Manhattan if the toll is too high? I garage near my apt (pay taxes) and rarely drive in the CBD except to exit Manhattan. Why aren’t residents given a break? There does not appear to be a discussion of a study to understand ‘who’ is driving in the CBD. Lots of discussion about the economic impact on lower-income households but nothing on trying to understand the source of the vehicles. I’m also unsure about the answer of the question on the thread about parking. If I drive out of the city on Monday (charge) come back on Thursday (charge again). Is that right?

  7. Does anyone know if Taxis will be exempt or will this charge be factored into the fare? There should be exemptions for seniors or persons with disabilities who cannot navigate the subways or buses and also for those living in areas with no easy access to public transportation. I think the concept has merit but there are a lot of details to be worked out.

    • There should be exemptions for: parents who drive their kids to a special school in Manhattan; people who have to go get medical treatment in Manhattan; people who have to drive to visit their elderly parents (or their elderly children); motorcyclists; Tesla drivers; seniors; Staten Islanders who drive over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge; police officers and first responders taking civilian vehicles into the city; and musicians who have gigs outside New York City and have to bring their music equipment with them. They should also all be given free gasoline and a lollipop.

  8. I live in Tribeca and keep a car in a garage down here. I also drive to Brooklyn quite frequently for business. I guess this means that I’ll be charged every time I drive home from my office in Brooklyn, yes? My job requires moving about to various Bushwick, Dumbo, Greenpoint and Williamsburg locations throughout the day, so taking mass transit isn’t always an option. Also, when I’m not using my car, will I be charged because it is being garaged in the Central Business District?

  9. Let’s be clear. Congestion pricing has nothing to do with reducing congestion, and everything to do with raising revenue. It is a tax on drivers, pure and simple. Congestion in NYC would be eased with the deployment of more Traffic Agents at key choke points throughout Manhattan and the rest of the city. NYC is making itself the Guinea Pig for this ill advised experiment, as it has not been implemented an where else in the USA. In London, it is promoted as a success, but I have friends living there who say that is a dubious claim, and that businesses located in those areas have suffered. It will also hurt business here, as drivers find alternative destinations for conducting business, shopping, entertainment, and dining. Politicians are loath to say that they favor more taxing, but that is exactly what Congestion Pricing is. They should stop hiding behind the deceptive name.

    • Sorry, but this position echoes the absolute worst of Robert Moses’ anti-transit, anti-working-class, and frankly racist bias. From the NY Times in 1965, almost 60 years ago:

      “Reaction from Robert Moses, Chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and architect of the region’s automobile centric development, was swift and dismissive. ‘The diversion of toll revenues could offset only a very small part of the deficits of the commuter and rapid transit railroads, would not solve any of their major problems, and will merely deprive the motorist, who foots the bill, of the facilities he requires to function.’ ”

      Read Caro’s “Power Broker” first if you disagree.

      The economic rationale of congestion pricing, to make people pay for the cost and impact of their using the roads and thereby encourage and support more efficient alternatives, is unassailable. (One would just as ridiculously argue against charging riders fares for mass transit use.)

      • I’m trying to comment on your remark that “One would just as ridiculously argue against charging riders fares for mass transit use.” In that case every motorist should pay something. No one would want only some transit riders to pay $23. Right? I also feel that in a more enlightened city subways would be free and not rely on regressive fares, Please don’t kill some of NY’s most wonderful neighborhoods, by preventing shops from receiving reasonably priced merchandise due extra fees.

        • Every motorist should pay for what they use. Right now, motorists who use the CBD do not pay tolls in the true economic cost of doing so. Pedestrians who live in the CBD deal with the congestion for no benefit, e.g., anyone who lives or walks near Hudson Street, Canal Street, or Broome Street during rush hour. Transit users at least pay something to use the system (even if farebox revenue is heavily subsidized.)

          • The traffic you mention–“near Hudson Street, Canal Street, or Broome Street during rush hour”–concerns the Holland Tunnel, which will probably get at least partial exemptions. It has nothing to do with most downtown traffic, which is less congested than the upper east side. Are you saying now that the congestion on the bridges is now a problem that all using them should share in addressing? Why are you against making the line 86th or 96th Street? A 7th Street resident gets no more benefit than an 86th Street resident.

        • The passthrough costs of a CBD toll on local businesses will be negligible. Even if the toll for a truck is $50 roundtrip (which it won’t be), you’re dividing that cost over hundreds or thousands of items per delivery. The incremental cost on a particular good is pennies on the dollar.

          • Exactly. It is the cost equivalent of an extra parking ticket, despite the multiple instances daily that unticketed but still double-parked trucks cause traffic backups in Manhattan affecting all of us.

    • Reducing congestion, pollution, traffic injuries and death, all while raising revenue for public transit, can ALL be motivations for the plan. And I’d say those are all excellent reasons in favor of the plan.

  10. Tracy is spot on. They’ve create the “congestion pricing” moniker to make it appear environmentally sensitive. But this is all about just raising revenue – this time on drivers since its politically palatable to tax them as they contribute to carbon pollution. Of course, if the fees on the tunnels and bridges aren’t stopping them from coming in, this won’t change driving patterns much either. But the politicians don’t care because they just want a politically defendable way of just taxing more.

  11. Why is the line drawn at 60th Street when it was at 86th?
    Why no discount for electric vehicles? After all the trauma downtown NY has experienced, more of NY could share the burden.

    • Re: 60th Street

      1. The law’s legislative findings state in part, “Travel speeds in the city of New York’s central business district have dropped more than seventeen percent in two thousand sixteen to an average of 6.8 miles per hour and in Midtown Manhattan, the most congested area of the city-the area from fifty-ninth street to thirty-fifth street and from ninth avenue to the east river-the average vehicular speed is 4.7 miles per hour.”

      2. City legislation and regulations have long distinguished between the “Manhattan Core” (defined in the New York City Zoning Resolution as Community Districts 1 through 8, comprising Manhattan below 96th Street on the East Side and 110th Street on the West Side) and the City’s primary “Central Business District” (CBD, defined as Manhattan below 60th Street.)

      3. All toll free crossings into Manhattan and all but one toll free outbound crossings are located south of 60th Street.

      Re: electric vehicles

      These take up just as much space on the roadway and cause just as much congestion as gas powered vehicles.

      • You say “the most congested area of the city-the area from fifty-ninth street to thirty-fifth street,” so it would either make sense to take tolls for this area (on those two streets), or share the burden by expanding the tolls to the Upper East and West Sides. Under the current proposal, wouldn’t someone driving from 86th Street to Brooklyn use a bridge and avoid congestion pricing while someone on 7th Street must in effect pay for those relatively wealthy and politically influential neighborhoods? What sense does that make?

        • I think you do not understand the current proposal. “Someone driving from 86th Street to Brooklyn” would be charged if they enter the CBD at 60th Street.

          This is not mere bridge tolling. From the MTA website: “Rendering of a proposed mast arm housing tolling infrastructure and tolling system equipment over the roadway at Broadway between 60th and 61st Streets.” See rendering at https://new.mta.info/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/2022-08/CBDTP%20Tolling%20Alternative%20broadway%20%282%29_0.jpg

          If your hypothetical “someone” *chose* to use the Triborough Bridge and drives to Brooklyn through Queens at a longer trip but lesser toll, that is a success — one less vehicle in the CBD achieved.

          • Your comment: “If your hypothetical “someone” *chose* to use the Triborough Bridge and drives to Brooklyn through Queens at a longer trip but lesser toll, that is a success — one less vehicle in the CBD achieved” shows a NIMB mindset. What about congestion elsewhere? And why should this option not be open to those in the zone who won’t create any more congestion through such a trip than one uptown? We are in this all together and need better, more equitable, and more progressive solutions.

          • This is hardly NIMBY. Residents of the congestion zone will see benefits and costs of congestion pricing, as will NYC residents living outside the congestion zone (and commuters). I do not really know what you are talking about.

            One needs to start somewhere. The CBD is the most congested part, and will provide the greatest return in terms of reduced congestion and funding for mass transit esp for use by outerborough residents. If there are secondary congestion impacts, then they can be addressed when they emerge, like adding tolls to the Cross-Bronx Expressway and capping it to provide green space above.

            Tolls are prices. Prices are information that help people make choices. People collectively make bad choices with bad information, like artificially low prices on scarce resources/causes of huge externalities like road use and pollution, whether gasoline cars or electric cars mostly powered by electricity generated from fossil fuels.

            I suggest one read this to learn more about the progressive nature of congestion pricing:

            What Does Congestion Pricing Mean for Outer-Borough New Yorkers in Poverty? | Community Service Society of New York

      • You says: “Re: electric vehicles These take up just as much space on the roadway and cause just as much congestion as gas powered vehicles” but this ignores carbon emission. If nearly everyone had an electric vehicle, congestion would be much less of a problem.