How? Why? And what the heck?

I am not the only one aghast that Gov. Kathy Hochul put the kabash on the congestion pricing plan just 25 days before — and a half-billion dollars after — it was set to start.

This from Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine:
“We have paralyzing levels of traffic in midtown and downtown. This is slowing emergency response times, harming the climate, and serving as an enormous drag on our economy. Meanwhile, our public transit system faces desperate capital needs for station renovations, accessibility improvements, signaling upgrades, the extension of the Second Ave Subway, and more. Today’s news leaves us with dire questions about how we will address these crises.”

From Rep. Dan Goldman:
“If done right, congestion pricing remains the only identified viable long-term solution to addressing excessive congestion and environmental impacts while also meeting the needs of New York’s public transit system. I am also sensitive to the different economic environment we face than in 2019, before the pandemic, and the affordability concerns shared by so many working New Yorkers. Yet the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of congestion pricing’s effects will benefit the overwhelming majority of working-class New Yorkers who depend on our transit system.”

But nothing I have read or listened to so far — including Hochul’s own statement in the video above — begins to explain why she let it go so far. The cameras are installed, we all spent years and months and hours and hours thinking about this, commenting on hearings, studying — everything. So who does this? Who cuts down their own agencies plan, in the 11.9th hour? It’s infuriating, saddening, defeating, and it means as summer starts, we can look forward to blocks and blocks of bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Hochul’s statement made next to no sense, especially given her timing. She said that the plan was passed by the state legislature in 2019, before the pandemic changed everything. But the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which was the group that really set the plan in motion, was not convened until 2022 — while she was governor.

She said she “indefinitely paused” the congestion pricing plan because it “risks too many unintended consequences for New Yorkers,” meaning it costs too much for individual drivers and will therefore hamper the city’s economic recovery.

“Hard working New Yorkers are getting hammered on costs,” she said. “Our recovery has been stronger and swifter than anyone imagined but it is in no way complete. We can’t undercut this momentum.” She said she is worried that drivers can choose to stay home altogether — rather than shift to public transit. And she doesn’t think the city can afford to let those suburban drivers — commuters and tourists — stay home.

It also seemed very clear to me that she has no intention of revisiting congestion pricing at all, yet she repeatedly acknowledged that congestion is a problem AND that the MTA needs funds for a laundry list of improvements. “We will continue to find strategies to address congestion,” she said, but giving no hints as to what those may be.

And here’s some of the coverage:

Curbed: We Need Congestion Pricing, and Kathy Hochul Blew It

Even in the rich and varied annals of New York fecklessness, Governor Kathy Hochul’s last-minute decision to block congestion pricing wins a prize for doing harm by doing nothing. New York City should lead the world in urban transformation, as it did when it created a central water-supply system in the 1840s, mapped out an expanding grid of streets, built the subways, fast-tracked the technology of high-rise construction, developed a legal framework to control it, and enshrined historic preservation in law. Congestion pricing should have marked one of those moments when the city acted wisely to shape its own looming future

The Times: Hochul Halts Congestion Pricing in a Stunning 11th-Hour Shift

Just two weeks ago, the governor told attendees at the Global Economic Summit in Ireland that implementing congestion pricing was critical to ‘making cities more livable.’

WNYC: Former NYC Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz on future of congestion pricing

It’s a betrayal to millions of New Yorkers who are suffering from this congestion. It’s got to be just politics…The MTA was ready. They have spent a half a billion dollars on a system that was set to generate $15 billion.

The Washington Post: Gov. Kathy Hochul’s odd argument against New York congestion pricing
Hochul went on about this being a decision to help middle and low income New Yorkers for whom a $15 toll would be too much.

This is classic populist rhetoric, obviously, possibly cribbed from a book of Huey Long quotes. But it doesn’t match the reality, as detailed in a 2008 Department of Transportation (DOT) analysis of proposals limiting traffic to Manhattan’s central business district (CBD). “Those who commute by car to the CBD earn comparatively higher incomes: New York City DOT staff analyzed the income levels of city and suburban residents who use the automobile as their primary mode to reach Manhattan jobs,” it read. It concluded that, “in aggregate, the fee would most impact commuters who earn 31 percent more than the median income of all Manhattan workers.” The little guy, as it were.



  1. I wasn’t looking forward to congestion pricing BUT the traffic situation in lower Manhattan NYC is ridiculous and I had come around to thinking congestion pricing was a necessary evil. I really can’t believe the Governor waited until the last minute to do this- and didn’t really explain her decision well – she lost my vote

  2. I hope we all remember this indefensible, ignorant and idiotic decision at the next election.

    • Lol. It can be argued that the policy itself is indefensible, ignorant and idiotic (manage your finances better and stop squandering public funds in the highest tax city in the nation). The huge financial impact on the working class (in nyc and from all adjacent boroughs) is precisely why she halted it. It’s an election year and the Democrats are losing their base. This coincides with the recent release of petroleum from the strategic reserves (to lower prices at the pump) and the sudden restrictive border policy enacted the other day (to limit immigration). See the trend? These last minute about-faces are to retain votes. Then they’ll turn around and screw the working class, as usual, after the election, assuming they win…

      • Absolutely! Anyone else suddenly getting weekly emails from Kirsten Gillibrand after not hearing a peep from her office in several years? Yes, she’s up for reelection this year.

    • I most definitely will.

    • it will help her. that’s why she’s doing it. congestion pricing is not popular.

      • Congestion priciing is like the also-unpopular smoking ban in the early aughts: everyone will complain, and then a few months after it’s installed, crickets. Because New Yorkers, and especially its New York City-loving suburbs, are like sheep. Too bad Hochul chickened out.

  3. This is just an embarrassing way to govern. What did we do to deserve her and Eric Adams?

  4. Finally! Someone has come to their senses about the issue. It was a money grab from the start. If we need money for the subways, enforce fare evasion. If you want cars to move more quickly, let the streets be streets instead of bike lanes and bike parking and extra restaurant space; with the double parking on both sides of Church Street by trucks unloading, it’s down to one lane much of the time.

  5. I the only person who lives in Tribeca, owns a car and does not think that charging me money to drive it while I watch unrestrained droves of subway riders hop the turnstile in order to make up mta shortfalls is just another sleeper tax and a travesty?
    Maybe arresting people who break the law and closing budget shortfalls the old fashion way with common sense would be a better strategy than just taxing the law abiders but I also thought arresting people who block traffic to illegally protest made sense as well so I guess I am crazy.

    • your not crazy you just have common sense :-)

    • I had the same feeling. I live in Tribeca and own a car. I pay the NYC property taxes and the insane cost of a garage. I don’t have a problem with using Congestion Pricing to incentivize suburbanites to use public transportation – but it clearly seems problematic for it to penalize those of us who live in the congestion zone. Why should I have to pay a penalty to drive my daughter to a basketball practice in Bushwick on a Sunday? I’ve been very surprised that this isn’t a larger talking point.

      • I agree with all three of you. Why should someone driving from the Holland Tunnel, for seven blocks to park in their Tribeca neighborhood pay for “congestion pricing”? (or to other similar downtown neighborhoods where people drive to leave the city not drive around the city). Why would the fee charged to me to park near my home also then allow me to drive all day long in the real congestion zone of midtown without a problem? Different fees should have been asked to be paid- not one size fits all. Why were small cars going to be charged the same as pickup trucks and large SUV’s?
        Why was “congestion pricing” going to be in effect on weekends, holidays and in the evening?
        The real causes of congestion are the Ubers and Lyfts- way too many of them everywhere.
        E bikes must have registrations and license plates for many reasons including paying fees to the city.
        Put smaller tolls on the East River crossings.
        Fare evasion is a huge problem that the dysfunctional MTA has allowed to get completely out of hand- 800 Million dollars a year We have all seen how this has become the new normal for thousands of people.
        This plan was slapped together- no nuance or real thought put into it just a cash cow for the MTA.

  6. NY State/City Governance at its dysfunctional best, Wonder what the common denominator is? as for congestion pricing, Why does MTA need more $, has a massive state budget, maybe audit the wasteful spending, fraudulent OT etc.. plenty of $ to be found. How about cracking down on fare beaters which is a $600 million a year cost. Maybe we don’t spend Billions creating new bike lanes that are only used in the warm months,BTW talk about congestion, how much congestion is caused by turning 4 lanes into 2 to create bike lanes that less than 1% use. how does that effect emergency vehicles. while your at it, get illegal asylum seekers out of the hotels, 20% of all rooms are used, less tourism, less $ revenue, more deterioration. This city used to be smart, not so much anymore

    • Hate to break it to you, but people bike in NYC year round. According to DOT, from January 1, 2024 to April 1, 2024 there were 6,667,687 Citi Bike trips taken. So over 1.5 million a month in cold weather. And that is only bike share- does not include privately owned bike riders. Also, from DOT, as of October 2022, there were 610,000 cycling trips made in New York City on an average day, so likely many more than that a year and a half later.

      • Apparently NYC is now Amsterdam. Except when I walk past the bike racks, they’re almost always full with bikes. I would truly like to believe DOT statistics. However, most of the bike riders that I narrowly dodge while trying to safely cross the street are making deliveries, not using bikes as a transportation alternatives, And they almost never adhere to the rules of the road, like stopping at red lights.

    • S could not be more wrong. Car centric NYC was always part of Robert Moses insane dream and congestion pricing is one way out. We could also toll more of the bridges and tunnels and make parking more expensive. The parking lots that still dot the city should be taxed out of existence. Want to stop fare beaters? So do I but the MTA will need money to install new turnstiles. Bike lanes and wider, tree lined sidewalks are the best thing to happen to our city in years and should be increased 10 fold. Finally, NYC is the symbol of refugees for a reason and should do its part to help people in need.

  7. I’d like to know what she got in return for this last second about-face.

  8. Thank goodness common sense prevailed. The fact that residents would not be exempt was ludicrous and the impact on those neighborhoods north of 60th st was never really discussed. I think a far better plan was floated a couple of years ago, mandating that deliveries be done overnight. This would be a far better solution.

  9. Tribeca Citizen removes or does not publish comments that don’t fit the authors narrative. It’s a shame because what was once (Eric, prior owner) and should be a neighborhood melting pot of news and commentary around said local news has become instead a managed message – “refrain all ye liberals my sentiments in your comments.” It’s a disappointing echo of today’s mainstream media in what was a neighborhood sounding board…and you’ll probably never see this comment.

    • This was Erik’s (note spelling) policy on comments and it continues to be mine:
      • Discriminatory language, personal attacks, promotions and spam will be removed.
      • I reserve the right to not publish a comment for any other reason as well.
      • Comments can be anonymous, but it’s not required. Hopefully we are among friends.
      • Please don’t comment under more than one name and don’t use a fake email or I will likely delete the comment.
      • Anyone with a vested interest in the subject must say so. (If you’re touting your company’s products or services, your comment probably won’t be allowed; that’s what advertising is for.)

  10. Taxing the bridges would have been a better result for downtown.

    • Exactly. There’s already a built in way to reduce congestion coming into and out of the city since it’s an island. Take those toll cameras and put them on the free crossings that cause traffic to jam up downtown during rush hours. Also get rid of this “only pay going one way nonsense”. With the technology we have now, you can charge people tolls both ways without worrying about extra traffic.

    • agreed. why over complicate this?

  11. I was never for congestion pricing, because I didn’t think it would help curtail congestion at all, and increase congestion in areas surrounding the zone. I hoped to be proved wrong when it went into effect. Nothing I’d like better than less cars in the city. I never understood why certain vehicles would be charged at all, such as service vehicles, or food/ drugstore delivery. They don’t add to congestion, and everyone’s prices would rise, whether you had a car, or not. Uber cars are everywhere… and a big add the city’s congestion. The city lessens the amount of car lanes, which adds to congestion.. Like I said, I hoped to be proven wrong. I also think that after the elections, congestion pricing will be right back on the table.

  12. i’m stunned at how few people know that congestion pricing has been in place for 20 years in london and traffic congestion there is worse than ever.

    • Because the street pattern is often 500 years old, London will always be one of the slowest cities in the world. There is very little appetite to demolish large parts of central London to change this.

      In London (in optimal conditions) it takes 25 minutes to travel 10km. In NYC it is close to 13 minutes. You may think that NYC traffic could not get worse but in fact London tops out around 7 minutes slower than NYC in peak rush hour.

      It shows that all those extra lanes we have does help a bit but not much.

      Inside the congestion zone in London the reduction in travel time was around 7 minutes per 10km, taking it back below the NYC times.

      So was it worth it? Cycling rates exploded after the change, and reached a critical mass. Traffic deaths also dropped considerably as the number of non-professional drivers dropped inside the zone. TFL is much better funded because of it and our subway system in NYC – while arguably better even 10 years ago – lags London’s now. And gridlock in central London is a rarity now. Its slow but predictable; fewer bottlenecks.

      If you look at London’s overall experience it has been one where there is no push to reverse the changes. I think we should all prefer less polluted, less dangerous cities, but it doesn’t mean the traffic in London doesn’t suck. Its less sucky than it was and that’s a good thing.

      • As a Londoner I think that’s a fair summary. I would add – and have pointed this out before – that in London it is a congestion charge not a tax. In other words it operates when there is congestion. The charge is not operated at times when congestion is lower. This is also designed to help businesses who need people coming into them, for instance restaurants. So the London charge does not operate in the evenings to still encourage people to come into the city and dine out. Similarly it does not run all weekend. The New York charge was 24 hours a day, so really a gotcha tax for anyone coming into the city even locals living in it. Seemed odd to me

      • Cycling in London did not impact car usage – cycling meant less use of bus and tube.

        Same thing in NYC – bicyclists are former subway and bus riders. Cycling siphons from public transit.

        • I think this misses the sheer scale of the success of cycling in London. Its 1.2mm per day compared to 54k or so in NYC. That is reducing the burden on other modes massively. even if all 1.2mm used to take public transport the space freed up means drivers are more likely to be tempted to use a less crowded tube of bus. London has done something. Paris too. New Yorkers sit and honk their horns.

    • This does not prove that congestion pricing failed in London. There was significant reduction of traffic volume, plus generation of billions in revenue which were invested back into transport, in London:

      “TfL concludes that while levels of congestion in central London are close to pre-charging levels, the effectiveness of the congestion charge in reducing traffic volumes means that conditions would be worse without the Congestion Charging scheme.”

      So if this is correct, congestion would be even worse in London without the congestion charge.

  13. I’m kind of surprised by this and other news outlets response to this. There are/were many many people, organizations, and agencies that are very against congestion pricing and this doesn’t reflect any of that.

    I take public transportation and don’t have a car, so I would not be as impacted, but understand the push back.

  14. A $15 congestion pricing toll is not putting families over the edge, the ability for landlords and large leasing companies to use algorithms to falsely inflate rents and the high price of rents driving people out of Manhattan and the CBD as well as the ability for landlords to let apartments and store fronts sit vacant because they get tax breaks which are worth more than lowering rent is what is hurting people. Maybe let’s talk about tackling that Eric Adams and Gov Hochul, as well as NYC electeds and state electeds. We have some of the best public schools in the state with less and less middle income (and even upper income) that can benefit because rents are too high…

    As for congestion, maybe look at examining where it’s worse and rethink traffic lights and city planning to fix …

  15. Just sent the Gov an email that if Congestion Pricing is not in place by the next primary, she lost two votes.

  16. Random question… Who paid the roughly $500 million it cost to install all of the license plate readers and cameras which were installed for this program all around Manhattan? Also what is going to happen to this system going forward? Is it being shut down or will it continue to monitor and track every vehicle entering and leaving NYC?

    It’s hard to imagine that New Yorkers would have accepted such a surveillance system if it weren’t for it’s necessity for congestion pricing.

  17. Random question – Who paid the roughly $500 million it cost to install all of the license plate readers and cameras which were installed for this program all around Manhattan? Also what is going to happen to this system going forward? Is it being shut down or will it continue to monitor and track every vehicle entering and leaving NYC?

    It’s hard to imagine that New Yorkers would have accepted such a surveillance system if it weren’t for it’s necessity for congestion pricing.

  18. This is so sad. The USA, one NYC especially, should be leading the way forward in re-orienting cities away from cars. There have been years of back and forth on this, and refinements made, and more refinements and adjustments can be made after implementation, by seeing what works and correcting for the “unintended consequences”. Other cities have successfully implemented congestion pricing models for many years, and we can learn from their experience. How will we know if it can work or not for NYC unless we try it? What a disgrace to take it so far, spend so much effort and money, and then back out at the last minute.

    For those who wish to voice their opinions, write to Governor Hochul:

  19. The Un-Governor.
    Or is it De-Governor?

  20. Has anyone been to London lately? The traffic there is horrible. Their subway system that was supposed to be upgraded, isn’t. It’s old and antiquated. We traveled last November to the UK. One of our group was disabled and needed handicap access subways or take cabs. In the outer r area where we stayed, the subway was so old, been the same since I was there in the 70’s 80’s. No escalator or elevators. So our disabled travel companion had to take cabs. Nightmare traffic and everyone was complaining about the pricing. It’s done no good and the subways are still the same old tubes they always were. Not even a coat of paint! Plus in terms of pollution downtown, it’s going to get far worse bc of the bridges and tunnels that are in this area, particularly around BPC
    What’s the answer? They are going to plant trees to offset the large increase in pollution we will experience downtown. It’s a flawed plan that wasn’t going to help anyone except line the pockets of the unmonitored MTA.

    • As I noted above, the “horrible” traffic in London would probably be worse if congestion pricing had not been implemented. It did make a difference.

      There was significant reduction of traffic volume, plus generation of billions in revenue which were invested back into transport, in London:

      So similarly, even if the London public transit system needs a lot of work, it would be in even worse shape if it had not had the income from congestion pricing to invest.

      (Yes, I’ve been to London recently).

      • I have also been to London recently and lived in both London and New York for decades. Both cities are terrific and have a lot in common. That said I do not recognize the above description of investment in London transport versus New York, London has had far more investment, In New York we have had the extension of he 7 Line to Hudson Yards, a few stops added to the Upper East Side and now Long Island Trains can come into Grand Central as well as Penn Station plus the fantastic Maynohan Extension at Penn. But that’s about it. London has had the Elizabeth Line built. A whole new train service running end to end West to East with multiple spurs – brand new state of the art. You can catch the train from Heathrow and go to multiple stops in central London from West London, Central London to East London. That’s like getting on at JFK and getting the train that stops at Grand Central, Penn Station and down to the World Trade Center in about 35-40 minutes. Then there is the London overground which was added as a new circular line connecting all the middle boroughs of London so you don;t have to travel in and then out, Again think of a circular train that connected Jersey City, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Hoboken(it is being looked at and London used existing and old lines to do it just like NY is thinking about ). Then you have the Jubilee Line extension connecting Canary Wharf to the City. Numerous tube line and overground train lines put in for the Olympics. Extension of the Northern Line (to the US Embassy), new signaling on all the very busy central tube stations and a rolling station refurbishment program (that had clearly not made it to the station that Marcus visited).Many of the train stations are now stunning – Victoria, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, St Pancras to name just a few. When you arrive at any of these you feel you have arrived at major modern city a million miles away from the dungeon that is Penn. We have seen what NY can do with Laguardia, the new stations at Grand Central and the connections built at the WFC and Moynihan, it only takes some big thinking and collective will. I love both cities and look forward to more public transport infrastructure going into both.

  21. One way to reduce congestion would be to install turn lights at every intersection. When the turn light is green, the don’t walk/ride sign is solid red. Would also likely cut down on pedestrian accidents.

  22. If anyone observes driving situations enough. It’s not the amount of the cars are on the street. But about the timing of the traffic lights, people’s driving skill, and how nonsense the cops closing the lanes. If the system is not changed, billing 50 dollar per entry would not do any job.

  23. If the MTA is going to implement a punitive tax on drivers, they have to demonstrate that they can spend the money in a responsible way. They are skilled at paying their executives $400,000+ salaries, but not so good at preventing fare evaders on the subways and buses who cost the MTA more than $700 million a year. If we want NYC to be a once again 24/7 thriving city, we can’t be slapping workers with a $4000 annual tax. Many of these workers have no viable mass transit choice. That is true even in Manhattan where the Lower East side is significantly underserved. A working class person who lives there and has a job in an outer borough will get financially wacked by congestion pricing. The additional lunacy of the plan is that below 60th street is the only place where there is congestion in NYC. The cost burden should be shared city wide with smaller, more manageable and realistic tolls. Why is it that you can drive into Manhattan for free on some bridges, and pay tolls on others? Why not charge $2.90, the cost of a subway token, on all the free bridges entering Manhattan, ending the toll shopping that the current plan encourages. That’s eminently more fair than a $15 sledgehammer. And does anyone really believe that it will end at $15? That’s only a starting point. The Governor was right to stop th current draconian plan. It requires more study and creativity, not MTA arrogance.

  24. Agree this is crazy, making a decision like this at the last minute after huge amounts have been spent. I also think it’s illegal. Bonds have been sold that are supposed to be repaid using revenue from congestion pricing. The bondholders can sue and will likely win. I hope they do.