Is There a Middle Ground on Congestion Pricing? And Is the MTA Listening?

Photo: AFP

At a public hearing last Friday, New Yorkers sounded off in a bid to stave off congestion pricing, even though many people felt the hearing was a pointless exercise. With equipment already in place, the plan appears all but certain to start sometime in June. One voice, however, called not to eliminate the controversial plan, but rather to retool it into something more equitable. The Chair of the Broadway Association, Cristyne Nicholas, was among those who testified at Friday’s public hearing. She laid out her reasoning for how congestion pricing ought to be implemented on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program, saying the current plan is doomed to fail.

“I think, with Manhattan being an island, it is a privilege to drive. I get it, but the roads have to be fixed just as much as the subways,” Nicholas explained to Berman and Riedel. “So, if you’re going to be coming into Manhattan on any of the crossings (south of 60th Street), you should have to pay a toll… and I’m not talking about $15 tolls. I’m talking about the price of a Metrocard, right?... If you lower the congestion pricing fee below 60th Street to, say $6, double the price of a Metrocard, or $3 off-peak, there’d be no need for all of these carve-outs and delays.”

Regardless, the current plan appears to be on track for a June debut. That isn’t stopping several groups from filing lawsuits to stop it, and Nicholas feels some of those suits have their merits. “I think the New Jersey one has some traction. I do think they’re getting double-bonked for this, and I do think, as I was mentioning, the reason why you want to toll all the bridges is not just for more money--less pain, more gain--but also to prevent toll shopping. They’re going to have to address that. That’s an environmental issue...and I think that may hold some water.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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