Gov. Hochul Puts NYC Congestion Pricing on ‘Indefinite Pause’ at 11th Hour

While the governor cited the costs of the plan as one of the reasons for her decision, some critics say politics played a critical role in her ruling.

Gov. Hochul Puts NYC Congestion Pricing on ‘Indefinite Pause’ at 11th Hour

NEW YORK—A little more than three weeks before the controversial tolling program was to go into effect, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she was putting New York City’s congestion pricing program on “indefinite pause.”

While the governor cited the costs of the plan as one of the reasons for her decision, some critics say politics played a critical role in her ruling that at the very least will delay the implementation of congestion pricing until after the November election.

The congestion pricing program was scheduled to begin June 30. Cars would have been charged an additional $15 to enter Manhattan at 61st Street and below, while trucks would have been levied between $24 and $36, depending on the vehicle’s size. However, published reports indicate that after the governor’s statement, the MTA put the program on pause. Revenue from congestion pricing was expected to generate approximately $15 million in revenue that was to help fund big-ticket MTA capital projects.

Congestion pricing was also projected to result in 100,000 fewer vehicles entering the zone every day, thus easing congestion and providing environmental benefits in and around the zone. However, elected officials in the Bronx and Staten Island complained that the plan would lead to worse air quality in their respective boroughs.

“Circumstances have changed and we must respond to the facts on the ground—not from the rhetoric from five years ago. So, after careful consideration, I have come to the difficult decision that implementing the planned congestion pricing system risks too many unintended consequences for New Yorkers at this time. For that reason, I have directed the MTA to indefinitely pause the program.” Gov. Hochul said.

She related that the $15 charge could break the budget of working or middle-class households and put “the squeeze on the very people who make this city go: the teachers, first responders, small business workers, bodega owners. And given these financial pressures, I cannot add another burden to working- and middle-class New Yorkers—or create another obstacle to continued recovery.”

The governor said the state remains committed to providing funding for the MTA capital program and some of its transformative projects, including the Second Avenue Subway and the Interborough Express. Later in her presentation, the governor said the state “will continue to pursue our environmental objectives, even as we pause congestion pricing. We will continue to find strategies to address congestion. And we will continue to find solutions that benefit both our planet and our people.”

While many lawmakers praised the governor’s decision to further study the impacts of congestion pricing, Politico reported that Democratic leaders approached the governor with their concerns over congestion pricing's impact on close U.S. House races in the state.

NBC-TV reported that when asked about the congestion pricing being put on pause, New York Mayor Eric Adams said, “We have to get it right. We have to make sure it's not an undue burden on everyday New Yorkers and we have to make sure it's not going to impact our recovery. If she's looking at analyzing other ways we can do it, I'm all for it."

A host of state and regional elected officials released statements in support of the governor’s decision, including:

Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski said, “Governor Hochul is right to indefinitely halt congestion pricing. This is the wrong proposal at the wrong time for too many New Yorkers.”

Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino said, “I have long been opposed to congestion pricing and the burden it would place on Hudson Valley residents. Now is not the time to add extra costs to our neighbors as they are still trying to survive and bounce back from the affordability crisis we are in.”

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, “I applaud Governor Hochul for examining the consequences and impact congestion pricing would have on New Yorkers. We know many of our City of Yonkers residents work in New York City and the extra tolls would not have been sustainable or efficient for them.”

Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano said, “Thank you governor for listening to the people. This additional cost would be devastating to many commuters from Orange County.”

Clarkstown Town Supervisor George Hoehmann said, “This is a huge win for all of us who have fought to stop NYC politicians from further hurting the suburbs by imposing this ridiculous tax. We already have a significant value gap between what we pay the MTA and what we receive in services. Happy that the governor has stepped in to stop this plan.”

Among those who bristled at the governor’s decision included a number of Manhattan lawmakers and the Citizens Budget Commission.

Citizens Budget Commission President Andrew S. Rein stated, “Congestion pricing is the transit trifecta—providing critical funding for transit, reducing emissions, and easing congestion. We should be staying the course. All sectors should contribute to improving transit, including drivers. Furthermore, it is a regional system that underpins the state’s economic engine. Sharing the cost of investment is the best strategy for the environment and the economy.”

He added, “All should be acutely aware that alternatives that raise New York’s already highest-in-the-nation business taxes or deplete the State’s precious reserves come with real consequences. Our transit system urgently needs investment to bring it to a state of good repair; we should not be hurtling towards more ‘Summers of Hell.’ The state should release the funds it has committed to the current capital plan and ensure the MTA speeds up its investments in state of good repair work. More delays only risk the system’s stability and will cost more. No question that congestion pricing is a big change, and there rarely is a perfect time. That's why we have always said—the program should be closely monitored and fine-tuned to meet its objectives.”

John Jordan

Editor, Real Estate In-Depth

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