getting around

People Are Still Quite Worked Up About Congestion Pricing

Photo: MTA

The public-comment period on the Transit Mobility Review Board’s recommended congestion-pricing tolling-structure recommendations ends on March 11, but the final public hearings are this week. After nearly four months of arguing since the proposed tolls were first released, and after nearly five years of arguing since the plan passed in the State Legislature, the diehards who wanted to yell in public about traffic for an uninterrupted two minutes had just two shots left: 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday. This was not lost on at least one participant in the morning session, who thanked the agency for the opportunity to speak, since “otherwise we’re basically just arguing on the apps like NextDoor.” (He opposed the tolls.)

The morning hearing was capped at 120 speakers, but as the MTA facilitator noted, perhaps in a moment of understatement, “Turnout today is high.” Somewhere at the end of all of this, the city will have a system to charge cars, trucks, buses, taxis, and motorcycles entering Manhattan below 60th Street a fee to reduce traffic and raise money for the MTA. Until then, we have fights.

For Congestion Pricing

“[Traffic] causes noise pollution as frustrated drivers lean on their horns, literally increasing the blood pressure for all those around. That noise wakes me up in the morning when I stay at my girlfriend’s place in the Lower East Side.”

“Today I’m very sorry to see how much our public space is clogged with huge hot cars that fume and roar; they’re almost like sacred beasts, and we barely notice that they kill and maim pedestrians and cyclists. And the saddest part is our cars are driving us all towards extinction.”

Against Congestion Pricing

“You should all be ashamed of yourselves. The MTA should be ashamed.”

“I will see you on April 6 when we are in court.”

“In a city where subway crime is constantly in the headlines and many New Yorkers, especially women and the elderly, feel unsafe on public transportation, the car is really the only viable mode of access to get to stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues on Manhattan Island.”

“I’m a resident, you know, so this is very unfair and unfair to my mom … And then also what’s going on with the Queensboro Bridge, is this a secret toll?”

“This makes no sense. It’s impossible to understand the concept of how this is decided. I suggest you go back to the drawing board and look at how you better design the process of assessing fines. I leave this diagram for you to take a peek at.”

“Thank you for giving us a chance, the citizens, to come and speak, because otherwise we’re basically just arguing on the apps like NextDoor and other kinds of social media.”

“When I take the liberty of trying to be a Good Samaritan and take an infirm person who lives in our community two blocks north to get to 61st Street, I go west onto Tenth Avenue, go north on Tenth Avenue, turn on 62nd Street, go south on Ninth Avenue to 61st Street, then after having dropped the person or leaving person who’s infirm at the doctor’s office, I then head south on Broadway to 60th, turn back into my garage.”

“If you’ve ever given lifesaving chemotherapy to a baby, you know what I’m talking about.”

“As a gesture of care for [my wife’s] sacrifices and to help keep her sanity and the sanity of our household, I try to drive and pick her up two to three times a week.”

“As a car owner, I don’t think I should be penalized because I can afford myself a car and live in Manhattan.”

People Are Still Quite Worked Up About Congestion Pricing