Congestion Pricing Debates Hung Up On Who Gets Exemptions

Manhattan Congestion
Photo credit Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The plan to toll drivers coming into the busiest parts of Manhattan could become a reality soon, but debates continue in Albany over who should be exempt from the charges.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed congestion pricing in their 10-point plan to fund and fix the MTA last month, adding that anyone with “an identifiable hardship or limited ability to access medical facilities” wouldn’t have to pay.

The state Legislature has until an April 1 deadline to approve the plan for it to make it onto this year’s state budget. However, debates continued March 29 over who else should be exempt from tolls.

While lawmakers continue to debate if motorist on certain bridges and tunnels should get breaks, they now have to also consider if motorcyclists should be exempt completely.

“Well, if we don’t have to pay, I think that’d be great, but that’s not going to happen because this is New York City,” said one biker.

However, it’s quite possible that the exemption may pull through in the final draft of the congestion pricing plan.

“Two wheels, less pollution, way less wear and tear on the city itself,” said biker Justin Walters.

He says it’s a “no-brainer” that motorcyclists shouldn’t have to pay, but Assemblyman Robert Carroll notes that giving bikers a break would cause further complications in Albany.

He notes: “Should we charge a different hole for a two-door coupe verses a suburban?”

No specific toll amounts have been determined, but suggestions have been as high as $12 for passenger vehicles and $25 for trucks.

The congestion toll zone would include all areas below 60th Street.