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Gov. Hochul Hits Brakes on NYC Congestion Pricing Plan

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that she is indefinitely pausing the implementation of the NYC congestion pricing program. The plan would have charged tolls of $9 to $23 for vehicles entering Manhattan below 61st Street starting this summer.

Hochul cited concerns about further burdening New York’s economic recovery and working-class residents already grappling with affordability issues. The tolls risked creating “unintended consequences” that could “undercut” the city’s momentum emerging from the pandemic, she said in a video statement.

“A $15 charge may not seem like a lot to someone who has the means, but it can break the budget of a middle-class household,” Hochul stated. “I cannot add another burden to working-class New Yorkers.”

The embattled NYC congestion pricing plan had been years in the making and was set to launch on June 30th. It was aimed at reducing gridlock and raising an estimated $1 billion annually in revenue for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for transit improvements.

Hochul’s announcement now brings about a major U-turn after she had previously championed the environmental and economic benefits of congestion pricing. She did not clarify how the huge expected revenue shortfall for the MTA’s capital budget would be addressed.

“We’ve already had to prepare for the possibility that congestion pricing could be delayed,” was all Hochul said, adding her administration would explore “other funding sources” and remain committed to the MTA’s promised upgrades.

The move drew outrage from transportation advocates who accused Hochul of caving to political pressure. But New Jersey officials who had vehemently opposed the tolling plan celebrated the decision as a victory for commuters.

With the future of the NYC congestion pricing plan now mired in uncertainty, the city faces renewed challenges in managing crippling traffic while securing funds to modernize its ailing transit system.

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