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Governor Hochul Hits Brakes On Congestion Pricing At Last Minute

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A long-term plan to toll motorists driving into Manhattan’s most congested areas, aimed at easing traffic and raising billions for transit upgrades, has stalled again less than a month before its scheduled launch.

On Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an indefinite delay of the June 30 start of congestion pricing, which would have made New York the first city in North America to adopt a tolling system similar to those in London, Stockholm, and Singapore to improve air quality.

Instead of imposing once-daily tolls and what she described as “undue strain” on those driving into the congestion zone south of 60th Street by the end of the month, Hochul stated she will collaborate with city and federal officials to find alternative ways to generate the $15 billion the MTA had projected for transit system improvements from the tolls.

“There never is only one path forward,” Hochul said in a pre-recorded video released at noon. “Together, I am confident we’ll be able to deliver the world class public transit that riders deserve, ensure a cleaner planet for future generations and continue to fuel the vitality and the comeback of NYC.”

The governor’s last-minute decision enraged environmental and transit advocates who had championed congestion pricing for years. The policy, approved by state lawmakers in 2019, faced numerous roadblocks and court challenges.

“It’s not like she’s been silent on congestion pricing,” Jaqi Cohen, director of climate and equity policy at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, told THE CITY. “It’s just a complete betrayal on where she’s been, it’s a betrayal.”

Reports from Politico and The New York Times on Tuesday evening about Hochul reconsidering congestion pricing sparked outrage among the plan’s supporters, culminating in a rally at Hochul’s Midtown office before her official announcement.

Protestors gathered outside the governor’s Third Avenue office with signs reading “Gridlock Hochul” and chanted “Flip the switch!”—a reference to the scanners that need activation to toll motorists.

“When your train doesn’t come on time, remember that [Hochul] had the chance to stand up for transit riders,” said Renae Reynolds, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “If you are not going to stand up for transit riders now, when will you?”

The plan is intended to generate billions for transit improvements, including subway signal upgrades, the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway, and new buses, subway cars, and commuter rail trains.

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