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Congestion cameras are pictured on First Ave. and E. 60th St. in Manhattan on Thursday, March 20, 2024. (Barry Williams for ϲʿֱ)
Congestion cameras are pictured on First Ave. and E. 60th St. in Manhattan on Thursday, March 20, 2024. (Barry Williams for ϲʿֱ)
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Five years after state lawmakers wrote into law, the board of the MTA voted Wednesday to approve the final tolling plan, setting a base toll of $15 to drive into Midtown and lower Manhattan.

“Big day for the MTA, huge day for the region,” agency Chairman Janno Lieber said Wednesday following the vote. “New York has more traffic than any place in the United States, and now we’re doing something about it.”

The pricing plan — the final MTA vote required before congestion pricing can be put into place — passed with 11 votes in favor.

David Mack, Nassau County’s representative to the board, was the lone opposing vote.

John Samuelsen, international president of the Transport Workers Union and a nonvoting member of the board, was not present. The union boss, an early supporter of the congestion pricing plan has since become a vocal critic.

Two voting members, city appointee Dan Garodnick and gubernatorial pick John-Ross Rizzo, were also absent.

Congestion pricing cameras at W. 60th St. and Broadway are pictured Friday, March 15, 2024 in Manhattan, New York.(Barry Williams for ϲʿֱ)
A congestion pricing camera at W. 60th St. and Broadway. (Barry Williams for ϲʿֱ)

Under the plan approved Wednesday, the toll to enter Midtown and lower Manhattan will be $15 for cars, vans, pickup trucks and other small vehicles — as long as they have E-ZPass.

Those motorists entering through an already-tolled crossing — the Holland, Lincoln, Battery or Midtown tunnels — will receive a $5 discount, making the congestion toll $10.

All drivers will receive a 75% discount off the regular toll overnight, between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. That means that during those hours, the fee for cars will drop from $15 down to $3.75. But during those hours, the $5 tunnel discount will not apply.

The discounts and base tolls will scale depending on the size of the vehicle. Motorcyclists’ base toll will be $7.50, and their tunnel-crossing credit will be $2.50.

Smaller trucks, like box trucks, will be charged $24, while big rigs will rack up a $36 base fee.

Drivers in vehicles without E-ZPass will be charged 50% more — $22.50 for cars — and will not be eligible for the tunnel-crossing discount.

The MTA can also bump the toll up by 25% on days the city deems “gridlock alert days” — typical high-traffic periods like the winter holidays or during the United Nations General Assembly.

Congestion pricing cameras at W. 60th St. and Broadway are pictured Friday, March 15, 2024 in Manhattan, New York.(Barry Williams for ϲʿֱ)
Congestion pricing cameras at W. 60th St. and Broadway in Manhattan. (Barry Williams for ϲʿֱ)

Transit and commuter buses — whether operated by the MTA, another public agency or a private company — will be exempt from the toll, so long as they are open to the public and run on a regular schedule, as will smaller, TLC-licensed commuter vans.

School buses under contract with the city’s Department of Education will also be exempt. All other buses, be they private intercity charters or employee shuttles, will be tolled as trucks according to their size.

The plan is responsible, under state law, for raising $1 billion a year to fund the MTA’s capital program.

Notably absent from the MTA’s few last-minute tweaks was any adjustment for the city’s yellow taxi cab fleet.

The plan will add a $1.25 surcharge onto the taxi meter and a $2.50 charge onto Uber, Lyft, and other app-based rideshare hails when those cars enter the congestion zone.

Cabbies have long demanded an exemption from the congestion toll, arguing that they already field two surcharges to fund the MTA.

Congestion pricing cameras at are pictured on West End Ave. looking North from W. 60th St. Friday, March 15, 2024 in Manhattan, New York.(Barry Williams for ϲʿֱ)
Congestion pricing cameras are pictured on West End Ave. looking north from W. 60th St.(Barry Williams for ϲʿֱ)

Two of Mayor Adams’ representatives on the board echoed those concerns.

“We remain concerned about the plight of taxi drivers,” said Meera Joshi — the city’s Deputy Mayor for Operations and a newly minted MTA board member.

“I’d advocate for the state to reexamine the 2018 law that created the second congestion fee that’s on taxis as a pathway for possible relief, if necessary,” she said.

Midori Valdivia, another Adams appointee, had previously been a vocal supporter of a yellow cab exemption. “I’m really interested in how this will impact the taxi industry,” she said. “I am really interested in seeing the data.”

B’hairavi Desai, head of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, was removed from the meeting along with five taxi drivers after interrupting the vote with chants of “Exempt the yellow cabs!”

The MTA’s approval of the tolling structure sends the complete plan to federal regulators for a final nod, a process that is not expected to take more than a few weeks.

MTA officials plan to put the congestion pricing program into action in mid-June, pending the resolution of sets of legal challenges in federal court.

The office of N.J. Gov Phil Murphy has sued to stop the congestion pricing plan, arguing that it will cause pollution by changing regional traffic patterns. Oral arguments are set to begin in that case next month.

A consolidated docket of New York suits arguing the same is expected to be heard in May.

MTA officials say traffic patterns were exhaustively studied, and steps will be taken to mitigate pollution where truck traffic may increase.

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