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Hell Gate Supports Congestion Pricing But Only With These Sensible Exemptions

Mayor Eric Adams said he believes that there should be exemptions to congestion pricing. We agree.

11:19 AM EDT on June 30, 2022

Some people just NEED to drive into Manhattan (Christopher Robbins)

New York City's traffic congestion is the worst in the nation, deaths on city streets are up, and the plan to charge vehicles a toll to drive into Manhattan below 60th Street that was supposed to begin in January of 2021 has been indefinitely delayed by politics and bureaucracy. But earlier this week, a squeak of hope.

The MTA's Chair and CEO Janno Lieber told reporters on Wednesday that the transit agency had finally answered the extremely long list of questions the federal government had before this extremely complex plan to "charge a toll on vehicles" was implemented. Per the law that the New York State legislature passed in 2019, the MTA will soon convene the Traffic Mobility Review Board, whose job is to set the amount of the tolls, and decide who will be tolled.

The law the state passed to create congestion pricing stipulates that the tolls must raise $1 billion dollars every year for the MTA, so the transit agency can raise $15 billion in bonds and literally keep the trains moving. The law also exempts three classes of people from tolls: emergency vehicles, disabled New Yorkers, and Manhattanites who own a car and earn less than $60,000/year.

Mayor Eric Adams believes there should be more exemptions. From the Post:

"We need to be clear that there should be a level of exemptions that we should put in place [so] that we're not overburdening New Yorkers for using our streets," Adams said Wednesday at an unrelated press conference in Lower Manhattan.

Adams — who called for congestion pricing exemptions while campaigning for mayor — cited "low-income New Yorkers that must use vehicles" as among those deserving of relief, along with people traveling to chemotherapy treatments.

"It shouldn't be just a blanket of we're not exempting anyone, and it can't be just city vehicles. I'm open to real conversation, and hear[ing] from those who must use vehicles," Hizzoner said. "It's different from being a luxury [from] a necessity. And there are some cases [where] I believe it isn't explicit and I'm open to that conversation."

Adams is right. This toll designed to improve mass transit and slow the climate crisis shouldn't overburden the minority of New Yorkers who own cars and use them to drive into Manhattan below 60th Street. To assist the work of the Traffic Mobility Review Board, here is a short list of potential exemptions that allow for important exceptions:

-Police officers

-Firefighters

-Correction officers

-Friends and family of police officers and firefighters and correction officers (might as well because they are going to find a way to duplicate the exemption hardware anyway)

-Teachers (who will teach the children?)

-Sanitation workers (New York’s strongest!!!!)

-Ghostbusters

-Drivers on an extremely urgent appointment to see their GI doctor

-Vanloads of orphans on a trip to the M&M Store

-New Yorkers who left their phone in Central Park after saving a drowning puppy or other similarly adorable mammal (no birds)

-Lost families in 1988 Oldsmobile station wagons

-People towing jet-skis (jet-skis = swagger)

-Mr. and Mrs. Met

-You and your boys headed to Zero Bond (winter/fall bachelor weekends only)

-Santa

-SUVs en route to picking up an extremely sick Craigslist find (>200 lbs, except flatscreen TVs)

-The Dreaded Nazgul, un-dead and hunting for the ring of power, but who also got turned around on the BQE and just needs to pass through really quickly

-Religious exemptions (Christianity, etc.)

-Job creators (must travel in special “Job Creator” lane on new private bridge currently under construction)

-Drivers who ask the booth agent nicely

-Peloton delivery trucks

-People who just want to spend a nice weekend in the city and catch a Broadway matinee

-Throuples who live in condo buildings in Fort Lee, New Jersey

-People who live in the exclusion zone but also have to get to their second home upstate

-#Vanlifers

-Subaru owners with a COEXIST AND a Bernie Sanders 2016 bumper sticker who live in a $2.5 million brownstone in Bed-Stuy

-The Pluckitblogazine van (if you know, you know)

-2006 Toyota Scion xB owners

-Libertarians with passenger-seat cameras recording their automotive interactions with authority figures

-Brock Pierce

-Robert Moses

-Vin Diesel

-Esther Wang

-Former governors with extensive internal-combustion-engine collections

-Coastal media elites

-Parents

-Prospective parents, current or former children of parents

-Mobile advertising trucks

-The starting lineup of the New York Knicks (if team is below .500)

-Kyrie Irving (“Tolls are for ordinary people.”)

-People who are irate there’s no gas stations anymore in Manhattan (“It’s like they don’t even want you to drive there or anything.”)

-Giant GMC trucks on the way to pick up children from school (one driver only, cargo bed never used)

-Private carting trucks going 80 mph (personal use only)

- Uber/Lyft drivers

-NYU parents in from Montclair

-Anyone involved in the “waste management” business

-People who would like to take the East River bridges and avoid tolls

-People in cars

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