DRIVERS have expressed outrage at a major US city imposing an additional fine on motorists as part of efforts to deal with traffic congestion.
On Thursday, the City of New York’s Traffic Mobility Board considered whether some people should pay more congestion fees than others.
Controversy over what to do about New York City’s congestion is mounting with the planned introduction of fees less than a year away.
Motorists continue to engage in an ongoing debate over who should pay how much, NBC affiliate New York 4 reported.
It was found that the congestion charge would be particularly unfair for people who earn their living on the road, such as taxi drivers, truck drivers and bus drivers.
“They’re ruining my business, now people don’t take the yellow cab,” one cab driver told the New York 4.
Andrew Greenblatt of the Independent Drivers Guild said: “Uber and Lyft drivers have been taxed since 2019 and now they are discussing introducing a second tax.”
He added: “It’s not the drivers who decide to come into town, it’s the passengers.”
It’s not clear what the base price for entry into Manhattan’s central business district will be right now, but it could range from $9 to $23 per trip, New York 4 reported.
The scanners along West End Avenue have been in use for weeks, but the congestion pricing plan is not scheduled to go into effect until spring 2024.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy sent a letter to the Traffic Mobility Board on Thursday, reportedly asking that drivers from his state be exempted from the tax.
The governor argued that New Jersey residents do not have to pay the toll to use the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels or the George Washington Bridge, and then pay an additional toll to get into Midtown Manhattan.
He also pointed out that the toll price should be applied as a credit towards the fee to ensure nationals don’t have to pay twice.
With motorists upset, New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against the federal government to block congestion fees.
Staten Island has reportedly said it will also sue the MTA over the fee schedule.
“If the city’s sidewalks are congested or crowded, then that means we should introduce a pedestrian tax to address sidewalk congestion,” argued Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella.
No new steps have been taken as to who might actually receive potential exemptions, although the city council held a recent hearing on the situation last week.
At the hearing, the city council said it had received requests to exempt residents of certain areas from the rule.
The Office also received requests specifically requesting that these categories of people not be exempted from the exception.
According to New York 4, medical patients or people living in areas without good public transport could be considered.
The revenue generated by the plan will help bring New York’s transit system up to date, which will benefit everyone, Transit President Richard Davey said.
“That’s what we can buy with congestion prices: investment in our transport system,” Davey began.
“That’s why we’re excited about the next step in the approval process.”