MTA’s plan to begin congestion pricing paused by Gov. Kathy Hochul

June 5, 2024
That system that would have charged drivers a daily fee for entering the Congestion Relief Zone in Manhattan and generate revenue for MTA’s capital program was set to begin June 30.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has directed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to “indefinitely delay” its Central Business District Tolling Program, which was set to take effect June 30

The program, informally referred to as congestion pricing, would have charged drivers a daily fee for entering the Manhattan’s Congestion Relief Zone, which stretched from 60th St. south and excluded FDR Drive, West Side Highway/Route 9A and the Hough L. Carey Tunnel connections to West Street. 

In her pre-recorded announcement, Gov. Hochul explained the congestion pricing system was developed pre-pandemic, noting circumstances have changed and the economic recovery of the city is “by no means complete.”

“After careful consideration, I have come to the diff decision that implementing the planned congestion pricing system risked too many unintended consequences for New Yorkers at this time. For this reason, I have directed MTA to indefinitely pause the program,” said Gov. Hochul. 

Gov. Hochul stated she remains committed to the goals for the system – reducing congestion and funding transit – but said she is concerned New York residents will not see the congestion pricing system as an encouragement to take transit but a reason to skip a trip to the city entirely. 

“I remain committed to these investments in public transit. We need to make the MTA service more accessible and reliable without the projected revenue coming just from congestion pricing,” said Gov. Hochul, adding the state set aside funding for the MTA to backfill its capital program and explaining additional funding sources are being explored. 

In February, MTA outlined several projects that would be put on hold if congestion pricing was not implemented, including acquisition of new railcars and locomotives, accessibility and station modernization projects, electric bus purchases and state of good repair projects. 

Reactions to the pause in congestion pricing

There were dozens of statements issued from leaders across the region, state and nation following the governor’s announcement. 

Longtime opponents to the pricing system, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (R-NJ-5), both expressed gratitude toward Gov. Hochul for instituting the pause. 

“Although we have had a difference of opinion with our colleagues in New York on congestion pricing implementation, we have always had a shared vision for growing our regional economy, investing in infrastructure, protecting our environment and creating good-paying jobs on both sides of the Hudson River. We fully embrace the notion that the success of Manhattan is inextricably linked to the prosperity of the entire Tri-State Area,” said Gov. Murphy. 

The Transport Workers Union of America opposed congestion pricing implementation without significant transit service improvements or flexibility in toll pricing to support its members living in the outer boroughs and suburbs of New York City who work for MTA.

“This isn't about convenience; it's about ensuring that the implementation of congestion pricing doesn't compromise the safety, efficiency and accessibility of the transit system. It's about advocating for a plan that genuinely serves the common good, with necessary improvements and safeguards in place,” said Richard Davis, president of TWU Local 100.

Kate Slevin, executive vice president of the Regional Plan Association, said the delay in implementation will “hurt millions of transit riders.”

“It means delays on critical transit projects like the faster service on the A/C line, station upgrades and bus electrification, along with all the jobs that they bring. This move is a total betrayal of New Yorkers and our climate. We call on the governor to stay firm to her commitment to move congestion pricing forward and not cave to politics,” said Slevin. 

Citizens Budget Commission President Andrew S. Rein also called on the governor to stay the course, calling congestion pricing the “transit trifecta” in that it provides transit funding, reduces emissions and eases congestion. 

“All sectors should contribute to improving transit, including drivers. Furthermore, it is a regional system that underpins the state’s economic engine. Sharing the cost of the investment is the best strategy for the environment and the economy,” said Rein.  

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.