NYC Forces Drivers To Address Funding Gaps

New York City is imposing a new fee on citizens to help fund their badly-managed public transportation system; soon, New Yorkers will have to pay $15 in order to drive in Manhattan.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the plan into law in 2019. The law allegedly took decades to develop and has been hotly debated by the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board for the past five years. The board finally came to a unanimous decision on March 27, 2024.

In addition to charging $15 per day for cars entering Manhattan, the law will charge half as much for motorcycles and extra for trucks, depending on size.

These prices will be in effect during most of the day, with prices reduced by about 75% at night.

Now, even Cuomo opposes the decision.

“Many things have changed since 2019 and while it is the right public policy, we must seriously consider if now is the right time to enact it,” Cuomo wrote in an op-ed for the New York Post in March. “What impact will an additional $15 entry surcharge have on New York City’s recovery in this moment — when the migrant crisis, crime, homelessness, quality of life and taxes are all pressing problems?”

The MTA claims that the plan will reduce pollution and congestion in the area. The plan is expected to make about $1 billion per year, and decrease traffic by little more than 15%.

Many New Yorkers oppose the law, with groups of protesters interrupting the board’s deliberations at least twice, despite heavy security and police presence.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), a member of the Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus, says that the vote “ignored the voices of tens of thousands of families who begged them to do the right thing.”

“It just proves what we knew all along – the MTA doesn’t care about less traffic, helping the environment, or supporting families. They will do anything to cover their historic mismanagement – and the billions of dollars they bleed out every year.”

Despite Manhattan’s small footprint, the effects of the plan will be far-ranging.

Opponents of the plan point out that it will only increase pollution and traffic in surrounding neighborhoods, such as Queens and the Bronx, as drivers spend extra time on the road attempting to go around Manhattan and its expensive tolls.

Manhattan residents, who are overwhelmingly wealthier than those in surrounding neighborhoods, won’t have to pay the tolls.

Many of the city’s workplaces and office buildings are located in the area, making it much harder for commuters from New York’s suburbs, or neighboring New Jersey, to afford the necessary drive to work.

The law also impacts New York City’s ubiquitous cab drivers, as riders will be forced by the law to pay an extra $1.25 per ride.

Six different lawsuits have been raised against the plan so far, including one from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who says that the plan is an “unfair tolling scheme that discriminates against New Jerseyans, especially lower and middle-income drivers.”

“This is far from over and we will continue to fight this blatant cash grab,” he said in a statement. The MTA’s actions today are further proof that they are determined to violate the law in order to balance their budget on the backs of New Jersey commuters.”

The plan is intended to go into effect sometime in June 2024, but the barrage of lawsuits will likely affect this timeline.