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Taxi drivers oppose congestion pricing plan

Posted: 6:31 PM, Jan 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-17 18:31:48-05

New York State Justice Lynn Kotler ruled Thursday that the restraining order blocking Manhattan congestion pricing on yellow cabs and for-hire vehicles will remain in effect until Jan. 31.

The extension is to to allow attorneys on both sides to make more arguments in the case.

Before Thursday’s hearing, taxi drivers, advocates and union representatives rallied to fight congestion pricing on the steps of the courthouse. They argued increasing the price of a cab ride would turn customers away and hurt there already struggling business.

“We don’t want to see anymore suicides, we don’t want anymore bankruptcies. We need our governor and state legislators to show us some mercy," said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

The fee was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, but taxi drivers and medallion owners filed a lawsuit against the state’s controversial plan.

It will cost an extra $2.50 for taxis, $2.75 for Uber, Lyft or other black cars and 75 cents for app ride-shares for rides below 96th Street in Manhattan.

“Listening to the arguments from the state...was really hard to stomach. An utter disregard for the fact that people are really struggling," said Desai.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the fees will help the congestion problem and fund the MTA’s aging subway system. State attorneys also argued the drivers and their unions knew about the legislation for eight months and do not understand why it’s now an issue. Yellow cab drivers, like Nikolai Hunt, feel the MTA should not ride on their backs to rebuild the subways. He says it would only cause financial hardship to them and their families.

“What [do] they want from me? They want my blood? My organs? My kidney? My heart? What they want from me?" said Hunt.

Both parties will return to court Jan. 31.