MANHATTAN, N.Y. (PIX11) — An anti-congestion pricing protest at the Tramway Plaza Park on Sunday was interrupted by people who support the plan to charge motorists anywhere from $9 to $23 to drive south of 60th Street in Manhattan.
Valerie Mason with the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association helped organize the Sunday afternoon demonstration. Mason said the plan will adversely affect lower-income residents and ride-share drivers who need to make a living by driving into Manhattan.
“Rich people can afford to pay this. It doesn’t impact them at all,” Mason said.
The group in favor of the congestion pricing plan used cowbells and horns to drown out a press conference by those opposed to the plan.
Jim Burke of the Riders Alliance told PIX11 News he supports the toll on cars because he believes it will reduce traffic and help fund improvements to New York City’s subway and buses.
“We need a big investment in buses, we need benches, places to sit. We need to keep the fares affordable, we need frequent service, and all those things can be done if you have a regular funding source,” Burke said.
The MTA said after paying the cost of running the Central Business District Program, “80% of the money would be used to improve and modernize New York City Transit, which runs the subway system and buses; 10% would go to Long Island Rail Road, and 10% to Metro-North Railroad.”
The implementation of the congestion pricing plan has been pushed back to 2024. The Federal Highway Administration is currently reviewing an Environmental Assessment released last summer by the MTA, NYS DOT and NYC DOT.
“It is essential that New York’s hundred-year-old public transportation system remains in a state of good repair, accessible to all, and continues to serve as the bedrock for the region’s economic health,” MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan said in a statement. “Plans to fund both the MTA’s capital and operating budgets recognize that transit is like air and water to those who depend on it to get to jobs, healthcare and everywhere else they need to go.”