Group Threatens Lawsuit Against Congestion Pricing Plan

( – On Wednesday June 12, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander announced in a press conference that he is assembling a coalition of “legal experts and potential plaintiffs” to defend the city’s proposed congestion pricing program.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared an indefinite pause for the plan on June 5. The congestion pricing plan which would charge tolls for certain areas, different times of day, or specific types of vehicles was set to begin on June 30. Lander has said that if the congestion pricing program does is not implemented by the original start date, he will be pursuing legal action.

The plan has wide support among Democrats, environmental groups, and healthcare organizations. Democrat Representative Ritchie Torres from the Bronx noted that the program would have funded air quality projects to combat air pollution, asthma, and greenhouse gas emissions. According to research out of Columbia University, the South Bronx has one of the highest death rates from asthma in the country. Lander and many others have questioned whether Hochul has the legal authority to halt the program.

While many are dismayed by Hochul’s decision, some polling suggests that up to 70% of residents oppose congestion pricing which would charge them $15 to use certain roads during peak hours. The plan could cost commuters up to $5,000 per year to drive into Manhattan on a routine basis. The city is also already facing legal challenges to the program which some have characterized as unconstitutional. Supporters for the initiative often mention improved emergency vehicle time. However, Glenn Corbett of John Jay College of Criminal Justice says that improved response time in one area could just shift the problem from “one location to another”.

While Hochul has placed an indefinite pause on the current program she has also expressed support for its overall goals. She and many others have expressed concern for the financial hit the plan would cause to people already struggling to get by. However, the money the program would have brought in were already allocated to various programs that will now be short of significant funding. Alternate plans to bring in the funding without causing financial hardships to the residents are being considered. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is expected to propose a revised plan to the governor and the state legislature soon.

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