MTA faces backlash from business owners over congestion pricing

MTA faces backlash from business owners over congestion pricing

MANHATTAN, N.Y. (PIX11) — The MTA is moving forward with plans to begin charging a $15 toll to travel below 60th street in Manhattan – effective June 30th.

Local residents and business owners are raising concerns over congestion pricing and point to the potential negative impacts it could have on their neighborhoods.

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A robust coalition, which includes supporters from Little Italy, Upper Manhattan, Queens, and State Island hopes a class action lawsuit can put enough pressure on the MTA to produce a new environmental impact statement.

“This is such bad news for us,” said District Leader Justin Yu. “We have been here almost 200 years but this congestion pricing is going to kill us. We’re dying here. MTA, have you heard us?”

The Chinatown Coalition cited recent data showing the densely packed neighborhood already suffers from an 11 percent business vacancy rate.

Little Italy-based attorney Edward Cuccia added, “I’m Italian. I live here. I work here. I cry everyday when I see the deterioration of these neighborhoods. If congestion pricing comes into effect, who is going to come to Little Italy?”

John McCarthy, the MTA’s Chief of Police and External Affairs told PIX11 News, “We are responding to their pro-traffic lawsuit in Court, where a 4,000 page environmental assessment will make the case that congestion relief delivers less traffic, safer streets, cleaner air, and more investment in the mass transit most people use.”

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Meanwhile, former City Council Member Kathryn Freed says that is not enough. “If they are forced to do an environment impact statement, they have to mitigate the damage they are doing.”

The MTA is arguing that an estimated $2 billion in new revenue is essential to maintaining and expanding a sprawling mass transit system used annually by several million riders.

Susan Lee, president of New Yorkers Against Congestion, says someone needs to call timeout on the plan – before it’s too late. “If this is going to be the first in the country, we need to get it right and this is not right. We cannot keep going back to the drawing board once it’s implemented.”

Toll reader infrastructure is already up along 60th Street in Manhattan.

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