Is it Truly the End of NYC Congestion Pricing?

Gov. Hochul’s surprise move to suspend the program, which would have started this summer, could be illegal.

2 minute read

June 11, 2024, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge entering Manhattan. | Stephen Finn / Adobe Stock

New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement that New York City’s congestion pricing program will not go forward as planned came as a shock to many, and now some critics of the move say it could be illegal.

But, as David Meyer explains in Streetsblog NYC, the governor could successfully put an end to the program because the Federal Highway Administration has yet to take a key step: signing a formal agreement with the MTA and city and state departments of transportation.

Nonetheless, the 2019 law that established congestion pricing said the state and MTA ‘shall’ implement tolls to enter Manhattan below 60th Street. Observers including U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres and the Daily News Editorial Board argue that that language — not ‘may’ or ‘can,’ but ‘shall’ — compels Hochul and the MTA to enact the tolls.

According to Meyer, “Several constituencies could sue under Article 78 of state Civil Practice Law, which requires state or city officials to comply with their legal obligations under state law, but the memo suggests MTA board members would have the strongest, fastest case in court.”

In a response statement, the MTA says the governor’s axing of the program would jeopardize major capital investments: “Modernization and improvement projects like electric buses, accessible (ADA) stations and new signals will likely need to be deprioritized to protect and preserve the basic operation and functionality of this 100+ year old system.”

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