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MTA Board passes final vote on congestion pricing plan

CNN  —  Congestion pricing is coming to New York soon with transit officials officially approving the toll structure at a hearing on Wednesday. The controversial plan, which advocates and lawmakers say will mitigate traffic and help fund repairs to key infrastructure, is the first of its kind for a major US city. New York City will soon join other cities such as London, Stockholm and Singapore, with the new congestion pricing plan. The toll for drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street is expected to start around June 15. An official date will be unveiled once a federal review on the tolling structure is completed and when critical infrastructure for the tolling, such as more license plate readers, are installed, according to a transit official. “New York has more traffic than anywhere in the United States and now we’re doing something about it,” MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said at a news conference after the vote. Passenger and commercial vehicles will now pay $15 once they enter the “congestion relief zone,” which is below 60th Street in Manhattan. During the overnight hours when there is less traffic, the toll drops to $3.75. The charge will only happen once a day. Trucks and some buses will be charged either $24 or $36 during the day below 60th Street depending on both their size and function. At night, that toll drops to either $6 or $9. Yellow taxi, green cab and black car passenger cars will pay a $1.25 toll for every trip through a zone. Uber, Lyft and other ride share vehicles will pay $2.50. Emergency vehicles and others carrying people with disabilities will be exempt from the toll. School buses contracted with the New York City Department of Education, buses providing scheduled commuter services open to the public, commuter vans licensed with the Taxi and Limousine Commission and specialized government vehicles will also be exempt. Low-income drivers will get a 50% discount and a tax credit is available for low-income residents south of 60th Street. “One of the biggest goals of this is to finally attack congestion but the other side of the equation is to invest more in transit,” Lieber said. The money generated from the tolls is expected to help some subway stations add elevators to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, repair signals and help train lines have more capacity and be more reliable. The money will also go to other projects, such as Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway. “We can do a lot of things and we can keep this very old system in decent shape so that it doesn’t fall apart like it did in 2017,” Lieber said, referencing a period when New York’s subways experienced service interruption and overcrowding. “We have better service because of the investments we made. We want to make more like that.” Leading up to day one of the congestion pricing plan, the MTA says it will increase service on 12 subway lines, implement a redesign of the bus network, and make the largest service increase in Long Island Rail Road history, according to a news release. Despite the approval and expected implementation of the tolling plan, multiple lawsuits, such as one spearheaded by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, designed to block the plan, are still pending. “We’re confident we’re going to have the right outcome,” Lieber said in reference to the lawsuits.