To: MTA Bridges & Tunnels; New York Department of Transportation; Federal Highway Administration New York Division

From: Americans for Tax Reform

Re: Central Business District Tolling Program

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across New York, I write in opposition to the Central Business District Tolling Program, better known as congestion pricing.

Congestion pricing is a blunt tool, meant to destroy economic activity and travel using new fees and mandates. Rather than improving public transit, traffic flows, or making it easier to operate a taxi or rideshare, congestion pricing must punish people to the point they no longer go into Manhattan.

Congestion pricing is a tax. It is a regressive tax on New Yorkers going to work, businesses that are struggling, and visitors to New York – piled on top of the highest tax burden in the nation. In fact, by taxing trucks, congestion pricing will drive up the cost of everything for every New Yorker.

This regressive policy will hurt those who can least afford it. It will hit low and middle-income commuters who must drive to work or who feel unsafe in the subway system. It will hit taxi and rideshare drivers who help reduce congestion by letting one car service many passengers. Their ability to earn a living will be hurt, and costs on passengers will rise.

With the cost of goods being trucked in going up thanks to congestion pricing, out-of-control inflation will get worse at the store. Low and middle-income New Yorkers who are already struggling to make ends meet will have to pay more when they shop. The city is already unaffordable, and congestion pricing will make that problem worse.

Where is the new revenue that is being taken from people going? To the very transit system whose mismanagement and failure to provide good service makes traffic worse.

The MTA has plenty of resources, with a budget north of $18 billion – still growing despite a pandemic exodus from the city. The capital plan is over $54 billion and would still be $39.8 billion without the expected revenue from congestion pricing – more than the capital budget in 2019. On top of that, the agency received a cushy federal bailout.

The agency has wasted resources in building major projects, and investigations have turned up mismanagement. Not only is congestion pricing an unaffordable, regressive tax, turning the money over to the MTA is a great way to waste much of it.

Worse, the congestion tax windfall removes the incentive for the MTA to improve city transit to attract riders. Instead of reacting as fed-up riders take revenue away from the mass transit system, the MTA has no reason to care as congestion pricing turns new tax dollars over to the MTA.

Congestion pricing will make reform at the MTA more difficult, while regressively taxing those who can least afford the burden and driving up the cost of everything. The new tax will likely be expanded to other regions of the city, bringing these negative impacts to even more New Yorkers. It should be rejected.


Grover Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform