New York Traffic

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has postponed the implementation of a tax on congested traffic, angering activists who have long promoted the scheme despite its unpopularity.

The plan was supposed to take effect on June 30 and would require passenger vehicle drivers below Manhattan’s 60th Street to pay at least $15 on top of preexisting tolls on bridges and tunnels across the city. Trucks would face charges of up to $36, depending on the size of the vehicle. The stated purpose of the plan is to reduce vehicle traffic and generate revenues for New York’s crisis-ridden public transit system.

Earlier this year, Gov. Hochul hailed “congestion pricing,” claiming that a congestion tax would result in “cleaner air, better transit and less gridlock.”  Hochul said that her sudden change of heart was due to a fear of unintended consequences for New Yorkers. These consequences would include increasing prices in local businesses, ridesharing services and general costs of living. Another consequence would be an expansion of city bureaucracy to manage and collect the tolls.

Sensing these and other dangers, an overwhelming majority of New York voters—around 63%—oppose the congestion tax, and the plan to impose it was already facing several lawsuits before Gov. Hochul’s surprise turnaround. Americans for Tax Reform previously sent a letter to New York’s transit authority arguing that the policy would hurt low and middle-income commuters and should therefore be abandoned.

This opposition has now born fruit; the congestion tax has been postponed, indefinitely. While some Democrats are crying murder, their leaders seem in agreement with Gov. Hochul’s decision. Andy Eichar, spokesman for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, has said that “Jeffries supports a temporary pause of limited duration to better understand the financial impact on working-class New Yorkers.”

New Yorkers should remain vigilant in case Kathy Hochul decides to lift this “pause” and once again pursues a congestion tax against the wishes of her constituents.