Lawmaker calls on MTA to create one-seat ride from Rockland County to NYC

Some Rockland County residents want an exemption from paying the congestion pricing toll because they argue they are disadvantaged without a one-seat ride to Manhattan already.

News 12 Staff

Jul 29, 2022, 12:37 AM

Updated 722 days ago

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A state lawmaker is calling on the MTA to delay its congestion pricing plan and create a one-seat ride service from Rockland County to Manhattan.
Train riders in Rockland are weighing their options after the MTA announced that it is moving forward with congestion pricing as soon as the end of next year.
Some Rockland County residents want an exemption from paying the congestion pricing toll because they argue they are disadvantaged without a one-seat ride to Manhattan already.
The move would eventually make New York the first U.S. city to charge drivers an extra fee for entering its most congested areas.
"To make sure we don't get overwhelmed by single occupancy automobiles and that is a trade-off," said MTA CEO Janno Lieber.
But not a trade-off State Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick is willing to make for Rockland residents. He argues riders west of the Hudson River should not have to pay the toll because they do not have a direct train to the city.
Many commuters choose to drive to Manhattan to potentially save time, money, and headaches.
"I understand that the MTA needs money. It can't come on the back of people who have no other good options for getting into the city," Reichlin-Melnick says.
He would also like the MTA to appoint someone from Rockland to the board advising the project.
"We're going to be paying the cost of it and we should have a voice in how that voice cost is set," he added.
Riders have complained about issues with traveling by train for years. But for right now, they are not as concerned about how congestion pricing could impact how they travel to the city.
"I'd rather take the train instead of paying for the toll because, again with gas prices too, it is getting a little bit ridiculous. People don't want to pay for the gas plus the toll," says Alanna Orlino, of New City.
"I drove into the city the other day and would much rather take the train," said train rider Ruth Keffer.
The MTA will hold a series of hearings at the end of next month to collect feedback before the Federal Highway Administration must issue final approval.
Reichlin-Melnick knows it is unlikely he will delay the project but wants the board to consider exemptions or discounts for riders on this side of the river.
MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan told News 12, “The Central Business District Tolling Program is intended to reduce vehicle congestion, improve air quality and support investment in public transportation, which benefits everyone who works in or visits the Central Business District. The Traffic Mobility Review Board is required by statute and will review analysis on the effects of the program and consider arguments for credits, discounts or exemptions as it offers suggestions for the toll rates. The MTA, NYSDOT & NYCDOT will hold six virtual public hearings next month as part of the program’s environmental review that will offer opportunities for public comment on the program.”


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