Outrage explodes over NYC traffic congestion fee branded as ‘$15 ransom’: ‘Special place in hell for you’

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) held its first meeting on a planned $15 congestion fee to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan and attendees torched the board over it.

New Yorkers didn’t hold back in the Thursday meeting at the MTA’s first-of-its-kind public hearing on the hot topic.

“Opponents of the toll for drivers traveling south of 60th Street argued the plan would be another crippling cost for working-class drivers, particularly in the outer boroughs or other parts of the tri-state area that lack viable public transportation,” the New York Post reported.

“They also pointed out the MTA already loses millions of dollars yearly to commuters who evade paying subway or bus fares while listing numerous other problems for the beleaguered transit agency,” the media outlet added.

(Video Credit: PIX11 News)

Proponents of the program claim that the additional funds will fund desperately needed improvements while cutting down on pollution and traffic in Midtown. They also assert that it will lead to faster response times for emergency vehicles and safer streets.

Over 100 speakers vigorously disagreed with those claims and raged during the hours-long hearing. One driver who resides in the congestion zone branded the fee a “$15 ransom.”

A TLC taxi driver named Raul Rivera raged at the board, “For each and every one of you… there is a special place in hell for you. Don’t you forget that. Lucifer waits for you. He waits for you. Shame on you. I don’t know how you sleep at night.”

After his impassioned speech, the board members had him escorted out of the meeting.

“For many of us who are struggling to make ends meet, an additional daily fee represents a substantial burden that will force sacrifices in other areas such as food,” resident and business owner Linda Nicholas contended the New York Post wrote.

“Now you’re telling me I have to pay a $15 ransom to be able to get back to my apartment because I have not been lucky with my address,” she railed. “Now you’re gonna make me pay, putting all your debt on my back and the backs of downtown New Yorkers who are struggling to commute, most who are trying to get by,” adding the extra fee would “put me over the edge.”

Another woman called the plan “horrifying,” according to the New York Post.

“I hate driving to work. I hate it. But there is no public transportation of any kind that will get me to my job on time on a daily basis,” Jane Riback, 68, complained. “I would love to take a train but one does not exist.”

A Memorial Sloan Kettering radiation oncologist called for her patients to be exempted from the fee.

“My patients get daily radiation for four to six weeks and are often too sick to use public transportation,” Chino remarked during the hearing. “They may be unsteady or nauseous or immunocompromised. Taking the subway can put them at a real level of harm. This congestion fee is essentially a cancer tax on people who need medical care to survive.”

US Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) called the congestion pricing a “slap in the face” to outer borough residents.

“The once-a-day fee for passenger car drivers would be assessed on weekdays between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. and weekends between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Outside of peak hours, the toll would be $3.75,” the New York Post explained.

“While drivers on the FDR Drive, the West Side Highway, and the Battery Park underpass are exempt from the tolling program, they will be charged if they exit onto a street in the congestion zone,” the outlet said.

A carveout is being implemented for those with disabilities who have to travel into the Central Business District.

The fee is causing many to reconsider their jobs or living in New York City. EMS personnel, firefighters, and police officers all believe they should be exempted from the fee as well.

“MTA officials anticipate the agency would rake in about $1 billion annually from the congestion fee that would go toward various improvements for trains and buses, including a Second Avenue Subway extension, new computerized signals, and station upgrades,” the New York Post reported.

It’s expected the program could go into effect as soon as mid-June.

Another hearing will be held on Friday morning. Two more will be held on Monday morning and Monday evening. The MTA is also accepting written comments on the plan through March 11.


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