Long Island small business owners worry MTA's congestion pricing plan will cost them
Opponents of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's congestion pricing plan say Long Island is going to be unfairly hit in the wallets.
Ben Jackson, who owns a general contracting company in Freeport, routinely travels to Manhattan for jobs multiple times a week. He says the congestion pricing plan will take a huge toll on his and other Long Island small businesses.
"The cost, unfortunately, will have to be passed onto the customer because that's the way it is," Jackson says.
The MTA's plan was approved by the Federal Highway Administration, meaning drivers could pay up to $23 to drive below 60th Street during peak hours except for FDR Drive, West Side Highway, Battery Park Underpass and any Hugh L. Carey Tunnel connecting to West Street.
Gov. Kathy Hochul says the plan will reduce traffic and improve air quality. The tolls will raise about $1 billion a year to help fund improvements to the MTA.
Village of Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy says some of the people who do business in New York City would be negatively affected by the congestion pricing plan.
"I'm afraid to think about the cost that it's going to incur to provide the services required in New York City," Kennedy says.
A part of the MTA's plan includes caps on tolls for taxi and other for-hire vehicles.
Mayor Kennedy says he hopes the state will grant some businesses similar exemptions.
Jackson also hopes that the state will give small businesses a break.
"I'm very aware of small businesses and their needs, and right now, we don't need additional tax," Jackson says.
The final federal approval allows the MTA to start setting up the tolling infrastructure, which could take around a year.
More public hearings are planned to help figure out dollar amounts and who gets exemptions