NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority kicked off its first round of public meetings on congestion pricing on Thursday and got an earful from outer borough residents about the plan to raise billions for mass transit by charging a fee to enter Manhattan's Central Business District.
And for the first time, the agency offered a hint on just how much drivers will pay, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.
There were the lovers and the haters, the people who wanted exemptions for discounts, and those who are adamantly against giving certain people a free ride. But the big news coming out of this first public hearing was the first inkling of just how expensive it will be to drive your car into Manhattan.
The cars getting off the West Side Highway at 56th Street got a free ride Thursday, but when congestion pricing goes into effect -- an estimated 16 months from now -- it's going to cost a big hunk of dough.
In a big reveal, Allison de Cerreno, the deputy chief operating officer of the MTA, told participants in the agency's first public meeting on congestion pricing that the fee for entering the Central Business District below 60th Street could range from $9 to $23 for E-ZPass holders and $14 to $35 without E-ZPass.
The final ruling on the fee structure will be made by an as-yet-to-be-named mobility panel after an environmental impact assessment involving 28 counties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The panel can decide to have fluctuating rates depending on the time of day, and offer discounts, credits and exemptions.
De Cerreno, who could be heard but not seen at the virtual event, warned, "The more credits, discounts and/or exemptions that are given, the higher the toll must be in order to meet the project's purpose."
That purpose is to raise $1 billion a year for mass transit -- 80% for subway improvements, 20% for commuter rails.
But the warning didn't silence the demands for exemptions. Staten Islanders who already pay to take the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge want special treatment.
"Some sort of transfer with a time limit of about two hours if you cross one of the outer borough bridges, particularly the Verrazzano Bridge, that it doesn't cost you going into the zone," Assemblyman Michael Cusick said.
Motorcycle riders also want a break, as do people seeking medical treatment in Manhattan and the disabled.
"There should be a motorcycle exemption, or at least a motorcycle reduction in toll rates," Hassan Qazi said.
"There are a multitude of outer borough residents who are physically unable to ride mass transit,' Phil Konigsberg said.
Many, many people implored the MTA to deny exemptions to elected officials, including the governor, mayor and members of the City Council, and to make all city employees pay, even police and court officers.
"This is an equity issue. Do not allow a privileged municipal class to make the rules for others, while giving themselves a work-around," Margaret Flanagan said.
Thursday's hearing was the first of 13. There is another one Thursday night for people in the Central Business District. Others will be held for people on Long Island and in New Jersey and Connecticut.
There will also be hearings on environmental justice.
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