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New York City small business owners announce yet another lawsuit against congestion pricing

NYC small business owners file suit against congestion pricing
NYC small business owners file suit against congestion pricing 01:59

NEW YORK -- New York City's congestion pricing plan is facing another legal challenge, this time from small business owners.

They held a rally Tuesday morning outside City Hall to announce their new lawsuit, which demands an environmental impact study be conducted before the plan takes effect.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority only completed an environmental assessment, which takes less time to complete and less thoroughly examines the impacts.

"We have now got a city that is going to be choked to death," New York City Councilmember Vickie Paladino said at Tuesday's rally. "Congestion pricing is going to bankrupt small business and the middle class people. Manhattan island will cease to exist as we know it."

"The MTA was in such a rush to get this congestion theft pricing through, that they didn't even properly do the environmental assessment," Councilmember David Carr added.

Meanwhile, the MTA says all the lawsuits are keeping the agency from making some critical upgrades

During a Capital Program Committee meeting on Monday, officials described a long list of things they plan to do but can't, for now, given the number of ongoing congestion pricing lawsuits.

"With several lawsuits pending, congestion pricing is at risk of delay, despite its benefit to the vast majority of commuters who use transit," MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer said at Monday's meeting.

A delay to congestion pricing might sound like a good thing to some, but the MTA insists these lawsuits are unnecessarily delaying the benefits it would bring transit users.

"We can't award contracts until the funding is assured. As a result, the MTA capital program must be placed mostly on hold," said Torres-Springer.

That means things like station upgrades, new subway cars and signal repairs, and expansions to existing lines are all on hold. The committee highlighted a total of 18 stations between the five boroughs where work was paused.   

They said upgrades at risk of further delay would include:

  • 250 new electric buses
  • $1 billion for the next generation of subway cars
  • New cars for LIRR and Metro-North
  • Public announcement system upgrades at 76 stations

"It has consequences beyond just the passage of time," MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. 

When congestion pricing does go into effect, there will be an exemption for vehicles like Access-A-Ride that primarily transport people with disabilities, who may also register one vehicle as exempt.

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